Friday, 12 August 2022

Eighties giants sparkle in the rain

THE weather gods were not kind to Rewind this year, with a very windy weekend punctuated

THE weather gods were not kind to Rewind this year, with a very windy weekend punctuated by some heavy rain showers.

However, this did not in any way deter the thousands of Eighties pop fans who visited the riverside site — and certainly not the 23 acts who performed for them.

The festival proper opened with regular Rewind star Tony Hadley — but this time he performed a 45-minute set with the Southbank Sinfonia behind him, as well as the Tony Hadley Band.

Fittingly for an artist who cites David Bowie as one of the major influences on Spandau Ballet, he opened with Life on Mars.

More than 30 years on from the band’s Eighties peak, Hadley’s voice has held its strength and power — and ably covered Bowie’s anthem, as well as an Elvis Presley number and Spandau Ballet’s biggest hits.

The synthpop era of the early Eighties was well represented by artists such as Hazell Dean, Toyah and Jimmy Somerville, while the big voices came in the form of Rick Astley and Leo Sayer.

A true slice of nostalgia, for me, came in the form of Lloyd Cole and the Leopards (formerly the Commotions).

Cole’s lyrical voice at once transported me back to my teenage bedroom with my Sony Walkman earphones firmly clamped to my nodding head.

It was wonderful to hear him perform hits including Jennifer She Said, Brand New Friend and Perfect Skin.

Headliner Andy Bell of Erasure had the audience firmly in the palm of his hand from the moment he strolled out on stage resplendent in sparkly shorts and a Marilyn Monroe print T-shirt.

He seemed a man half his 52 years as he worked his way through his many synthpop, dance and electronic hits, including Oh L’amour, Sometimes and Blue Savannah.

He also treated the crowd to some of his trademark energetic dancing — the moves belying a man who underwent a double hip replacement more than 10 years ago.

Anyone dipping in and out of the eclectic musical offerings could sit back and watch a perfectly bizarre array of punters enjoy themselves, with or without the necessary rain ponchos.

Rewinders were mostly in fancy dress and took the Eighties theme beyond the musical era to TV characters (Ninja Turtles, Scooby Doo, Fred Flintstone, CHiPs), the political situation (the miners’ strike) and even superheroes. Policemen and Madonna lookalikes were well represented, as were the Village People and Top Gun.

One man dressed as Bjorn Borg, complete with vintage tennis racket, while another donned a Kermit the Frog morph suit.

People were arriving at the festival site at Temple Island Meadows in vintage camper vans, on foot or by river on one of Hobbs of Henley’s river taxis.

And everyone was making the most of the international cuisine on offer — as well as the funfair, the inflatable church (somewhat deflated in the damp on the Saturday), the silent disco and the more acoustic offerings on the Riverside Stage.

The VIP area close to the stage — a mere £125 per person extra for the weekend — was packed with revellers who were entertained by the New York Brass Band between acts.

The luxurious VIP marquee and bar was the perfect place to hide out during the worst of the weather but on the whole, in true British style, everyone made the absolute best of the live music. “Fun” was the word.

Review: Cindy Burrowes and Jamie Presland

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