As some of you may have noticed, Ross and I attended the Rewind Festival in Henley-on-Thames last weekend. Over the coming week I will be publishing the interviews that Ross and I recorded with some of the performing artists including Rick Astley, Bonnie Tyler and Nick Heyward but first I am going to kick off with Ross’ review of the event itself.
The sixth annual Rewind festival hit Henley this past weekend with a series of superb performances from a variety of 80s icons. The event, which noticeably improves year on year in terms of organisation and presentation, continues to be a joyous, fun-filled affair which even this summer’s indecisive weather refused to dampen. After a foreboding forecast for Sunday, Rewind revellers flocked to Temple Island Meadows ready to take on the elements – fortunately, the only umbrellas needed over what turned out to be a glorious August weekend were for show when the Weather Girls’ Martha Wash belted out classic 80s anthem “It’s Raining Men” (curiously enough, a song that Martha herself said that she never expected to be a hit and recorded in less than 90 minutes back in 1982).
Martha’s open and friendly attitude backstage was shared by all of the acts I encountered – from Haircut One Hundred’s Nick Heyward discussing his desire to write a hard rock classic to Rick Astley humbly discussing the RickRolling phenomenon of 2008, it was clear the performers were there to enjoy the weekend just as much as the audience – something underlined by a number of the acts (including Nick, Hazel O’Connor and The South) staying behind after their time on stage to watch the show ‘out front’ rather than behind the scenes. Amongst the 24 acts over the weekend, particular standout performances came from Heyward, Jason Donovan, Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley (who did an outstanding rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”), the ever energetic Jimmy Somerville, Rick Astley (his superb take on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was probably the highlight of the entire festival), and the weekend was capped off with an excellent set from Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey.
Whilst the music takes centre stage, the festival has so much more to offer – with activities going on far into the night, including a silent disco, hot tub station, thrilling fairground rides and even a roller disco, there is plenty to be occupied with when not in the main festival field. There’s also a fantastic choice of food on offer, with cuisine from all corners of the world, and the only disappointment being that there’s not enough time to try some of everything! I was particularly taken by the excellent products and personality of the Higgidy Pie company – who, by the middle of Sunday afternoon were as sold out as the overall festival! The audience is an attraction in and of itself – the array of costumes evolves each year, making for some fantastic character-spotting. Amongst this year’s best were numerous Beetlejuices… Beetlejeese?… female Ghostbusters, Skeletor, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and a bloke dressed up as a box of Crayola Crayons.
But beyond the crazy costumes and the pitch-perfect performances, what I noticed the most were the smiles. From the audience to the performers themselves, there was not a single person who wasn’t having a great time, as broad grins were exchanged between perfect strangers passing by in the field. The Rewind festival really does get the vibe right. Whilst modern culture often pokes fun at the music (and fashion sense) of the 80s, the keyword is “fun” – something the Rewind festival has in spades and something that deservedly draws a capacity crowd each year, sending the audience home still smiling – and already looking forward to next year’s event.