Rewind Festival is crammed to the rafters with 80's greats

80s Rewind Festival review

By Tricia Owen-Williams | Published: Tue 1st Sep 2009

around the festival site (1)

Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd August 2009
Temple Island Meadows, near Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 3DB, England MAP
adult weekend with camping £95, children (under 12) £47.50
Daily capacity: 20,000
Last updated: Fri 6th Feb 2009

around the festival site (1)
If you love 80's music you missed out on a real treat this weekend just gone. The 80's Rewind Festival was crammed to the rafters with 80's greats like Paul Young, Midge Ure, Kim Wilde, and Gloria Gaynor to name but a few.

When I think festival, thoughts of wellies, way too much drinking, teenagers, die hard music fans, knee high mud and filthy toilets spring to mind. But Rewind Festival was completely different. It was set in ever so posh Henley Upon Thames for a start, and took place over two days of blistering heat. It was also full of middle class couples and young families, so it was more like sip Pimms all day, wear your coolest shades, have family fun and slap on the suncream.

I was mighty miffed when I turned up. Okay so it was the first year of the Rewind Festival, which meant I did expect some teething problems. But should it have really taken me nigh on two hours to get my passes to get in and spend that entire two hours walking from one side of the festival site to the other in the heat of the midday sun? And surely someone should have known where I had to go to once I got said passes without passing me from pillar to post? In fact it took so long that I had to listen to Toyah lisping her way through 'Crazy Horses' from the car park. From what I could hear I didn't miss much anyway.

Finally, I got in (after having to take any form of food and even water back to the car as you weren't allowed to take anything in) and what met me was a fair crowd of people milling around the stage, along with countless stalls offering the usual festival food at extortionate prices. Where I sat, in the very sparse VIP area, the water was £2, burgers were £6.50, a Pimms £6.50 and a jug of Pimms a choking £23!! There were other options like sloppy curry for around £3 and wood oven pizzas for +£5 but none of them looked that appealing to me!

China Crisis
I was much more interested in the days' acts; after all most of them had been artists that I'd listened to growing up as a kid! It was a shame that China Crisis was the first group I got to see, as they gave a dishevelled, lacklustre performance of their hits that made me daydream! Still, it gave me time to calm down after boiling with anger about just how long it took to get in!

The next band, The Real Thing, were far more entertaining. They burst onto stage in white jumpsuits, and really started to get the crowd going with 'You to Me are Everything' and 'Can't Get By Without You'. They can actually sing as well, which is actually quite significant when I compare them to other artists who performed at Rewind over the two days.

Billy Ocean
The biggest hit of the day for me had to be the suave, ever smiling Billy Ocean looking incredibly dapper in a three piece suit and resplendent with his grey dreadlocks and matching beard. The 10,000 strong crowd (people had flooded in by now) were totally immersed in his silky tones and magnificent rendition of hit after hit including 'Rabbi', 'Caribbean Queen', 'Get Outta My Dreams' and 'When the Going Gets Tough'. He certainly knows how to get the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, and when he was swamped with ardent fans after the set it was obvious that he hasn't lost any of his appeal, even though his biggest hits were twenty years ago!
Doctor and the Medics
Cutting Crew were forgettable, and Doctor and the Medics were just as mad as always. They had just ten minutes to slap everyone round the face with their rocky, yet still ever so cheesy 80's sound. Frontman The Doctor was a sight for sore eyes with his fantastic Union Jack coat and an energetic, sing along version of 'Spirit In The Sky'. It's such an iconic song that I don't think there was one person in the crowd that wasn't singing along to the chorus. The Doctor encouraged everyone to "get naked", but thankfully no one obliged. Why would they when a fair sprinkling had obviously spent time and money donning mullet wigs, neon leg warmers and tutus!

Belinda Carlisle
The next few acts seemed to pass me by, perhaps it was too much Pimms or too many fair rides, but by the time I looked up 15,000 people were packed in front of the stage, the sun was starting to set and Belinda Carlisle was pulling a strop. Apparently the desk had died and she exited stage right until the problems were fixed. When everything was eventually sorted my ears pricked up to tunes like 'Circle In The Sand', 'Leave A Light On For Me' and 'Heaven is a Place on Earth'. Her voice seemed to sound better than it did twenty years ago, far more mature. Can't say much for her dress sense, but each to their own!

Bananarama were, how do I put it politely, rubbish! Lack of rehearsal, lack of concentration, lack of singing ability and technical hitches all added to the positively mediocre performance. I'm surprised they didn't get booed off the stage with their less than appealing performances of 'Robert De Niro's Waiting', 'Guilty', 'Venus' and 'Goodbye'. They certainly chose a very apt song to finish on as I couldn't wait to see the back of them.

Rick Astley
As they were playing you could see Rick Astley just to the left of stage receiving a present from Kim Wilde and family. It soon became evident what they had given him when he struts on stage in a smart grey suit and his brand new silver sparkly boots. Up close he has crow's feet galore and looks his age, but on stage he has the girls swooning. His amazing voice hasn't changed though. I watched his set intently as the crowd went wild for 'Together Forever', 'Dance With Me', a cover of 'When I Fall in Love' and 'Never Gonna Give You Up'. I don't know why he disappeared from the limelight all those years ago but can't help but feel he would be massively successful if he'd stuck at it. Shame.

I waited impatiently for the big band finale from Kim Wilde. I didn't expect great things as I didn't think she was that strong a singer but she was actually serious good. Clad in a black leather jacket and donning bleach blonde hair she treated the crowd to lots of impromptu chats about how good it was to have a festival where you can bring your grandchildren too. It did seem that she was chatting to catch her breath after each tune as I could hear lots of huffing and puffing, but she is getting on a bit after all! The audience loved it though as they clapped their hands in time to tunes and enjoyed her cover of Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy the Silence'. Her really recognisable hit 'Kids of America' was saved till last and by all accounts rocked the joint.

I had taken the opportunity to avoid the traffic getting out of the festival to be able to retreat to my very lovely friend's house just outside Henley, but there was a fantastic fireworks display to finish off the day with a bang.

With the fiasco of trying to get in almost forgotten about, I looked forward to the next day's acts as I climbed into my comfy bed and drifted off to sleep thinking about all the poor campers in their cold sleeping bags and tents. No thanks!

Kim Wilde
review by: Tricia Owen-Williams

photos by: Michelle Owen-Williams

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