Step back in time and find out how a 16 year old was the star of the weekend!
Get ready to step back in time at the ultimate 80s festival. Last year's Rewind went ahead against the odds, due to covid restrictions, but this year Rewinders were back in full swing.
Temple Meadows in Henley on Thames is a perfect-sized location for this beloved festival. The site is accessible from Henley town by river taxi, or if you fancy a stroll, you can walk along the riverbank. In classic Rewind style, you can expect plenty of neon and legwarmers and grown-ups dressed as Care Bears, Rubick's Cubes, and also a genuinely big-hearted vibe. The nostalgia and music seem to bring out the best in people. It's a family-friendly, fun festival.
This year the karaoke was a big feature, with a 'Stars in Their Eyes' dressing-up box where you could kit yourself out in a Freddie Mercury or Guns and Roses attire. You may even have spotted the Photogroupie team doing a spot of Dolly Parton, Abba, or Kate Bush over the weekend! If a sing-a-long wasn't your bag, then you could pop along to the silent disco, or the funfair, there was even a pub.
Despite an excuse to dress up and chill out, the music is the main reason these 80s pilgrims (of all ages) flock to Henley. This year's lineup was packed with some of the biggest names of the decade.
Speaking of Abba, Bjorn Again kicked off proceedings on Saturday and got everyone in that party mood. There was even a strange mash-up with “Take A Chance On Me” and House of Pain's “Jump Around”, that worked in an 80s fusion kind of way.
The Stray Cat's, Slim Jim Phantom, got us dancing and strutting to some old-school rockabilly, reminding us that rock and roll was still king – even in the 80s.
Speaking of kings, Level 42's performance on Saturday afternoon was half an hour of pure musical skill and precision. The band was superb with a tight and funky rhythm section, and some exceptional slap bass work from Mr Mark King. Some of their biggest hits featured include, “Running in the Family” and “Lessons in Love”. It would be great to see the band return to Rewind with a longer set next time as headliners.
Odyssey was another joy to behold on Saturday afternoon with their soul-packed set and Johnny Hates Jazz frontman – Clark Datchler's ageless vocals prove that he has somehow managed to turn back the clock.
What was most impressive about this year's lineup was that most of the artists have managed to maintain their vocal clarity, and still sound as you remember them – and in some cases even better!
Belinda Carlisle gave a powerhouse performance including her #1 hit, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” from 1987. Kim Wilde, the biggest selling British female artist of the decade, left her allotment and courgettes to put on a theatrical and energetic set that gave us a taste of what to expect when she heads out on tour later in the year.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood frontman, Holly Johnson began his set with a political leaning. The opening cover of “War” was accompanied by images of nuclear explosions, as Holly smothered the stage with a smoke machine. “Rage Hard”, “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” and “Warriors of the Wasteland” soon followed. In some ways these songs, although inspired by the politics of the time are very much relevant today. After an intense opening Holly announced it was time for some pop. To go from the fierce defiance of “Rage Hard” to the light pop of “Americanos” and “Love Train” shows the depth and sophistication of Holly's music. Silence fell over Henley as Holly performed “The Power of Love”. It was a moving and magical experience to wrap up Saturday at Rewind.
Hothouse Flowers gently eased us into Sunday. But it was time to push any hangovers aside when 2 Tone legends The Selecter took to the stage. The band has lost none of their power and singers Pauline Black and Gaps are enigmatic performers. The band is also making a new album, which will certainly be one to watch out for.
Sunday's lineup was a real champion for black British musicians. The Real Thing – the first British black group to have a number one were on top form for their set. Mica Paris put some soul into Sunday and Lighthouse Family frontman, Tunde also performed energized and uplifting selections from his back catalogue.
Heather Small has always been a charismatic performer and her powerful and distinctive voice has not changed. She paid tribute to the awesome Rewind All-Star band, who are a group of exceptional session musicians who have to learn pretty much all the songs and have little or no rehearsal with the artists. They do a stunning job and are one of the unsung heroes of the festival.
Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey, channeled Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” video by having his backing band made up of female musicians; the only difference being that they can actually play. His set was larger than life and simply huge fun.
Carol Decker from T'Pau, who lives up the road, popped in to sing some of T'Pau's hits from the decade.
The absolute highlight of the festival came from someone who wasn’t even born in the 80’s. 16 year old Indiana Hawkes - son of Chesney Hawkes, stole the show as he joined his Dad on stage, playing his grandfather's (Chip Hawkes) guitar. Chesney's set included a song from his forthcoming album (co-written with pal Nik Kershaw) and his 1991 smash hit “The One and Only”. When Chesney announced that his next song would be Prince’s classic “Purple Rain”, the crowd held their breath - you don’t touch a Prince song unless you can nail it. Well, happy to say Chesney’s version was flawless, but it was his son’s unexpected solo that was something very special. Despite his age, Indiana has an exceptional talent, and humility and genuinely moved people with his remarkable solo that did his family and The Purple One proud.
Midge Ure was ubiquitous in the 80s, from Ultravox to Live Aid to Thin Lizzy and Visage. Starting with the beautiful track “Hymn” and ending with a rousing rendition of “Dancing With Tears in My eyes”, he was another act from the weekend that could have easily had top billing.
The Human League, have recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the “Dare” album, and all the hits from the album were featured in their Sunday headline slot. Phil Oakey was another artist with an enviable voice and his performance of “Human” was particularly moving. In the career-spanning set, there were also 90s hits from their “Octopus” album: “Tell Me When” and “One Man in My Heart”, which was a moment for Susan Ann Sulley to take center stage and perform this glorious ballad. “Together in Electric Deams” wrapped up another fantastic Rewind festival as people packed up their deeley boppers and mullet wigs until next year.
Although Rewind is a legacy festival, many of these artists are still making music, so check out your favourite artists and their new releases too.
Thank you Rewind, we had a blast at the most friendly and fun festival around!
Review by Cathy Clark
Photos Gerry Driver