Category: Music review


On Friday morning we left Edinburgh at 8.30 am to make our way to Northampton. The A407 is a lovely bit of road.

Part of the A407 scenery. Would be lovely on a trike.

We stopped off at Gretna Green Services where Chris went in search of a pastie and came back grinning like a naughty school boy. He hadn’t found a pastie, but he had found sweets. “Car lollies” he proclaimed proudly.

Then we got to the M6 and the scenery got a bit boring and I started to doze off. The journey was longer than the Google Maps lie of six hours, as bad traffic caused us to travel only 16 miles in nearly two hours. We finally got to Den and Sam’s place in Northampton at just gone 6.00 pm. We had a nice time catching up with them and had an early’ish night for a change.

Saturday morning we left Northampton at 8.30am and got to Henley-On-Thames at not long past 10.00am. This was far too early, so we ate the sandwiches Den made us then queued until midday. We bought a souvenier program for seven quid, then went straight to the only stage and made sure we were near the front for Haircut 100 as they were the third act on. But again we had to wait. The acts didn’t start until 2pm. So Chris went and got some noodles for lunch. Then it rained into our noodle boxes, and during most of he first two acts; The Real Thing and Hue and Cry.

Haircut 100 brought the sun with them, with their songs Blue Hat for a Blue Day and their closing song, Fantastic Day. Apart from a bit of feedback at the beginning of Whistle Down the Wind, their set was lovely.

Nick Heyward on stage with Haircut 100

After Haircut 100 we went for a walk around, away from the main stage, and got some afternoon tea. We could hear the sets by Billy Ocean, Fiction Factory and some of Katrina of Katrina and the Waves. We bought two three-legged stools for five quid each so we could rest our feet, then we went back into the crowd at the main stage half way through Katrina’s set. This time we got about half way through the crowd as I couldn’t face being so hemmed in again.

We got The Original Bucks Fizz, who finished with Making Your Mind Up, and ABC, who really rocked the crowd and finished with The Look Of Love. Then there was Bananarama, who were better than I thought they would be, Howard Jones who was brilliant as always, Village People, who performed with backing tracks instead of the band that others had used. And lastly Holly Johnson who sang some Frankie Goes to Hollywood songs and some of his solo songs. He sang Relax of course, everyone was waiting for it and we thought it was last song. But then he sang The Power Of Love, “a song he’d rather be remembered for”, he said. And it was amazing. Then we got some fireworks to end the shows for the night.

We picked our way through the litter to the food outlets and bought pancakes with sugar and lemon, then spent three-quarters of an hour in the car trying to get out of the field so we could get back to our Travelodge in Maidenhead.

I was impressed not only by the performers today, but the people who made an effort and got dressed up. All that fluro, and all those characters. I suspect many of them were drunk. Personally I had a latte and nothing else, the less time spent in Festival portoloos the better. I only used them twice and both times I was thankful for Royal Britannia serviettes in my pocket because there was no loo paper. I saw one lady pull a loo roll from her bag, no doubt a seasoned festival-goer.

Even clowns get stressed and need a massage

Tomorrow we get to do it all again…

Once upon a time, well in the 80s actually, I had a favourite little black dress. I’ve kept it all these years because little black dresses aren’t supposed to go out of fashion, and because I am a cheap skate, and I thought that one day this particular style might be fashionable enough to wear again. To tell the truth it’s a bit tight on me now, so for the past couple of years it has been hiding in my daughter’s closet.

Well on Saturday I was out shopping with my daughter and I was feeling pretty good as I’d found some size two and three boots and shoes that looked quite nice for kids-section footwear. (I have a somewhat limited palate with such tiny feet). Feeling triumphant with my bag of shoeboxes, Sarah and I were walking past Ice, and on the rack at the front of the shop I saw an almost exact replica of my little black dress! The material was different but the design was almost exactly the same. The strapless fitted bodice, the criss-cross skirt, it was all there. Sarah vowed that she would now wear my vintage dress with pride.

Now on to other nostalgia, on Tuesday we (my husband, daughter and I) went to see the reformed Spandau Ballet and their support act Tears for Fears. I’d booked the tickets ages ago so we could get good seats. We had the first row of the second, centre section, so there were eleven rows and a gap in front of us.

