Live: Rewind, Capesthorne Hall, August 2015.

rewind stag

rewind crowd from stage

It was party time at Capesthorne Hall over the weekend as the latest of the now-annual Rewind festivals was held at the Siddington stately home.

The event, which had a daily capacity 20,000, was sold out as thousands of fans of the 80s legends descended on Capesthorne in a range of fancy dress outfits.

The Rewind Festival is billed as a celebration of 80s music but it’s as much about the party atmosphere as the tunes.

The fans’ costumes were many, varied and wonderful but did more time travelling than Marty McFly (1985), ranging from the chronologically accurate (I Want to Break Free era Freddie Mercury, 1984) to at least one set of Tracy Brothers (Thunderbirds, 1960s), a number of spaghetti western Clint Eastwoods (mid 60s), a surprisingly large number of Oompa Loompas (1964), as well as two Chubby Browns in complete suits and flying helmets.

But for those truly in their touch with their inner 80s, Top Gun (1986) provided much inspiration as did pukka 80s star Adam Ant and ska (accurate, and also for minimal effort — only a pork pie hat a Specials T-shirt are needed).

As for the music on offer, it was hard to be critical. The acts have been playing their respective crowd-pleasers for 30 years or more, so the perfor mances were slick and polished.

The downside of this was a lack of edge — at times it was a bit like having a radio playing loudly. At one point I thought The South had finished but no, it was just a particularly polished section.

rewind howardrewind selector pauline tamb

I was a massive fan of Howard Jones back in the day and was looking forward to him, but his performance left me curiously unmoved, so like the album recordings was it.

I raised this dilemma with a bloke who drives stage rigs around Europe, standing backstage close to his lorry trailer.

“It’s because you’re a different person,” he said wisely.

”You’re not the same fella as you were when you were 18 —you’ve heard a lot of music since then.”

He might have a point; Jones is very much of his time, and he and I must have played Like To Get You Know Well thousands of times.

rewind kid singingrewind coconuts

On the other hand, Kid Creole and his Coconuts play party music and a party is a party. He was excellent and I only wished I was lying on the grass drinking a pint of cider (dressed as a chronologically correct figure) rather than reporting. I was texting a chum while watching the bands and he said he saw Kid back in the 80s and it was still one of the best gigs he’s ever been to.

rewind rats guitarrewind bob1

rewind sign2rewind rats guitar3

“Slick and polished” is a phrase that can never be applied to Sir Bob Geldof — his Boomtown Rats competently rattled off their hits but the presence of Bob means you’re never quite sure that you’re going to get, whether it’s chucking out a few profanities or dropping in a tribute to John Lee Hooker mid-set. Of the acts I caught, his was the only one that felt like an actual gig.

Bob himself prowled the stage like a wannabe Mick Jagger, pausing only to mock his fake snakeskin suit and repeatedly wish Macclesfield hello (One of his businesses was based there so he presumably knows the town).

As for the rest: they came, they played, they conquered the fans who already loved them, from Bananarama to OMD (who I missed sadly). Backstage they were all being gamely interviewed, though I suspect that most people in the VIP area didn’t know who John “St Elmo’s Fire” Parr was as he waved them goodbye. But as he’s sold 9,999,996 albums more than me, he gets the last laugh.

I mentioned this to someone and he said he’d seen Parr in a pub in Stoke, talking about his life and playing music. He said he was thoroughly nice chap. Parr also wrote The Best A Man Can Get, the music used in the Gillette razor commercials, which also became the company’s slogan.

There were other attractions — a funfair, street entertainers, silent disco, comedy store — but it would be nothing without the fans, who turned out to relive their youth, dress up, soak up the sun in a beautiful part of England and drink beer. As Sir Bob said, what could possibly be better?

Roll on next year.

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