Fans of 80’s music have had an early Christmas present as Let’s Rock, The Retro Winter Tour played arenas across the UK to get everyone into the festive spirit. After a glorious summer of one-day outdoor festival shows, including Liverpool and Leeds, Let’s Rock looked indoors in the run-up to the festive season with headliners including Tony Hadley, Nik Kershaw, Jimmy Somerville and Marc Almond. Another season of summer events is planned for 2020.
For the first half of the show the stars came thick and fast. Dr & The Medics opened with a rousing version of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day and their UK chart-topper Spirit In The Sky. The Lotus Eaters’ vocalist Peter Coyle was up next with a short set including The First Picture Of You, followed by Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow (I Want Candy and Wild In The Country) and Then Jerico’s Mark Smith (The Motive and Big Area). Mark commented, afterwards, what a big stage it was to cover but also how good it was to see all the fans having a great time.
There was little time for breath as Sonia took to the stage in a fetching Santa outfit to sing You To Me Are Everything and her Number 1 You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You. With her trademark smile she seemed to have a ball as did Toyah, in a sparkly Christmas dress, strutted around the stage singing It’s A Mystery and I Wanna Be Free.
The girls kept coming. Clare Grogan of Altered Images, took to the stage to sing I Could Be Happy before the first half closed with a short set from Boney M, (Daddy Cool, Brown Girl In The Ring and Rivers Of Babylon), still with original vocalist Maizie Williams.
After a short break hosts Dave Benson Phillips and Pat Sharp returned to introduce the headliners but not before telling everyone that Let’s Rock returns in 2020 with 14 shows around the country including Leeds in June.
Marc Almond opened the second half, apologising for having a cold, but still turned in a great performance opening with Tears Run Rings and Soft Cell’s Bedsitter. He dedicated Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart to the late, great Gene Pitney and followed that with his cover of Jacques Brel’s Jacky. Of course, no Marc Almond set is complete without Tainted Love, mixed here with Where Did Our Love Go and to close, another Soft Cell classic Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Before he did wave ‘goodbye’, there was also time for a chorus of We Wish You A Happy Christmas.
Jimmy Somerville began his set with The Communard’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and Someday We’ll Be Together and, slipping into disco-mode, made great use of the stage for Never Can Say Goodbye. Jimmy’s soulful falsetto sounds as good as ever and he gave a brilliant performance of Smalltown Boy, the song that gave him his first hit with Bronski Beat. Back into the disco groove, Jimmy sang Don’t Leave Me This Way before mixing it with rock for I Feel Love/Highway To Hell.
With guitar in hand Nik Kershaw opened with The Riddle and his first major chart success Wouldn’t It Be Good. Following his 80s solo career, Nik also found success writing for other artists, so it was good to hear him play The One And Only, the Number 1 he penned for Chip Hawkes. Kershaw’s set was all too brief, but full of quality and he closed with another huge hit I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me.
Finally, former Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley arrived on stage to serenade the fans with the festive favourite White Christmas. The audience had been on their feet, loving the show, for over three hours, so it was time for them to get in on the action, joining Tony with enthusiastic handclaps for a version of Queen’s Radio Ga Ga. There are few can equal Tony’s impeccable baritone voice and he sang Tonight Belongs To Us, a single form his latest album, which shows he still has a fantastic range and power. Tony added a trio of Spandau Ballet classics:Through The Barricades, which he described as his personal favourite, True and Gold, before rounding of a truly memorable evening with Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.
Let’s Rock returns in 2020 with a series of one day festivals around the country including Sunderland (6 June), Leeds (20 June) and Liverpool (25 July). Please visit letsrock80s.com for more information on line-ups and tickets.