The pre-support act was only on for half an hour and we walked in a few minutes late missing the start. There were three guys sat on stools, two had acoustic guitars, and the completely bald man in the middle was singing and talking to the audience. They played like they were completely at home, and home was a country pub somewhere, not a 10,000+seat entertainment centre. The act, according to the program was Jack Jones, and not knowing what he’d released, I didn’t realise that it was not Jack Jones at all until the last song. Some of the songs along the way did seem familiar, but it wasn’t until they played Onion Skin that I twigged that this was in fact an acoustic set of Boom Crash Opera! The last time I saw them was the very late 80s or perhaps early 1990? They were support act to 1927 and I’d seen them at this very same venue. Back then the lead singer had very long curly hair that he flung around a lot. Now he looked more like Yul Brynner, and although the music was more folksy than the old raucous rock ‘n’ roll, it was still very good. When they finished, we had a short interval and it was Tears For Fears turn to take the stage.

To be honest, I was as much there to see Roland and Curt as I was there to see Spandau Ballet. I constantly played The Hurting in my teenage years, along with music by Depeche Mode, Jean-Michel Jarre, Howard Jones, Madness and a few other artists and bands. In fact, Tears for Fears and Madness were two bands I thought I’d never see live having missed out on them the first time around for the usual reasons; too young, no money, no transport, etc. Well, I’ve made up for lost time in my 40s. Last year I went to see Madness and The Human League at the V Festival and now this year I also have Tears For Fears on my “I’ve seen them live” list.

Tears For Fears did not disappoint. Curt started with a slow version of Mad World; then they launched straight into Everybody Wants To Rule The World. The crowd loved them and I could not believe how lucky I was to have this chance to see them perform. Roland has a few relatives living here so he gave them a shout-out during the performance, which was nice. One of my favourites, Woman In Chains was amazing! Their extra backing singer is very special in this particular song. Their set was quite short, only 50 minutes, but of course they had to play Shout, which they saved for last, leaving on a high note. Then the roadies got the stage ready for Spandau Ballet. Usually I like to watch this hive of activity in between acts, but this time I spent most of the time queuing for the ladies loos. Well, Spandau was due to play for two whole hours and four hours is a long time with no loo break!

Spandau Ballet did the whole heightened-anticipation thing of having a slightly see-through white sheet hanging in front of the stage; At first it had projections on it, old footage of the band, that kind of thing, I felt the tension in the room build. The music got louder, the sheet was back-lit and you could see them through the sheet, which dramatically dropped for the big reveal: The crowd of course went wild.

The last time I saw Spandau Ballet I was about the same age as my daughter is now, it was around 1983 I think, and back then I thought that Steve Norman the sax/percussion/guitar player was the bee’s knees. I’m happy to report that he has still got it. My daughter even remarked, “He’s pretty hot…. For an old man” Praise indeed. Guitarist and songwriter Gary Kemp looked pretty serious throughout a lot of the concert but even he flashed frequent big smiles. Brother and guitarist, Martin Kemp looked happy and self-assured throughout the night, in what suspiciously looked like leather trousers. John Keebles thrashed the drums all night long; he was a machine! Except we all know real drummers and drum machines are very different. I’ll leave the drummer jokes alone.

And Tony, well, what can I say? What a voice! Strong, emotive, he’s still got it in spades. He is not as svelte as the others, but he was racing around that stage and jumping up and down all over the place. By the end of the night there was a big sweat patch on the back of his jacket, (that he NEVER took off). He was always smiling and having a genuinely good time, like everybody’s favourite uncle on the dance floor at a wedding reception. And I mean that in a nice way, not a ‘point and laugh’ way. Although, I had to laugh when he tentatively stepped on the front speakers before standing on them properly. It’s all very well being rock ‘n’ roll, but Tony’s making sure he does it safely.

I couldn’t possibly list my highlights, as there were so many. But I have to say that the stripped down Pride, with just Gary and Tony is fantastic, and Round And Round with the 80s projections on the big screen behind them, was brilliant for nostalgia value. Even they were turning around to have a look!

Most of the rest of the time the on-stage camera crew were doing a grand job of capturing the performance for the big screen. A classic moment was a lovely shot of Steve’s rear end, until Steve stepped backwards and the screen turned to black. 😀

After a couple of encores, Spandau Ballet finally took their beers and left the stage, and we left the venue to join the other 10,000+ people trying to get out of the car park. We turned on the radio and 97.3 were playing Tears For Fears and Spandau Ballet for most of our trip home. Lovely.

Since then we have found a few YouTube videos of the Brisbane performance. This guy has some videos and a link to his Flickr account, which has some great photos of the night.

We took some photos but they weren’t great. These are about the best of the blurry bunch.

I hope I have as much energy as these guys when I’m their age, which to be honest is not that far away. (They are all between 49 and 51) it’s good news for us that they have left their bad feelings behind and moved on. Life’s too short to bear grudges, if they did that then thousands of fans would miss out on a real treat. After all, who wouldn’t want to sing along to True with Spandau Ballet? Some songs, like some little black dresses, just don’t go out of fashion.