IT WAS a surreal start as the tiny village of Wickham welcomed an astronaut jump-suited James Blunt to a bulging canvas topped muddy field.

In the midst of an 18-month world tour, often playing to crowds of 40,000, this was an intimate homecoming for the Hampshire singer despite audience capacity being extended from 5,000 to 7,000 after tickets sold out.

Prior to the show the former Army captain told the Daily Echo he was excited about being back on home ground and playing to a festival crowd that would include the curious alongside the faithful fans.

Judging by the reaction last night he has recruited another army of fans.

With laser lights projected around the black canvas the globetrotter who has sung across all four corners of the earth took straight to piano to perform the atmospheric and romantic Face the Son, from his latest Moon Landing album.

Instantly the crowd was spellbound.

“I’ve been all over the world but what a pleasure it is to come and sing for you guys at Wickham and your fantastic smiling faces...I’m really glad you put a tent up!”, he joked as the rain poured.

His vocals were at his best in the heartfelt ballads as he strummed his way through Blue on Blue or performed a yearning I Really Want You and Carry You Home, as if his heart would break.

But to those who mistakenly think of him as only writing, as he joked, “another miserable song,” he also showcased his many uplifting tracks such as the ukulele-led Postcard and the anthem-like Bonfire Heart.

The 2005 breakthrough hit You’re Beautiful had the whole crowd, young and old, singing many of the words for him.

Despite the relentless touring he was full of energy and fun that was totally infectious.

A great night was had by all.

James Blunt said after the show: "It was fantastic to be back in Hampshire, close to where I was born. It felt like coming home and it was a fantastic atmosphere. It was a shame about the weather but it did not dampen anyone's spirits. The crowd were amazing.

"After playing some huge arenas on the Moon Landing tour, it was really nice to play a smaller, more intimate concert and to get close to the fans. I loved it."