Monday, 20 September 2021

Stars have crowds singing in the rain

RAIN and high winds failed to put off Eighties music fans as thousands flocked to the

RAIN and high winds failed to put off Eighties music fans as thousands flocked to the eighth annual Rewind Festival.

Revellers donned ponchos and raincoats over their fluorescent outfits and fancy dress for the festival last weekend, which saw acts including Rick Astley, Andy Bell and Adam Ant.

A total of 40,000 people visited the site on Temple Islands Meadows over the two days, with many camping overnight.

Despite patches of sun and warm weather on Sunday afternoon, the festival was hit by rain showers for much of the weekend, with many guests taking refuge under umbrellas or tarpaulins while listening to the acts.

Strong winds on Saturday also caused havoc, with plastic sheeting on the main stage blown away, resulting in one of the big broadcasting screens being lowered.

But despite the weather, the stage area was packed with people watching their favourite acts, many dancing and singing along during the weekend.

They included Henley town councillors David Nimmo Smith and Will Hamilton, along with Cllr Nimmo Smith’s brother Norman, who had travelled to the festival on the river in Cllr Hamilton’s slipper Topsilk.

The party atmosphere saw many revellers dressed in Eighties outfits including leg warmers and bright colours, while others attended in fancy dress as characters including Maverick from the film Top Gun, B. A. Baracus from The A-Team and even Liverpool footballer Graeme Souness.

The festival was headlined on Saturday by Bell, of synthpop duo Erasure, who walked out on stage to cheers before singing hits including Oh L’amour and Electric Blue. Bell, wearing sparkly shorts and a T-shirt with an image of Marilyn Monroe on it, was also joined by two women dancers he called his “fembots”.

Bell, who turned 52 this year, delighted the crowds with some of his famous energetic dance moves and at the end of his set introduced each member of his accompanying band to the audience.

Earlier in the day Rick Astley had performed songs including Giving Up on Love and a cover of Rihanna’s We Found Love, before ending his set with his best-known hit, Never Gonna Give You Up.

He drew screams from his many female admirers in the crowd, while some even held up signs, one which said “I love you, hold me in your arms”, the title of one of his hits.

Astley also told the audience he was “going to be a bit naughty” by playing a new song, Angels on My Side, before adding: “I’ve got a Number One album, I’ll do what I like!” This year’s festival saw tributes to David Bowie and Prince after the pop icons passed away this year.

Rewind veteran Tony Hadley, of Spandau Ballet, performed with the Southbank Sinfonia orchestra, and opened with a rendition of Bowie’s Life on Mars, while Blitz DJ Rusty Egan put together a tribute to the two artists on Saturday.

Other acts on the day included Leo Sayer, Jimmy Somerville and Toyah.

Sunday saw performances by Marc Almond, Heather Small and Living in a Box featuring Kenny Thomas.

Thomas said: “It was a great audience and a great vibe and it was also great meeting up with artists from the past who we haven’t seen in a while.”

Living in a Box drummer Anthony “Tich” Critchlow added: “This festival is grander and more vibrant and the reception was solid and cheerful, even under conditions like this. It turned quite miserable.”

Composite group British Electric Foundation, which featured performers including Jaki Graham, Mari Wilson, The Farm’s Peter Hooton and Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory, also played on the day.

The group is the brainchild of Gregory’s bandmate Martyn Ware and this year’s lineup included the full Heaven 17 band alongside five other Eighties performers.

Hooton said: “I think it was more romantic in the rain! Everyone was so warm and receptive. It was as it should be and it was a real pleasure and joy to perform.”

Graham added: “This is my first Rewind and I thought it was awesome. Spirits were high and all the people were so lovely, you could just feel it.

“I was listening to everyone performing thinking ‘that’s a tune!’ I went through the Eighties and it was a very good time but it went like that and you didn’t have time to absorb it. Suddenly you think ‘I was part of that’. You look back at it and think it was a good time.”

Wilson said: “I’ve done all three Rewinds now and it’s always so friendly. It’s very non-competitive here, we are all so different and that’s what we are celebrating.

“The crowd is just up for it and you could go out there and sing ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ and they would love it!”

The festival was closed by Adam Ant, who took to the stage wearing his iconic highwayman outfit. He sang some of his best-known hits including Antmusic and Kings of the Wild Frontier.

Other smaller bands played in different venues around the site, while there were also fairground rides, stalls selling arts and crafts and food and drink available all weekend.

Rewind founder David Heartfield said: “It was all great and everything went well, although the weather could have been kinder!

“I don’t actually get to watch a lot of it as I have thousands of people to organise. We had some wind on Saturday which meant a bit of the plastic sheeting came loose and we had to take the screen down behind it.”

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