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Sometimes Change Isn’t Inevitable: Rewind Festival 2015

40,000 revellers busting out their tutus and day-glo accessories; Henley-on-Thames welcomed back 80s Rewind with open arms for its seventh year
Billy Ocean

Highlights? Rockabilly madness with the Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom and realising you know more of the original dance moves to Bananarama’s hits than the girls themselves do

Ghostbusters, Whoopee Cushions and Rubik's Cubes – singing and dancing alongside Top Gun's Maverick and Goose, Hi-De-Hi's Yellow Coats and a somewhat portly Freddie Mercury. It could only mean Henley-on-Thames was welcoming back Rewind with open arms.

Now in its seventh year, the Remenham Hill leg of what has grown to be a three venue series of nostalgia-driven weekends across the UK, sold out again in record time, resulting in 40,000 revellers busting out their tutus and day-glo accessories across the two-day event.


But what makes people continue to hanker after the eighties more than any other decade?


Clare Grogan, front woman of Altered Images, summed it up: “I look out at the crowd, who are quite terrifying in numbers when you are waiting backstage, and see people like me who are survivors. It’s an incredible connection. Back in the day we were all so young and naïve – unaware of the trials and tribulations life would throw at us. But here we all are, and we've made it. And life is tough, and it isn't easy, but we've come through together”.

T'pau's Carol Decker


For 2015 the artist line up saw old friends returning – with OMD and The Human League headlining, Nik Kershaw, Go West and T'pau putting their fans through their paces, and Billy Ocean once again garnering possibly the largest roar of appreciation – dapper in his Savile Row tailored suit and now trademark white dreadlocks.

It’s a tried and tested formula. With a razor sharp house band supporting the daytime acts, Rewind provided a slick and more measured running order than previous years. Between the star turns, former Blitz kid producer turned DJ Rusty Egan spun the wheels of steel –100% unashamedly commercial pop. Over the years the bands as well as the audiences have learned exactly what is required. Where once they may have been tempted to pepper their back catalogue-driven set with 'something from our new album' in a bid to remind people they were still relevant, they now shamelessly bang out the hits, microphones aloft, encouraging the crowd to sing back the songs that saw them top the charts over 3 decades ago.

Whilst the main arena and its stars proved more than enough entertainment for the majority, Rewind had more on offer than anyone could rationally expect to experience: A silent disco, a roller disco, a banging house band in the bar tent and more festival fashion than you could wave a tattered pound note at. To do it all you would need at least another 48 hours. For sustenance, The Mac Shac provided warming and comforting stick to your ribs macaroni cheese, whilst pies, burgers and noodles were never in short supply. In fact, on the catering front, the only time “short” could be used as a descriptive was in describing the queues, which were a far less painful experience than at many a music festival.

Highlights? Rockabilly madness with the Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom, realising you know more of the original dance moves to Bananarama’s hits than the girls themselves do, and marvelling at the musical genius of British Electric Foundation – the ultimate eighties supergroup. Sometimes change isn’t inevitable – nor should it be.


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