Billy Ocean at Let's Rock Scotland

Let’s Rock Scotland: Dalkeith Country Park, 23 June 2018

Since Rewind is brilliant, I couldn’t resist giving another retro festival a go, especially with such a stellar lineup as Let’s Rock. Joining me in this new adventure was regular festival buddy Sarah, long-suffering husband Pete, and new gig pal and diehard Midge Ure fan Feorag.

We arrived in time for the opening ‘Retrobates’ section, featuring Brother Beyond, Annabella Lwin, Hazell Dean, Fuzzbox and Peter Coyle from The Lotus Eaters. Nathan Moore, the single remaining Brother, went down very well. So well, in fact, that he ended up the proud owner of a spacious, sensible, white bra which was chucked onstage. Fuzzbox and Annabella were good at pepping the crowd up for Hazell, who frankly was the only person in the opening line-up I was really excited about. And lo, Dalkeith Country Park became the glitteriest, campest disco for ten blessed minutes.

Clare Grogan at Let's Rock ScotlandWhat better way to follow this feast of fun than Modern Romance? Sarah noted that they didn’t perform their biggest hit, ‘Best Salsas Of Our Moosey’, but they seemed to be a hit with the crowds anyway. Katrina of And The Waves fame was in fine fettle, especially when she brought out Going Down To Liverpool. An effervescent Clare Grogan made the dads go misty-eyed, even during her cover of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off that prompted very mixed responses. (I liked it. Fight me.)

Speaking of splitting the audience, Black Lace’s ‘Conga Party’ was in full swing when our party returned from the toilets. Suffering the harrowing experience of several childhood Butlins holidays at once was hard to bear, especially seeing Pete caught up in a conga line against his will and having to run through a gap of over-cidered ladies to safety.

Heaven 17 at Let's Rock ScotlandNick Heyward saved the day with a solid set of classics, and Heaven 17 followed him up nicely with an ever-twinkly Glenn Gregory and an uncharacteristically cheery Martyn Ware (“Should we be worried? Is he OK?” – Sarah). Starting with (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang was peak topical 2018, we thought. We retreated to the overpriced food during Nik Kershaw‘s set, safe in the knowledge that he was on top form from seeing him at the Playhouse.

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The highlight of the past few gigs for me has been Go West, and Let’s Rock was no exception. Still, Peter Cox’s rendition of Hungry Like The Wolf didn’t go down well with Feorag, who declared ‘hell is being in a field while Go West cover Duran Duran’. Ouch. The Sex On Fire cover was, as always, most enjoyable, and frankly still better than the original. I’d buy the single if Peter released it tomorrow.

Midge Ure, likewise, was always going to be tremendous. All killer, no filler, superb guitar solos, and a single Saltire fluttering above the crowd as he launched into an impromptu rendition of Flower Of Scotland. Tony Ballet – sorry, Hadley – followed with a so-so set, including the dreaded new material which, in our party’s opinion, was Proper Brexit. Tonight Belongs To Us is surely destined to be the next Tory conference soundtrack.

Martin Fry’s distinctly gold-lamé-less sartorial choice for the evening disappointed Feorag, but the addition of the superb London String Group lent some extra class to proceedings. ABC, like Tony, ventured into new material, but Lexicon Of Love II is far more bearable, albeit lacking the Trevor Horn sparkle.

Last year’s Rewind proved Billy Ocean has very much still got it. The Hebburn branch of the fan club had travelled up for the occasion with their huge flag, and it was very clear that the Ocean love was strong. Not a duff song was heard, and what a classy way to end a festival that’s fast heading into my calendar for 2019. Get your ticket-buying fingers ready for 31 August – this is well worth venturing into the wilds of Midlothian for.