I am sure every generation will lay claim to having all the best music. The music being played on TV and radio during your formative years is what you absorbed and, by default, sticks with you through life. For me and many other 50 somethings the 80’s was our time, the soundtrack to our teenage years and yes we did have all the best tunes!
The Rewind weekend provides an opportunity to relive those heady days and revel in the sounds of our youth, both good and bad! It is easy to look back with rose tinted glasses and reminisce on the joys of big hair and shoulder pads, but how do things stack up thirty years down the line? The answer is a bit of a mixed bag with some artists still at the top of their game whilst others are perhaps better committed to memory.
Despite forecasts to the contrary Saturday dawned bright and sunny with great weather throughout the day. Opening today’s proceedings were Hipsway, the Glasgow band who had a few minor hits, the best known being ‘The Honeythief’ which peaked at number 17 back in 1986.
Guitarist Pim Jones and vocalist Graeme Skinner have worn the march of years well and over the course of the short set they went down well with the crowd. The biggest cheer was saved for the aforementioned hit which rounded off the set, a good start in the sunshine.
I must admit, I had to Google The Primitives when checking the bill as the name didn’t immediately bring anything to mind. However, I was soon reminded of their Blondie like sound and their big song ‘Crash’ and was interested to see how they have fared in the intervening years.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts as singer Tracy Tracy belted out the opening couple of numbers her voice was as flat as a pancake. However, things did improve a bit as they progressed and by the time they reached ‘Crash’ the bum notes were almost forgotten, almost!
Talking of bum notes, in between sets it fell to Daniel, the DJ for the weekend and allround nice guy, to keep the crowd fired up with some group Karaoke. He had his work cut out at times but kept smiling and cranking out the top tunes. This was his first Rewind experience and he did a sterling job.
Next up we had a band who were one of the stars of my last Rewind in 2017. The Undertones know how to do a festival set, short, sharp and relentless, they never let the pace flag. Opening with ‘Jimmy, Jimmy’ the band were on a mission and it was one that all present were more than happy to get involved in. It’s easy to forget how many hits the band had over the years and hearing songs like ‘Jump Boys’, ‘Here Comes The Summer’ and ‘My Perfect Cousin’ on a sunny Saturday afternoon was heaven.
Mid-set though they had the first big singalong of the weekend with the John Peel approved ‘Teenage Kicks’. The teenagers are now a damn sight older but they still hollered along, word perfect. ‘Get Over You’ finished a cracking set and brought down the curtain on one of the performances of the weekend.
It fell to one of the two tribute acts on the bill, The Dire Straits Experience, to try and follow The Undertones, a thankless task. The band are good musicians and they do play the Dire Straits hits well with frontman Terence Reis doing a passible Mark Knopfler on both guitar and vocals.
Although I say this is a tribute act they do actually have an ex-Straits member in their midst in the shape of saxophonist and back vocalist Chris White to add some credence. All the hits were present including,‘Money For Nothing’, ‘Romeo And Juliet’ and ‘Sultans Of Swing’ all perfectly recreated. A decent performance, but not one that really had the crowd moving.
The stage was then set for the Rewind band who would provide the backing for the next few artists. Made up of top session players they are more than capable of turning their hand to any style and are as tight as the proverbial duck’s rear end.
First up for the band was the challenge to recreate the Blackbox hits. Big on beats and with that huge vocal they got the field up and dancing. The highlight of their short stint was ‘Ride On Time’ with everyone trying to recreate the ‘whoa- ohh’ section and failing miserably.
Next was another artist I had to Google, Joyce Sims. The American singer songwriter only broke into the uk charts a few times with the most memorable being with the track ‘Come In To My Life’. She still has a good voice and had the crowd singing along with her cover of ‘I’m Every Woman’ spliced with ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T’ as well as her big hit.
From American soul we then moved to British folk tinged pop with Eddi Reader. Sporting a sparkly outfit and a large hat, she opened with ‘Patience Of Angels’ which was followed by the Fairground Attraction favourite, ‘Perfect’. I must admit I have never been Eddi’s biggest fan but I was in a minority and by the time we reached ‘Goodbye My Love’ she had the crowd on her side and dancing in the sunshine.
Following Eddi was one of the big names of the 80’s with a long list of hits to his name. I had last seen Paul Young back in his heyday supporting Genesis, I can’t remember much about his performance on that occasion but I know for a fact that his voice was in much better shape back then.
