Review and photos by Ken Harrison.
It’s time for a whirlwind nostalgia trip and to step back in time machine to head back to the eighties for a weekend of ‘non-stop’ hits at Rewind North Festival 2018 at Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire.
As our unusually hot summer continues into this weekend, we find Saturday warms up quickly as the mercury rises ever higher. The crowd are ready to party, and many are wearing fancy dress, although some are clearly going to suffer in the heat as there are some big and heavy costumes out in the crowd.
Taking his usual place in the MC spot, the ‘Doctor’ of Doctor and The Medics takes to the stage and licks the crowd into shape. Considering the Doctor came in as a stand in for one of the first Rewind North festivals, you can’t imagine anyone else doing the job now.
Saturday begins with The Undertones (a favourite of the late John Peel), playing a scorching set of classic singles including ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘Teenage Kicks’, ‘Wednesday Week’ and ‘Here Comes Summer’ to get the afternoon off to a flying start. Their early hits are now approaching 40 years old, but still sound fresh and are well appreciated by the crowd.
In between acts, we get DJ’s and karaoke to keep the crowd moving while the stage is set up for the next act. 1970’s star Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel are up next and although Harley is clearly struggling with a hip problem these days, performs a 25 minute set on a chair with his guitar. It doesn’t affect his performance with great vocals and classic songs including ‘Judy Teen’ and the classics ‘Mr Soft’ and ‘Come Up And See Me’.
Scottish band Big Country follow with a boisterous and lively set of 80’s classic guitar based hits including ‘Chance’ and ‘Fields Of Fire’. Howard Jones and his band take the stage next with more hits ‘What is Love’, ‘Pearl in the Shell’, ‘New Song’, ‘Like To Get To Know You Well' plus new material too, to close the afternoon session on an upbeat note.
The evening opens up with Billy Ocean, Captain Sensible, The Fizz (Cheryl Baker and Mike Nolan from Bucks Fizz), Kim Appleby (Mel & Kim) and Tiffany with ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ and her new single ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.
Another 70’s superstar Leo Sayer continues into the evening with his set, followed by a 25 minute set of Soft Cell and solo hits ‘Tainted Love’ and 70’s legends The Jacksons taking the headline slot to bring the Saturday to a massive close.
Sunday gives us Hue and Cry to start off the day with 'Looking for Linda' and 'Labour of Love', followed by some London soul from Soul II Soul courtesy of Jazzy B and Caron Wheeler (Back To Life).
Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats are back with an incendiary set of Rats classics including ‘Rat Trap’, ‘Like Clockwork’, ‘Mary of The Fourth Form’ and ‘I Don't Like Mondays’, with Geldof pacing the stage waiting to pounce with spit infused lyrics.
Birmingham’s Musical Youth (Dennis Seaton) follow with some home grown Reggae and ‘Pass The Dutchie’ and some classic covers including ‘Jimmy Cliff’s ‘The Harder They Come’. Back from nowhere comes Wendy James (of Transmission Vamp) with a short set of their hits: - 'Baby I Don’t Care' and 'I Want Your Love'.
At last Doctor & The Medics take to the stage, opening with Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’ and a killer version of The Cult’s ‘Sanctuary’, complete with guitar playing Cyberman!
Leee John (Imagination) is up next with ‘Flashback’, ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Just an Illusion’ swiftly followed by Sheffield’s Heaven 17 and a half an hour of early 80’s electro including ‘(Ee don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’, ‘Come Live With Me’, a cover of Bowie’s ‘Lets Dance’ and of course the ’83 smash hit with the rising, stomping chorus - ‘Temptation.’ Sing along.
Midge Ure (Ultravox) opens his set with ‘Hymn’ and includes ‘If I Was’, ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ and ‘Vienna’, with his powerful vocals and virtuoso guitar. The penultimate act for Sunday is Bonnie Tyler, with a half hour set of rocking songs in her distinctive husky rock vocal including ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ and ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’.
As the weekend draws to a close, OMD it the stage with a hi-tech stage set and Andy McCluskey up front on his bass, bouncing around the stage like a man possessed, to perform ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Messages’, 'Souvenir’ and ‘Tesla Girls' to bring the curtain down on a fantastic weekend of (mostly) 80’s popular hits.
The retro 80's music scene is still pretty vibrant with a number of 80’s themed festivals currently running across the country - this is one of three festival weekends across the country under the ‘Rewind’ banner. Most of these artists are currently out and about on the road in the UK and you will probably catch them during the year at a venue near you. The 80’s may have been thirty years ago, but it’s still sounding pretty good for the 21st Century.
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