Photo Copyright © Jo Forrest & Review by Stuart Haughton
There are stacks of great ‘80s festivals across the UK but none are quite as special as Rewind which takes place across three sites in Scotland, Cheshire and Henley over three seperate August weekends. Across three days, organisers pull together a line-up that features some of the cream of the ‘80s pop scene as thousands of fans descended on Capesthorne Hall to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this wonderful celebration of all things ‘80s.
TotalNtertainment arrives on the Saturday morning to be greeted by a truly glorious sight. The sun is beating down on those fans queuing up for the main arena and, barely ten minutes after we’ve parked up and grabbed our passes, we’ve already spotted a group dressed as Hi-De-Hi Yellowcoats, a few ladies dressed up as Wonder Woman and a couple of Baywatch lifeguards and this is only the start. Over the course of the weekend we saw fans dressed up as everything from Ghostbusters toTop Gun pilots to Oscar The Grouch from Sesame Street although our favourite has to be the gang who’d arrived as the Flintstones complete with prehistoric car. They have well and truly set the bar high for next year’s outfits.
Quite honestly we could talk about the crowd all day long but there is also the list of bands to talk about and Saturday couldn’t have been headlined by a more legendary act than The Jacksons who closed off the day with an absolutely flawless set right from opener Can You Feel It.
However, in the lead-up to the magnificent headliners, fans were treated to a mouth-watering musical buffet of some of the finest names of the ‘80s and the kind of soundtrack that had fans young and old dancing right around this beautiful venue. Compered superbly throughout the weekend by Dr & The Medics frontman, Clive, the day kicked off with The Undertones who were followed quickly by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel and Big Country. The stars came thick and fast as synth-pop legend Howard Jones dished out hits like What Is Love to suitably packed venue.
And it didn’t stop there as the legendary Billy Ocean was up next and lit the place up with his infectious smile and perfect voice. Gliding around the stage, the singer took Rewind to another level with hits like When The Going Gets Tough which had people dancing as far as the eye could see. Punk rock icon Captain Sensible followed that joking about being a two hit-wonder while, on a more serious note, Cheryl Baker and Mike Nolan dedicated their set to fellow Bucks Fizz band-mate Jay Aston who was unable to perform after undergoing treatment for tongue cancer. Thankfully her friends did her proud with a set of pop favourites received so loudly that Cheryl commented that “Jay will have heard that from home!”
American favourite Tiffany was up next mixing up her set with new tracks and her hit single I Think We’re Alone Now while Kim Appleby took to the stage and admitted not only was this the first time she’d performed Mel and Kim songs on her own but that she almost cancelled her appearance after being stung on the nose forcing her face to swell up.
By now the ‘80s hits are coming thick and fast as, with the beers flowing and the sun beating down, Leo Sayer hits the stage in the kind of outfit that only Leo Sayer could get away with wearing. Hits like You Make Me Feel Like Dancing have the crowd up on their feet as, again, all corners of the arena seemed to be filled with people up and dancing. Synth-pop star Marc Almond is the final act of the evening before the headliners plunging into his Soft Cell back catalogue to pump out hits like Tainted Love.
The crowd have been noisy all day but, as Tito, Marlon, Jackie and Marlon, or as they’re collectively known, The Jacksons, strut out onto the stage, the volume level noticeably shifts up a decibel or two. Slick dance routines, plenty of crowd interaction and a set list that included hits like Blame It On The Boogie, the four brothers put on the kind of performance that you would expect from musical royalty and are the perfect way to sign off our first day at Rewind 2018.
Photo Copyright © Jo Forrest & Review by Stuart Haughton
So, after an amazing day of ‘80s fun headlined by The Jacksons, we returned to Capesthorne Hall for our second day at Rewind North and, with a couple of hours to kill before the first bands of the day took to the stage, we decided to head out to take in some of the sights.
It’s not long before we encounter more fans in their 80’s inspired dress with today’s delights including Postman Pat, a bunch of female Ghostbusters, Where’s Wally and even more Hi-De-Hi Yellowcoats. However, the highlight of our trip out into the arena saw us wander across a mock wedding where a blushing Bride and her slightly the worse for wear Groom became “man and wife” before the tent broke out for a mass party to celebrate the happy event.
Back at the stage though and Scottish rockers Hue & Cry are doing their best to wake up this sleepy, hungover, frazzled crowd before Soul II Soul make sure everyone is up and on their feet with their hit anthem Back To Life. It might have been a slower start to proceedings today but, Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats certainly make sure the early afternoon heat is punctuated with a barrage of punk rock riffs including their hit single, the anthemic “I Don’t Like Mondays”. Put it this way, by the time Geldof and the Rats had finished strutting about the stage, they’d made sure Rewind North had been given a wake-up call of the loudest kind.
Despite being tucked away in the corner of the festival site, the Rewind North Comedy Tent proved hugely popular with fans who packed the tent out for three top acts. First up was Barbara Nice, of Phoenix Nights fame, who entertained fans with her thoughts on Primark and Supermarkets while Mick Ferry continued with the laughs with a great set packed with his opinions on Tapas, people who park in family parking spots and non-smokers who vape. Both acts provided superb entertainment in the lead up to headliner, the master of the pun and one-liners and a familiar face on Mock The Week, Milton Jones. With Jones living up to his reputation, the tent proved to be a huge success and hopefully this is something organisers can expand on next year.
Back in the main arena where thousands of fans were enjoying another day of glorious weather, Musical Youth brought a bit of Birmingham reggae to the event with hit single Pass The Dutchie being the perfect accompaniment for a fairly relaxed atmosphere. In fact, even Wendy James, former vocalist of Transvision Vamp joked about not being able to follow Pass The Dutchie although the crowd made enough noise during her short set to disprove her theory.
Doctor & The Medics on the other hand were here to party and that is exactly what they did. Despite being an emotional day for their entertaining frontman (with his mother watching proudly sidestage), the band were absolutely rocking from the moment they blasted into Rebel Yell. Ending their set with an emotionally charged Spirit In The Sky, it seemed like there wasn’t a single person within five miles not singing along with the Doctor. Superb.
London disco band Imagination were next up with singer Leee John bringing some seriously impressive disco moves to Rewind North as hit single like Flashback brought a bit of boogie to the day. A huge roar went up as Sheffield synth-pop legends Heaven 17 walked out onto the stage. As we head into the final stages of Rewind, the bands are now starting to wheel out the big-hitters of the ‘80s and Heaven 17 are no exception to the rule with thousands singing along to classics like Temptation.
By now, Rewind North is rocking its way to the finish line and Scottish rocker and former Ultravox frontman Midge Ure helps things along the way with a set of wall-shaking classics like Fade To Grey. Speaking of bona fide 80’s classics, husky voiced Welsh pop-rock siren Bonnie Tyler wheeled them all out for a belting set of pop-rock anthems including a venue-shaking Holding Out For A Hero.
Which just left synth-pop legends OMD to bring Rewind North to a finale and while they might not have had the megastar status of Saturday night headliners The Jacksons, OMD made sure that Rewind North 2018 ended in style with a polished set of synth-rock classics.