night of nostalgia is a big hit at Osborne House

Osborne House Concerts 2010 review

By Steve Collins / Marie Magowan | Published: Wed 4th Aug 2010


Saturday 31st July to Sunday 1st August 2010
Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, England MAP
£42 for either day, combined ticket £67.50
Last updated: Mon 26th Jul 2010

In contrast to the relaxed atmosphere at Osborne House on Saturday evening, Sunday was billed as 'The Greatest 80s Party Night'. So although plenty of people were still sat on chairs and picnic blankets, a sizeable portion of the audience had taken the opportunity to dust down their day-glo leg warmers and "Frankie says Relax" t-shirts in anticipation of the evenings entertainment.

around thesite (Sunday)
As we arrived on site the party was already well under way, with local radio DJs entertaining the crowd with a selection of cheesy eighties tunes in anticipation of the acts due to play.

First on stage was Belinda Carlisle, who set a high bar for the evening with an upbeat show. She packed plenty of hits in, including 'Circle In The Sand' and 'Leave A Light On For Me', which gave the audience the first of many sing-a-longs. After twenty minutes she finished with her biggest hit 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth' and left the stage with the stage hands clearing the instruments behind her. The audience might have felt that at this early stage that they were being short-changed with the set length, but with five more bands to fit into just over 3 hours, no one really had the opportunity to complain. Especially as only five minutes later the next artist took to the stage.

Howard Jones
Southampton born musician Howard Jones arrived looking every inch the eighties pop star, wearing a silver snakeskin jacket and matching boots. Fortunately for us all he left his mime artist back in the eighties. With only a short amount of time to win the crowd over, the hits came thick and fast. 'New Song', 'Like To Get To Know You Well' and 'Things Can Only Get Better' got the crowd singing and Howard was quick to pick up on this, encouraging the crowd to sing louder and dance to his beat.

Another quick change on stage and it was time for the next band. Go West found fame in the early eighties with a string of hits that included 'King of Wishful Thinking' and 'We Close Our Eyes'. Given the limited time each band had on stage they took the brave step of dropping some of their own songs for covers. They performed Smokey Robinson's 'The Tracks Of My Tears' as a duet with Rick Astley, and proved that if the interest in their own songs ever dries up, they have a second career as a Kings of Leon tribute act with a note-for-note rendition of 'Sex On Fire'.

Next on stage were ABC, a band that for me always came across as a poor mans Spandau Ballet. As with the previous acts the short set meant no time was wasted getting to their biggest hits. Smokey Robinson got his second name check of the evening when they played their tribute 'When Smokey Sings', which also got the best reaction from the audience. Other hits such as 'Poison Arrow' and 'The Look Of Love' were all present too. Although Martin Fry looked uncomfortable in a suit that may have fitted him the eighties, but was now a little tight, his voice is as strong and rich as it was twenty years ago.

So far the evening had been improving with each act bettering the one before it, but Rick Astley's position in the line up seemed a little bit of a strange choice. Rick's career started just as Stock, Aitken and Waterman's strangle hold on the chart's was coming to an end, and at the time he became a short hand reference for bland disposable pop. I think his elevation up the line up was due to the phenomenon of 'Rick-rolling'- the act of posting links on the internet that take you to the Youtube video of 'Never Gonna Give You Up'.

Whilst Rick has a reasonable voice and a good manner with the crowd, there just wasn't enough big hits in his repertoire to warrant this position in the bill. There were a number of people in the crowd who were clearly just waiting for this one song. His choice of cover - the Pussycat Dolls 'Don't Cha' - was puzzling. Some men can sing songs that were written for women to perform and some men can't, unfortunately Rick falls into the latter. Whether he was trying to be ironic I don't know, but it just came over as disturbing and faintly creepy.

The evening was drawing near to its end with just the headliner left to perform. This for me from when I had heard the planned line up was the act I could not fathom. Bananarama just shouldn't on paper been the headlining act with one third missing (Siobahn Fahey, who was also the most talented of the three) I felt they wouldn't of been able to pull it off. But although I do believe they were far from vocally perfect, the energy and fun they brought to the stage was a fitting end to the evening. They were supported on stage by two male dancers whose moves brought to mind the people on the chat line adverts you see late at night. They had a good rapport going with the crowd and themselves and at one point brought several fans up on stage to perform 'Venus', amongst them Adam Ant and Boy George wannabes. I think their show was helped by the fact that all their songs are great to sing along to, whether it be 'Robert De Niro's Waiting', 'Cruel Summer' or 'Love In The First Degree'.

For many including myself, the evening seemed to be way too short and the crowd were left wanting more – many voiced disappointment that there were no encores. So yet again the organisers have pulled yet another successful weekend out of the bag. What will they have in store for next year? Personally I would like them to be a bit braver with their choices and follow the path that similar shows around the UK have taken, by booking acts that are beyond the pop/classic genres that have been chosen for the last few years. As bands such as Doves have shown, there is a place for them in more civilised venues such as this.

around thesite (Sunday)
review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

photos by: Steve Collins

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