22 August 2016 (gig)
25 August 2016
TORRENTIAL rain is about as welcome at a 80s summer festival as a wasp in your leg-warmers.
But when rain soaked the Rewind Festival South crowd every day, forcing them to cover up their colourful costumes, a true disco fever helped to revive their dampened spirits.
Helping to wash away the rainy day blues, Erasure's Andy Bell and the equally vibrant Jimmy Somerville transported them to the sunny days of yesteryear, while Earth, Wind and Fire and The Real Thing brought sunshine to the dance floor.
And when The Farm's Peter Hooton sang All Together Now in the middle of a downpour, an almost wartime comaraderie was recreated as the crowds linked arms while images of the trenches flashed on the stage.
This memorable and poignant moment, which was part of Martyn Ware's British Electric Foundation set, could not have been more appropriate during the blustery showers, and many festival goers' own tears mingled in with the weather.
The weekend's 80s extravaganza was opened by Tony Hadley, much to the audience's surprise as he is usually one of the headliners.
But this was no ordinary set by the Spandau Ballet star as this time he came complete with the South Bank Sinfonia Orchestra, creating a set and a vibe reminiscent of 007 himself. This sharp-suited heartthrob certainly looked the part, and we suspect it was a dry martini that he was sipping on stage.
Talking of James Bond, another suit-wearing star Rick Astley embarked on a mission almost impossible to perform at Rewind, having earlier that day wowed the audience at the V Festival in Essex.
"Two-festival Rick" had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he played hits like Hold Me In Your Arms and Never Gonna Give You Up, alongside tunes from his recent No 1 album 50.
Other upbeat acts included the ever-exuberant Leo Sayer who at 68 danced around the stage to songs like You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, with the energy of someone half his age.
And it was certainly a mystery to the audience how Toyah, who sang hits like I Want To Be Free, retains her youthful good looks.
Ringing in the changes at Rewind South for the first time ever was Erasure's flamboyant Andy Bell who headlined on Saturday night. The Henley crowd were treated to classics like Sometimes and Respect as Andy dazzled the audience in his sequinned shorts.
It was also a first time appearance for bubbly redhead Sarah Jane Morris, the voice of the unforgettable vocal on the Communards' Don't Leave Me This Way.
The curly-haired singer was welcomed onto stage as a special guest by Jimmy Somerville to perform a celebratory version of the song to mark its 30th anniversary,
Sunday saw a ray of hope for the festival-goers as the clouds parted for a couple of hours of much-welcome sunshine.
Getting the day off to a nostalgic start were the Blockheads, with a set that would have made the late Ian Drury proud as the audiences were hit with their rhythm sticks and found many Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3).
The Beat continued the uplifting vibe, followed by the disco grooves of Earth, Wind and Fire, that transformed the festival into a Boogie Wonderland.
The weather then took a turn for the worse but the bleak outlook was saved by some rousing anthems from the collective talents of the British Electric Foundation, particularly Glenn Gregory's Heaven 17 hit Temptation.
Dynamic Heather Small then belted out her own anthem Proud, which she dedicated to the medal-winning GB Olympic heroes, echoing Hadley's Gold at the beginning of the festival.
An absolute gift for the audience was the Fine Young Cannibal's frontman Roland Gift whose unique voice has certainly stood the test of time in songs such as Johnny Come Home and She Drives Me Crazy.
Headlining on Sunday was the 80s very own dandy highwayman, the enigmatic Adam Ant. Cutting a dashing figure in his trademark military tunic and Napoleon-style hat, he stood and delivered classic hits such as Ant Music, Goody Two Shoes and Kings of the Wild Frontier.
One of the most difficult parts of Rewind 2016 was saying hello and waving goodbye to the festival's much-loved Marc Almond who is reported to have announced his last ever performance at Henley.
As the fans paid homage to the Soft Cell frontman with a sea of inflatable pink flamingos, which literally turned the grey skies pink, Marc was visibly moved by this show of appreciation. He even brought his nephews and niece on stage during Tainted Love to share this momentous occasion.
Just like one of his hit songs, Something's Gotten Hold of Our Hearts, Marc Almond will forever remain a Rewind treasure.
Photo credit: Michael Palmer
Review: Sue Archer and Leigh Adams