Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Rewind producer: We were never going to give you up

Rewind producer: We were never going to give you up

REWIND organisers are promising a party like no other when the Eighties pop festival returns to Temple Island Meadows this August.

After the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s event, when Wet Wet Wet would have made their debut appearance as the Sunday night headliners, it was decided to roll the entire festival over to this year.

Now, following last week’s unveiling of the Government’s roadmap for the lifting of lockdown, Rewind is bouncing back as planned.

Executive producer Steve Porter said: “We’d always hoped we’d be able to get the festival under way this year. But certainly when the Prime Minister comes out with a very clear step by step journey out it gave us and everybody else the confidence to move forward with a festival towards the back end of August. We’re obviously now very confident we can get it over the line, so we’re really excited. It’s great.”

With Jimmy Somerville’s Big Band-tastic Boogie again confirmed as the Saturday night headliners, this year’s Rewind is shaping up to be everything that was promised for 2020 — and more.

Running from Friday to Sunday, August 20 to 22, the festival will open on the Saturday with a show on the main stage celebrating 50 years since the formation of rock legends Queen.

Queen Symphonic will feature a full symphony orchestra, a rock band and four solo artists from the musical We Will Rock You performing a selection of the band’s greatest hits.

Eighties superstars lined up for the main stage on Saturday include Billy Ocean, Marc Almond, Nik Kershaw, Trevor Horn, Hue and Cry, Grandmaster Flash, Cutting Crew, Captain Sensible and John Parr.

They will be followed on the Sunday by Bananarama, Soul II Soul, Go West, Roland Gift, Peter Hook, Limahl, The Christians, Pete Wylie, Aswad and Katrina from Katrina and the Waves.

Mr Porter said: “We were really lucky that the minute we had to announce the postponement of the 2020 festival we went back to all our artists and said ‘Look, we don’t know what’s going to happen yet, but we would like to remain committed to you in that your booking for this year will simply roll over to 2021 in the hope that we can make it happen.

“Thankfully, we’ve built up really good relationships with all the artists over the years that the festival has been running and they all came with us.

“It’s fantastic that they’ve done that and that we’re able to present the line-up that we planned for last year. It’s really good news.”

Which isn’t to say absolutely everything about this year’s Rewind will be exactly the same.

“One of the exciting things that we’ve now got planned for this year is the new Pink Flamingo Club, which has got some great Eighties DJs including Pat Sharp, Gary Davies and Mark Goodier,” said Mr Porter.

“They’re going to be coming along to do some entertainment after the main stage has calmed down a bit, which is a great addition for us.”

With up to 20,000 music fans expected on site each day, Rewind will benefit from the festival having already been staged in Scotland at the end of July and in the north of England earlier in August.

“We basically start at the top of the country and work our way down,” said Mr Porter. “Henley was the first Rewind festival we did and it’s probably fair to describe it as the flagship of the three.

“There’s always a special place in our hearts for Henley because this is where it all began.”

From where Mr Porter is standing, this year is all about getting the show back on the road.

He said: “The whole entertainment business has been absolutely walloped, obviously, with the virus. But you can just see with all of the festivals that are out there announcing that there is a huge hunger, not surprisingly, for festivals, for entertainment, for theatre, for the whole industry.

“For us it’s just so exciting to be back. And we know, looking at reactions online and ticket sales, that there’s a real hunger to get back out and support it, which we’re thrilled about.

“Just to be standing there in August, hopefully on a hot sunny day by the river, and seeing all the people coming back in and getting a chance to re-enjoy the festival will be such a thrill.

“The thing is that the audience demographic, being honest, is my era. And so you see families coming along with what were 10-, 11-, 12-year-olds, all coming and loving the festival and enjoying it. And they’ve all been sort of dragged along.

“But, you know, they’ve grown up now and you’ve got 17-, 18-, 19-year-olds coming out who just love it because it’s really relaxed, it’s so safe, and they will have a great time.

“They can watch their parents making fools of themselves and trying to recover on Sunday when they’re going home.

“So it’s a great journey, really, that we’ve had with this festival.”

• Tickets for Rewind are on sale now. For more information and to book, visit www.rewindfestival.com

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