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Organisers expect capacity crowds for return of Rochester Castle Concerts


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The Libertines are looking forward to it - and so are thousands set to watch them let loose in the shadow of Rochester Castle next week.

This week the band, who will headline the first night of the long-awaited Castle Concerts on Thursday September 16, tweeted a picture of Rochester Castle with a short-but-sweet caption that read simply "Soon... x".

And that one word is music to the ears of event organiser Joe Pidgeon of promoters AGMP, who explained the road to this point had been far from simple.

First cancelled back in 2020 due to the pandemic the three-fay festival was rescheduled for July this year - until June brought news the government had delayed its so-called "freedom day" and it was announced the concerts would be put back to September.

Then followed a worried wait to see how tickets would sell, but with just a few hundred left across all three days, Joe said they were expecting capacity crowds of 4,500 people on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"The main thing is we're delighted to be staging them," he said. "It's been a feat of endurance to be putting them on at all. Moving it back a year was okay, because everyone knew what was happening, but the last change hurt more than anything else. Until just recently ticket sales were slow because people were nervous."

Joe said he was most looking forward to seeing the crowd enjoying a great show - and then being able to relax and enjoy it himself.

Medway musicians will be given the chance to perform alongside UB40, The Libertines and Soul II Soul. Picture: Rochester Castle Concerts
Medway musicians will be given the chance to perform alongside UB40, The Libertines and Soul II Soul. Picture: Rochester Castle Concerts

"With lots of events being cancelled it's a major achievement just to stage it," he added. "I always enjoy the music, that's why I do what I do, and we think we've got a fantastic line up.

"I'm an old soul music fan, so I'm looking forward Soul II Soul. They're amazing live.

"When I see everyone enjoying themselves, that's when I think I'll be able to take a step back and enjoy it.

"That's what I'm looking forward to the most. I think everyone that enjoys music has felt bereft at not having live music, and with a lot of musicians sadly passing away recently it's important to take every opportunity to enjoy it."

Supporting the Libertines on Thursday will be Medway band The Ovines, followed by Chappaqua Wrestling, Black Honey and Sports Team.

The crowd enjoying UB40 at Rochester Castle back in 2018. Picture: Steve Crispe
The crowd enjoying UB40 at Rochester Castle back in 2018. Picture: Steve Crispe

Friday will see bring Soul II Soul to the headline spot, supported by The Brand New Heavies, Janet Kay and Carroll Thompson, Omar, Mad Yella, and Snowboy & The Latin Section.

Saturday's show is headlined by UB40, with support from Selecter, Stone Foundation, Rhoda Dakar, The Style Councillors and the Petty Thieves.

With only a few hundred tickets left, fans are encouraged to book in advance, as with additional Covid-control systems, entry to the event will be slightly slower than in pre-Covid times.

Anyone attending is asked to bring either an NHS Covid Passport demonstrating that you have been double-vaccinated at least 14 days ago; proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test result within 36 hours of the event; or proof of natural immunity by way of a positive PCR test at least 180 days old ago.

Thursday's show will start at 4pm, while Friday will start at 1pm and Saturday at noon. Last entry will be at 7.30pm on Thursday and Friday and 7pm on Saturday.

All the current information is available here.

Read more: all the latest news from Medway.

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