07 August 2022 (gig)
09 August 2022
Adam Ant, Wet Wet Wet, Howard Jones, Heaven 17, Toyah, Sister Sledge.
Rumours did the rounds. A gold lame jacket was spotted sucking on a latte in a coffee bar; a wave of blond hair was flapping uncontrollably on the rowing boats at Pickie Pool and somone with a Sheffield accent was buying a cornet from Mr Whippy.
Unfortunately all turned out to be a lexicon of lies as the fabled lead singer of ABC, Martin Fry, was elsewhere and Let's Rock had lost one of its headline acts. On the flipside, there were more than enough poptastic eighties acts to fill the void.
For those of us that grew up in that decade of extravagance it's hard to comprehend that Toyah Wilcox is now a pensioner. Even she seems unaware of her advanced years as she continously bounded around the stage giving it her all even though she was booked for early slot on stage.
It's easy to forget just how good a band Heaven 17 are and how many hits they chalked up over the years. The stand out here was a pulsating version of Facist Groove Thang with lead singer Glenn Gregory another who looks far too fit and trim than a man his age has a right to.
One consrquence of the loss of ABC may have been an unnecessary extended set by soulsters Sister Sledge. While the hits such as Frankie and Lost in Music where warmly receieved by the accepting crowd, drawn out versions of various Chic classics paled.
As with any outdoor event, it is the weather that makes or breaks the experience. And this gig came into it's own as the sun began to set on what was a gloriously sunny day.
And no 80's revivalist gig would be complete without the presence of Howard Jones. Love him or hate him, his music was ubiquitous across the decade. Here he was without his mime artist sidekick, but ably stepping into the breech was, with the possible exception of hair loom DJ Pat Sharp (who was here keeping the VIPs bopping during the changeovers) the bad barnet of the epoch – Nick Beggs.
The Kajagoogoo bassist and later frontman stole the show with a fabulous version of Too Shy – even if it was a little spoilt by the camerman's musical illiteracy by focusing on the rhythm guitarist rather than Beggs' silky bass licks.
But the undoubed king of the revivalist frontier is Adam Ant. Although he pitched the crowd a couple of curve balls in the form of earlier songs from his back catalogue, even these were returned with love. The infuriating Prince Charming was greeted like a long lost friend and former chart toppers Ant Music and Stand and Deliver ensured many gig goers would awken next day with aching muscles that they had forgotten they had.
The question remains why these aging artists continue to grace stages at home and abroad. The answer must be because it is what they are simply born to do. Madonna famously said that she would only stop “when you fucking kill me”.
The greater question is why do we continue to turn up in our thousands to witness the spectacle of pop artists attempt age defying performances. Are we like the curious Londoners that visited the Bethlem asylum for the bewildered to poke fun and laugh at the inmates' self-absorbed antics?
I don't think so. We can put it down to pure nostalgia for our former selves- a recognition of who we were then and, of course, a knowing wink and acknowledgement of who and what we are now.
Or maybe we just want to dance with people that look like we do. Whatever. Let's just be thankful that the inflated ego and desperation to be loved ,coupled with the joy of simply playing music and interacting with a crowd, will keep Adam Ant and Toyah touring until it's Ed Sheerin's turn to ride the tour bus to destination nostalgia.