Henley on Thames was once again the venue for this years' Rewind Festival. A veritable retro “fashion” fest of all things 80's. From the million and one day-glow leg warmers, nostalgia t shirts and Limahl style wigs, this was a flash back to the 80's in all it's cheesy fashion glory and a chance for the revellers to relive their youth.
Coming down to the site late on Friday night, it was definitely a sight to behold, with the lights from the funfair lighting up the horizon and the beams from the silent disco glistening across the sky. Once inside the arena, there were “posh” food vans a plenty, the obligatory Costa coffee stall and of course the all important bar, which served a one branded lager or cider, thankfully, the cider had two different flavours to choose from and pitchers of various concoctions mainly containing Pimms.
Saturday saw us in the V.I.P area which was decked out with double deck chairs, picnic tables and tents decorated like a scene from Arabian Nights, which on a few occasions came in handy for sudden bursts of rain. Once again Pimms was on hand and a fantastic BBQ stall ran by world champion, Jeremy Ravenshaw-Fowler. Might have been nice if the bar had thought to stock soft drinks for those of us who had to work or wanted to last till after 7pm judging by the way the pitchers were being consumed, and a few people where having to mingle with the commoners to get them.
By 2pm, the first act, Modern Romance, took to the stage, playing their hits, “Everybody Salsa” and “Best Years of Our Lives” and a few cover versions. They were followed by Kajagoogoo, which saw a fairly casual dressed Limahl compared to the rest of the group, and yes the 80's do has now gone. They treated the crowd to “To Shy” and “Never Ending Story”. Next up came Level 42, who for some bizarre reason, in my opinion anyway had been placed far too early in the line up. With the most famous thumb ready taped and moving what seemed faster than the speed of light, Mark King and co gave us a much needed rock element to Saturday. With a massive back catalogue, we were treated to some of their finest moments, including “Lessons In Love” and “Running In the Family”.
The rest of the afternoon passed by with Curiosity Killed The Cat, who now only has Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot remaining and T'Pau's Carol Decker, who had to introduce herself after the presenter had disappeared. I have to admit, the organisation at times was a bit of a let down as this wasn't the first or last time something like that happened.
Then came the big guns for Saturday night, Jimmy Somerville, who was a massive hit with the crowd and I don't think they wanted him to leave the stage. He gave a fabulous pitch perfect performance, with his famous wiggle dance to each song. Rick Astley followed and asked the crowd,”how can I compete after Jimmy Somerville”, but believe you and me he managed it. With his cheeky Northern personality and his fantastic interaction with the crowd, he had to be one of the most loved acts on over the weekend, especially with the mums out there. He took you from bop along pop tunes like “Together Forever” and “She Wants To Dance With Me” with a few romantic tunes including ”When I Fall In Love”, he finished his set with, “three and a half minutes and i'm off, so I want to see singing and a bit of jiggling”, then broke into the chourus of “Never Gonna Give You Up”, sending the crowd wild, even before the music kicked in.
The final act for the Saturday was Boy George, wearing one of his unique Trilby hats. He brought a mellow end to the first night. The set was a soulful and spiritual affair, with “Karma Chamelian” and “Poisened Ivy” and “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” added for the 80's twist. He finished the set with, “Blue Moon” which saw many couples getting loved up and dancing away under the near full moon.
The night was ended with a crescendo of fireworks, for which you could here “Oooooo's” and “Ahhhhh's” from the crowd as they made there way back to the arena for more fun at the fair and singing along to the silent disco.
Sunday arrived to glorious sunshine and The Beat opening at the main stage, with an energetic Ska set, followed by 10CC, who played many of their soft rock 80's hits including, “I'm Not In Love” during their 40 minute set.
Next up was the bizarre choice of Bjorn Again, who I'm only mentioning because of the diva attitude in their request of no photographers in the pit but they could wade through the crowd to get photo's that way, which immediately saw the press down tools, me included. Why a mainly 70's “TRIBUTE” act are at an 80's festival is beyond me anyway.
Pretty soon 80's normality was back again with Johnny Hates Jazz taking centre stage, with “Shattered Dreams” and “Turn Back The Clock”, but the diva atmosphere once again returned when lead singer, Clark Datchler came close to throwing a hissy fit when left waiting for two minutes maximum afterwards while a reporter arrived to interview them.
Thankfully, that was definitely the last of the bad vibes, as Hazel O'Connor took to the stage, and I still have no idea who she is, but the crowd loved her and seemed to be a firm 80's favourite. Then came the most loved one hit wonder icon of all times, the irresistible, Mr Chesney Hawkes, who may have only sang “Summer Of 69” and “I Am The One And Only” but was one of the most highly anticipated acts for the Sunday line up and did not in anyway disappoint on stage or off, which saw him mingling with the crowd before and after his set, signing autographs and chattimng away to his many many fans.
The afternoon took a funky turn after that, with Odyssey singing, “Native New Yorker” and Kid Creole and The Coconuts singing a variety of their hits including,”Dear Addy”. As the grey clouds started to take over the skies, Midge Ure took over the stage, with a fairly sombre set, including, “If I” and “Vienna” which saw the crowd sing along and break into rapturous applause once it had finished. The last to play before the big finale was Mark Almond, who still has the same gentle melodic voice we all love and recognise from his heyday especially during “Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart” and “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye”
The finale arrived to dark and by now rather wet skies, and Tony Hadley came onto stage, belted out, ”Life On Mars” ,the man certainly knows how to hold a note, before introducing, Go West, who rocked the stage with hits, “King Of Wishful Thinking” and “We Close Our Eyes” before covering, Kings of Leon's, “This Sex Is On Fire” before welcoming Tony Hadley back on stage with Martin Fry, where covers of Duran Duran's hit “Rio” and “The Killers, “Somebody Told Me” were performed to by now a very excited and very wet crowd. Then back on stage came Go West to join Tony Hadley to massive cheers from the crowd and promptly launched into, “That's Life”. By now the atmosphere on stage was one of joviality and huge amounts of fun as the pair joked about on stage and acted up for the audience, especially during a fantastic cover of “I Predict A Riot” by The Kaiser Chiefs. I honestly think this “super group” could have played all night going by the fun they were all having even though the rain was now pretty torrential, but the atmosphere on stage spread right across the 20,000 strong audience who would have carried on all night with them.
All in all, if you love you're 80's music, then this is definitely the festival for you. Be warned though, fluorescent pink leg warmers and an 80's wig by next year may be compulsory on entry!!
Words: Alison Goggin