Rewind – The 80’s Festival
16th – 18th August 2013
It’s a stag do, and as such promises a weekend of laughter and mirth. Though some readers may be wondering what I was doing at a festival featuring pop bands from the 1980’s, there was actually quite a lot of music to savour. Plus the banter was to be unmissable. Besides, I’ve never been to Download or Castle Donington or whatever it is and it’s probably too late for me now. Rewind festival is go!
The first day is drive down, queue for two hours to get into the festival (at least we had beers) and then put the tents up. In the evening there’s a chance to explore the festival village, catch some live music and eat. And drink more ale. We drank quite a lot of beer and/or cider and got into the spirit quite nicely. The mood in the festival village was uplifting, everyone excited for the fun ahead.
One of the main acts I actually wanted to see over the weekend was Doctor & the Medics (don’t ask, I loved “Spirit in the Sky” years ago). Unfortunately a lack of information meant that I turned up for the last thirty seconds of that penultimate song, not something I was happy about. They did AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” for an encore which kind of eased the pain. A teensy bit.
Blind drunk and weeping at having missed Doctor & the Medics, it was then time to sit around our tents till ridiculous o’clock and drink even more. I have to say that despite my inebriated state, I contributed many intellectual musings to the conversation, elevating my status as a raconteur and thinker by some degree.
Saturday’s music begins with the Sugarhill Gang, not an obvious choice for an 80’s festival but one I was looking forward to. Hip hop gained international exposure in the 80’s so this was a different, yet very apt act. Their set includes a run through of hip hop classics (some not their own) that gets the party started in good style. It’s a raucous start to the day – if Sugarhill Gang are the openers, then we’re in for a treat.
The Blow Monkeys are next – and they do indeed blow the good vibe set by their predecessors. Insipid eighties pop of the worst kind, their music is forgettable – and should be forgotten. They leave with a petulant comment about Chesney Hawkes. At least he had one good song, Blow Monkeys – you have none.
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel‘s set is peppered with irony – or is it just bad luck? We get the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” despite the looming rain clouds. And a song that Steve promises audiences sing along to all over the world – that no-one’s ever heard. Still, “Mr Soft” and the glorious “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” offer more highlights. Let’s just forget that Harley is a 1970’s act.
For some bizarre reason, Billy Ocean is on in the late afternoon. He could’ve headlined the night. Hit after hit, performed perfectly with a voice that sounds fresh and energetic. Billy knows his craft and leads the audience through sing-a-longs one after the other. It’s amazing how much quality material he has. As one of my festival buddies commented, previously I would’ve worn a Billy Ocean t-shirt with a hint of irony – now I’d wear one with pride. Awesome.
Then it was time to go back to the tent for a few cheap cans of lager, which meant that I missed Then Jericho (“A trainwreck” was how one pal described it). No loss there. Expensive festival booze encouraged us to enjoy more of our beer stash so I also missed Chesney Hawkes, though we could hear THAT song at the tent – and it was great.
Flying Pickets were also unfortunately ignored, unlike Ches I couldn’t hear them at all. On the walk back to the festival arena I heard the Journey bloke singing the one good song in their repertoire.
It should be said that the atmosphere at Rewind was great. The fun of it all was most obviously demonstrated by the fancy dress outfits that were worn by brave festival goers. Some of my favourites were security guards with Hannibal Lecter (Lecter was a puppet); aliens from “V”; He-Man and the Honey Monster.
Back in the thick of it, and it was time for Heaven 17. I’ve seen them before and knew they could do a solid job. Amazing to think that I’ve now seen Heaven 17 more than I’ve seen Metallica. Great 80’s pop that is, essentially, anthemic dance music. “Temptation” is another obvious highlight of the day.
Nik Kershaw was my cue to go get some food. But before I left, I checked out a few of Nik’s songs. He looks like a healthier Charles Bukowski and delivers a set that is actually really good, loaded with more hits than I remembered. Great stuff – made me regret leaving early to get a burrito.
Happily fed and with a new bottle of beer, it’s off to see Kim Wilde. WOW. Again, I’m surprised just how many great songs Kim has. I thought she would be good, but Kim really impresses. What’s more, she’s gorgeous – all twelve of our stag do party falling in love with her. “Kids in America” is a delight in a set of real gems.
Finally we have the B-52s, a band I actually consider myself quite a fan of. At least, I know most of their songs tonight. Starting with “Planet Claire” we are off to the strange sci-fi New Wave world of the B-52s, with a mid set appearance for (my favourite) “Roam”. Awesome vocals from Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson lift this and many other songs, till we reach our destination with “Love Shack” and finally “Rock Lobster”. There’s even some dude head to toe in a foam rubber lobster outfit down the front. Crazy.
That’s it. We hang around and enjoy the festival atmos, watching Camp Cooks (hilarious) and the rodeo bull ride (er…). Then it’s back to the campsite for another night’s chatting utter comedy gold around the tents. A great days entertainment, the only odd thing about the Saturday line up is the running order. Billy Ocean should’ve been top of the bill, with Kim Wilde and the B-52s on before him.
That was to be the end of my Rewind adventure, as due to family commitments I had to return home the next morning (thanks for lift, Adam) and miss all the Sunday fun. Which meant that I missed Go West, the Pointer Sisters, ABC and Belinda Carlisle…
Perhaps not seeing Belinda Carlisle isn’t the disaster it first appeared to be. Can you imagine the consequences of Belinda and myself actually being in the same place at the same time? And the obvious chemistry that would’ve brought us together? No, better to leave it without our meeting. There are families involved, there are children to consider. It would have been a catastrophe in the making.