A glorious summer heatwave, fantastic acts and World Cup England celebrations helped to make this year’s Chilfest a weekend to remember.
Nick Heyward, who was the first to perform after England’s victory over Sweden, summed up the magical atmosphere by starting his set with a rendition of ‘Three Lions’ (Football’s Coming Home), sparking a raucous reception.
Chilfest had gone out of its way to ensure that football-loving music fans were not disappointed by showing the match live on big screens (in silent mode), while the acts continued to perform on the Tring stage.
Ironically, England’s first goal was scored during Johnny Hates Jazz’s performance of ‘I Don’t Want to be a Hero’ – a moment lead singer Clark Datchler described as “fantastic and an incredible situation to be in”.
All of the other acts to perform that day paid homage to the England team and spoke of the day being an unforgettable and rare occasion.
Before the drama unfolded on Saturday, Chilfest 2018 opened with a chilled and sophisticated summer evening vibe, courtesy of the singing maestro himself – Tony Hadley.
Accompanied by the exquisite Sinfonia Orchestra, the ex-Spandau Ballet frontman looked as dashing as always as he regaled the audience and took them on an unforgettable musical journey.
Interspersed with his light-hearted banter and his trademark tumbler of Jack Daniels, Tony delighted the audience with a string of songs, including Spandau gems such as ‘Gold’, ‘Through the Barricades’ and ‘True’. He also performed from his successful new album ‘Talking to the Moon’, and delivered a great cover version of Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’.
Tony’s special guest singers were the incredibly talented female artists, Gabrielle, Mica Paris and Alison Limerick, who each rose to the occasion by performing a selection of their famous hits, including ‘Rise’, ‘My One Temptation’ and ‘Where Love Lives’. The combination of amazing female vocals, Tony’s velvet tones and a rousing orchestra made it a truly magical summer’s eve – what a great opener for Chilfest!
Saturday’s tropical summer conditions were crying out for a reggae vibe and this was delivered in style by Lovers Rock trio – Victor Romero, Janet Kay and Carroll Thompson.
Among their many memorable tunes were ‘I’m so Sorry’ ‘Hopelessly in Love’, ‘Silly Games’ and ‘Wishing on a Star’.
After suffering a microphone malfunction during half of their opening song ‘That’s Entertainment’, From the Jam were soon restored to full sound – to the cheers of an appreciative crowd who sounded like England had scored a goal.
Their energetic set was a highlight of the day’s show as they belted through Jam classics such as ‘Going Underground’, ‘Eton Rifles’, ‘When You’re Young’ and ‘Start’, with Russell Hasting’s Weller-like tones giving an authentic Jam feel.
Despite the England match coinciding with her set, Hazell O’Connor won over the crowd with a selection of her greatest hits including ‘Will You’, ‘Eighth Day’ and ‘Decadent Days’.
Matching From The Jam’s ‘two concerts in one day’ feat, were the boys from Go West who actually went from south to north after performing in Southampton earlier. They wowed the crowd with their all-time classics, ‘We Close our Eyes’, ‘Call Me’ and ‘King of Wishful Thinking’, as well as covers such as Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’.
The Beat were also in tune with the celebratory vibe of the day, praising the England score as they dived into their ska-tastic back catalogue of hits including ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’, ‘Too Nice to Talk to’ and ‘Can’t get Used to Losing You’. The Brummie band, featuring Ranking Roger and his son Ranking Junior, also performed songs from their hit album ‘Bounce’, which hit all the right notes and had the crowd bouncing, including their ever-faithful rude boys and girls.
The penultimate act was 80s pin-up Kim Wilde who has enjoyed one of her most successful years since back in the day, with a smash hit album ‘Here Come the Aliens’ and accompanying tour under her belt.
As well as singing her latest releases ‘Birthday’ and ‘Pop Don’t Stop’, Kim’s energy was relentless as she performed hit after hit such as ‘Kids in America’, ‘Chequered Love’ and ‘You Keep me Hanging on’. Her band, which includes her brother Ricky and niece Scarlett, were as dynamic as their leading lady.
Bringing a touch of theatrical class to close Chilfest was the enigmatic and dramatic, Marc Almond. Ending a truly fantastic day, Marc took the audience on a whistle-stop tour of pure theatre and pop. Waving their pink flamingoes, the crowd were thrilled by hits such as Gene Pitney’s duo ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of my Heart’, ‘Tainted Love’ and “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’.
This was a Chilfest as memorable as it gets, with a winning combination of shining sun, songs and soccer – a match made in heaven!
Photo credit: Simon Hargrave