Opening with ‘Love Of The Common People’ it instantly became apparent that all was not well vocally and he continued to struggle throughout the set. All the hits were present, ‘Come Back And Stay’, ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’, ‘Senza Una Donna’, but no matter which song, it was marred by the vocal performance. I actually wished at one point that he would pick up his hat and go!
From one dodgy vocal performance to one that pleasantly surprised me as Lulu took to the stage. She may be a septuagenarian but Lulu can still belt out a tune and the opener ‘Relight My Fire’ certainly ignited the crowd. She covered every inch of the stage and played the crowd like a pro.
Playing songs from all eras of her long career there was something to please everyone from ‘The Boat That I Row’ right up to ‘Where The Poor Boys Dance’ via one of my favourites ‘The Man Who Sold The World’. She also paid tribute to the up and coming stars of today by performing a cover of the Lewis Capaldi song ‘Someone You Loved’.
There was one song though that everyone wanted to hear and as Lulu belted out the opening refrain of ‘Shout’ the whole arena broke into spontaneous dancing as if someone had just electrified the grass which was amusing to watch. This was an excellent festival performance with all the hits and little filler barring the odd luvvy story from her long career which we were happy to indulge.
I only wish Foreigner had followed the same route. The last time I saw the band live I was less than impressed as the night was full of self-indulgence and overblown solos. I was hoping that tonight, with this being a headline slot at a fairly non rock festival, they would come out, play things straight and belt out the hits.
Things started off well with ‘Double Vision’ giving way to a rocking ‘Head Games’ with great double guitar work. ‘Cold As Ice’ followed which had the crowd singing along, so far so good.
However as the set progressed so the solos started to stretch and the mid sections became full blown musical workouts. Mick Jones appeared mid-set as the band went into ‘Feels Like The First Time’ and as with the Glasgow gig this seemed to herald a downward spiral including drum and keyboard solos and a version of ‘Juke Box Hero’ that they may well still be playing.
By this time anyone with a passing interest had headed for the road or tent and even the die-hards were struggling. They played a couple of encores, but no one really cared by that point. For me the guys pitched this set completely wrong for the event and had they played it straight and added a couple of other tracks instead of the protracted solos this review could have been about a Foreigner triumph rather than another disappointment, still, at least the rain stayed away.
Sunday dawned grey and overcast with the threat of rain later in the day. On paper the Sunday line up looked the better of the two days with more rock interest and Toyah Wilcox on hand as compere for the day.
What better way to start the day than in the company of Big Country. If Carlsberg did festival sets then this would be it, hits all the way, no messing about and making the most of their allotted slot, in fact everything that Foreigner hadn’t been the previous night.
Opening with ‘Harvest Home’ the arena rapidly filled up with people lured to the front by the twin guitars of Bruce and Jamie Watson. ‘Look Away’ was up next followed by ‘Chance’ which gave everyone the opportunity to sing along at the tops of their voices. Simon Hough then introduced ‘In A Big Country’ before ‘Wonderland’ and the crowd favourite ‘Fields Of Fire’ rounded off a short but very sweet set. Big Country played a blinder, an excellent start to day two.
Twenty minutes later we were once again welcoming Bruce and Jamie Watson back on stage this time as the dynamic duo in The Skids. Frontman Richard Jobson is a larger than life character who has never been afraid to speak his mind. Following the opening number of ‘The Saints Are Coming’ he challenged the whole crowd out for a fight, 5pm, in the car park, much to everyone’s amusement, I know who my money was on!
Again, The Skids took no prisoners and blasted through track after track without taking a breath other than for Jobson to make his feelings known on a certain Mr Boris Johnson, let’s just say the chant he had the crowd singing is not website friendly!
As well as fan favourites like ‘Charade’ and ‘Working For The Yankee Dollar’ the guys played a couple of covers namely ‘Pretty Vacant’ (possibly another Boris comment?) and The Buzzcocks track ’What Do I Get?’, which Richard dedicated to the memory of Pete Shelley. He also led the crowd in a quick version of ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ for good measure. ‘Masquerade’ and ‘Into The Valley’ brought to a close another great set, it was the first time I had seen The Skids live and it certainly won’t be the last.
And so to our second tribute act of the weekend only this one are arguably bigger than many of the original acts over the weekend with sell out tours galore. However you can’t fail when you are plundering ABBA’s back catalogue and Bjorn Again are about as close to the real thing that you are going to get. They look like them, sound like them and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted.
