The 80’s are rapidly becoming the new 60’s in terms of misty eyed nostalgia. The teenagers of the 80’s are now in the 40 to 50 ish bracket with the disposable income (allegedly!) to indulge themselves and relive their teen years. This explains the current rise in 80’s themed festivals and tours which are doing a roaring trade around the country. Many artists and bands have either reformed or resurfaced from the club circuit to grace larger stages in packaged bills playing to packed houses.
This tour in particular caught my eye as it featured both Big Country and Midge Ure which added a bit of rock interest to the proceedings (now, an 80’s rock tour would be good!). Add in the poptastic Nick Hayward and Curiosity Killed The Cat and you had the makings of a highly entertaining night.
The show was well staged with a house band made up of top session musicians providing the backing for all except Big Country, this meant that the gig flowed well with little lull in the proceedings.
First up was Curiosity Killed The Cat or Ben Volperiere-Perriot to be more precise. I was never the biggest fan of the band but they did have a few memorable tunes which had the crowd on their feet. Ben hasn’t got the strongest of voices and he did indulge in a bit of ‘dad dancing’ from time to time but songs like ‘Down To Earth’ and ‘Name and Number’ got the evening off to a good start.
Next up was a very fit looking Nick Hayward who was greeted with a few screams from his die-hard admirers. Nick’s songs and those of Haircut One Hundred encapsulate what 80’s pop was all about, fun, upbeat songs that make you want to dance and sing along which is exactly how the set went.
‘Take That Situation’ and ‘Blue Hat For A Blue Day’ were the highlights of Nick’s solo career but it was the Haircut One Hundred songs that really got the crowd going. The trio of ‘Love Plus One’, ‘Favourite Shirt (Boy Meets Girl)’ and ‘Fantastic Day’ went down a storm with Nick riffing away on the guitar at breakneck speed. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed his set and I can feel my rock credibility going down the pan here!
After a quick interval things got more serious with the arrival of Midge Ure and thankfully he introduced some rock into the evening (phew!). Midge has always been a class act and with a string of hits at his disposal his success was ensured before the opening chords of ‘Hymn’.
Playing a good mix of his solo hits and Ultravox classics he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. One of the highlights was Midge’s version of the Visage hit ‘Fade To Grey’ which he wrote and turned into a huge singalong. With Midge belting out the power chords along to the pumping bassline he had the Playhouse bouncing.
Other highlights were Midge’s version of ‘Starman’ played in tribute to the late David Bowie and the moody and pulsating ‘Vienna’. Rounding things off with ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, complete with some tasty guitar work, Midge left the stage to huge cheers, nostalgia never sounded so good.
That just left Big Country to round off the night and finally restore my rock credentials. Following Midge Ure’s set was going to be hard but the band took it in their stride. Singer Simon Hough has now settled in well and as the band started with ‘Harvest Home’ it was pleasing to see that they have become a tight unit.
‘Look Away’ was greeted like an old friend with Bruce and Jamie Watson recreating the dual guitar sound perfectly. Bruce came to the fore on ‘Ships’ with some outstanding playing before the band returned to the hits with ‘King Of Emotion’.
‘Chance’ gave the crowd another opportunity to sing along and they did so with gusto. It was the band’s biggest hits though which provided the nights high point with ‘In A Big Country’, ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Fields Of Fire’ bring the show to a rocking end.
The 80’s provided us with some fantastic music (and a lot of cheese!) and with the current resurgence it shows that mostly they have stood the test of time. This was a highly entertaining night that even my 15 year old son who came along with me enjoyed.
He did point out however that he was the only one in the hall that had been born this millennium, maybe, but we had the best tunes…
Review and photos by David Wilson
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MILES NIELSEN AND THE RUSTED HEARTS Hands Up (indie)
THE FARGO RAILROAD COMPANY Something In The Water (indie)
THE DARK ELEMENT If I Had A Heart (Frontiers)
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DIRTY SHIRLEY Here Comes The King (Frontiers)
CARRY THE CROWN Runaway (indie)
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09:00-12:00 WORK OF ART Exhibits (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SIGN X Like A Fire (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 JACK BROADBENT Moonshine Blue (Creature Records)
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MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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