REWIND founder David Heartfield has revealed how a chance encounter with T’Pau singer and Henley
REWIND founder David Heartfield has revealed how a chance encounter with T’Pau singer and Henley resident Carol Decker helped inspire the Eighties music festival.
Now in its eighth year, the event returns to Temple Island Meadows later this summer — running over the weekend of August 20 and 21, with camping from Friday, August 19.
Some 20,000 music lovers will be singing along to hits from the likes of Adam Ant, Erasure’s Andy Bell, Marc Almond and Rick Astley.
Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley will be performing with a full orchestra, while other big names on the bill include Earth Wind and Fire, Lloyd Cole, Jimmy Somerville, Toyah, Roland Gift, Heather Small and super-producer Trevor Horn.
Quite a line-up. But as Mr Heartfield readily admits, Rewind&rsquos runaway success has wildly exceeded his initial expectations.
Having lived in the Henley area for 15 years, he says of the festival&rsquos origins: “It&rsquos quite a local story, really. The way this came about is that I promoted most of the open-air stately home picnic shows in the country and we had a venue called Blickling Hall in Norfolk.
“It was the 10th anniversary of concerts there and we were looking for something a little bit different to put in there as a sort of celebration.
“And in the usual problem with these things, everybody that we were approaching wasn&rsquot touring that year, or wasn&rsquot working, or the time was wrong, or whatever. So we were really struggling to find anything.
“And I bumped into Carol Decker, who lives in Henley and is a friend of ours, and Carol was going ‘Why don&rsquot you put an Eighties show together and stick it in there?’
“I wasn&rsquot entirely convinced it would work, but in the end, to be honest — I&rsquod like to say it was a flash of brilliance but it wasn&rsquot — we really couldn&rsquot find anything else, so we put an Eighties show together with 10 acts to celebrate the 10 years — and it sold out in a matter of weeks.
“So we went ‘Ah, this seems to work.&rsquo It was a fantastic show and it went down really well and the following year we repeated the show — we did 11 acts for the 11th anniversary as a tongue-in-cheek thing — then we took it from there.
“We took it to a number of other stately homes as a one-off evening sort of show and then developed it into a full-blown festival.
“The site at Temple Island Meadows is, dare I say it — I don&rsquot want to wind the Remenham residents up too much — but the short cut when Remenham Hill is backed up [with traffic].
“So I’d often see the site down there and thought it would make a fantastic festival site — so when the two things came together it seemed the ideal place to do it.”
That was back in 2009, but Mr Heartfield has been in the music events business for far longer, having cut his teeth helping to stage Jean Michel Jarre’s landmark Destination Docklands concerts in October 1988.
Now the chief executive of Impresario Festivals — the company he founded in 2012 — his other festival brands include Boardmasters and SW4.
The Rewind that started life in Henley is now known as Rewind South, having been joined in recent years by sister festivals Rewind Scotland and Rewind North.
Looking back on the success of Rewind, Mr Heartfield is clear about which aspect of it he most enjoys.
“I think it&rsquos always really interesting for us to persuade artists to come back and work again. There are lots of artists who have come back from not working for a long time.
“People like Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, who hadn&rsquot really performed live for 20-odd years. Or a couple of years ago Tom Bailey from the Thompson Twins who, you know, when he performed at Henley it was the first time he&rsquod done their stuff in 27 years.
“When you look at these things, it’s amazing really. He [Tom] went off to New Zealand and kind of left it all behind. I think sometimes it proves a lot of pressure for them the first time around when they&rsquore quite young, and they walk away from it. A lot of them are enjoying it much more the second time round than they ever did the first time.”
As for the secret of Rewind’s continuing appeal, Mr Heartfield is equally emphatic.
“We condense everybody down to about 30 minutes, so what you get is the hits, the hits and the hits. There&rsquos nothing else, really, because 30 minutes is really six or seven songs.”
What about the headliners — how much time do they normally get?
“It varies, it does entirely vary, but it&rsquos between 45 minutes and an hour. Even with them, they&rsquore still condensing. They all have to condense their set. Hence the reason there are certain bands that don’t want to do Rewind because they want to go out there for two hours and spend an hour and a quarter of it doing their new album — before you get to the hits. And, you know, we&rsquore very much driven by ‘this is not the place to do that.’ ”
Is there anyone on Mr Heartfield&rsquos Rewind wish list, so to speak?
“I think Nile Rodgers with Chic — that Chic show is a fantastic show. I saw it at Glastonbury and it was stunning, you know? I&rsquod love Nile to come over and do it. Eventually I&rsquom sure he will, but it&rsquos just waiting for the right year.”
For full details of this year’s Rewind South line-up and to book tickets, visit www.rewindfestival.com