Entering the stage to ‘Arrival’ the band launched into ‘Waterloo’ with gusto and had the arena in ABBA heaven. You can hardly fail to play the hits in an ABBA set and the guys and girls in the band have the stage moves down to a tee. ‘Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie’, Super Trooper’ and ‘Lay All Your Love’ went down a storm.
The rap section in the middle of ‘Take A Chance On Me’ I could have lived without to be fair and aptly the first spots of rain began to fall during ‘Mama Mia’. ‘Dancing Queen’ brought things to a close and once again had everyone throwing shapes like it was 1976. Bjorn Again are a class act and the perfect way to brighten up a dull day.
We were then back to the Rewind band again for this afternoon’s quickfire slots and kicking things off today was the man who had held The Skids latest album off the top chart spot last year much to Richard Jobson’s disgust, Leo Sayer. The pint size popster bounced on stage and kicked things off with ‘Thunder In My Heart’. Leo hardly stood still during the set clowning around and playing up to the audience.
He headed further back in time with the likes of ‘I Won’t Let The Show Go On’ and ‘When I Need You’ much to the delight of the crowd. Well, most of the crowd, my wife did find a woman sheltering in the toilets during Leo’s performance as she said he made her feel physically sick! You can’t win them all…His slot finished with ‘Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)’ and he left the stage to the crowd chanting his name and a woman peering around the toilet door checking if the coast was clear.
Midge Ure was up next and appeared on stage just as the heavens opened, but he soon made everyone forget the rain as he played a blinding set. Midge is a class act who has lost none of his vocal prowess over the years and can crank out the riffs with the best of them. ‘If I Was’ opened proceedings and the crowd were singing along from the get go.
The pumping rhythm of ‘Fade To Grey’ then got the assembled throng dancing in the rain. A powerful version of ‘Vienna’ followed which seemed all the more atmospheric in the afternoon drizzle. A quick blast of ‘Flower Of Scotland’ got the desired reaction before ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ finished off an all too short set. A great set from a class act, I must catch a full set from Midge soon.
Next up was a burger and fries accompanied by the dulcet tones of Hazel O’Connor. Hazel is not someone who had really grabbed my attention back at her career peak, her set today didn’t do much for me either. She played the two big hits ‘Eighth Day’ and ‘Will You’ which went down well enough but didn’t really excite.
There was more excitement in the crowd though for the arrival of ex Go-Go’s singer Belinda Carlisle. It was hit after hit as Belinda played her way through her short set much to the crowd’s delight. Songs like ‘I Get Weak’, ‘Circles In The Sand’ and ‘Leave A Light On’ reminded everyone of how successful she had been during the mid-eighties.
She finished off with ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ with the Scone choir singing along with all their might. It may have been a damp and grey afternoon but Belinda brought a bit of Californian sunshine to proceedings.
Next up we had another act, like Paul Young, who I had seen back in the day supporting Genesis, Lisa Stansfield. The soulful songstress played a laid back set whilst the rain fell with all her hits present and correct.
‘The Real Thing’ went down well as did ‘Change’ but to be honest the set didn’t do anything for me and the crowd were a bit subdued throughout. ‘All Around The World’ raised the biggest cheer of the set and Lisa did get a cheer at the end of the set but no one was calling for more.
We then had a complete change of pace and style with a set from The Stranglers. I hadn’t seen The Stranglers before but knew all the hits and the band didn’t disappoint. Opening with ‘Toiler On The Sea’ Jean-Jacques Burnel led the guys from the front with his heavy bassline cutting through the Scone night. Baz Warne was spot on vocally on ‘Nice And Sleazy’ and ‘Golden Brown’ whilst his between song quips kept the crowd amused, especially when he mentioned getting grief from his Scottish wife over the pronunciation of Scone!
‘Always The Sun’ blasted ironically out through the rain before ‘Peaches’ took us to sunnier climes. The trio of ‘Duchess’, ‘Hanging Around’ and ‘No More Heroes’ rounded off a rocking set that went down a storm with the Rewind masses.
Unfortunately I then had to depart before the suave and silky tones of Bryan Ferry rounded off the weekend but I didn’t feel short changed. The weekend had proved to be a great success once again with great music (mostly!), a great crowd and excellent organisation throughout.
With these Rewind weekends there is always something for everyone and regardless of what is happening in these mental times we live in, as the large sign said at the arena entrance, ‘Music Is Forever’.
Review and photos by Dave Wilson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 July.. In the first hour David pays tribute to the blues/rock guitarist Peter Green.
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