Adam Ant at Rewind Scotland 2016

Review: Rewind Scotland, Scone Palace, 22-24 July 2016

It’s Friday night. I’m in the grounds of Scone Palace, and a fifty-something man in a Choose Life T-shirt has just come up to me offering the largest hipflask I’ve ever seen, full of ‘homemade’ whisky. In the distance, Pat Sharp’s dulcet tones drift from the bar tent, as he DJs a top-notch set of 80s classics. It can only be Rewind, and this is my first foray into the retro extravaganza.

First things first: other than a few children, I was basically the youngest person there, apart from a small group of teenagers ‘ironically’ enjoying Leo Sayer. This would explain the reduced Twitter commentary on the event, and the fact that the existing content was along the lines of ‘water tablets and Warfarin packed, let’s hit the festival!’. Still, old as the target audience were, it was hands down the friendliest festival I’ve been to, from the fancy dress Honey Monsters and Ming the Merciless to the people waving inflatable zimmer frames.

Annabella Lwin

Annabella Lwin

What about the acts, though? It was a markedly mixed bag: the obvious top-dollar ones like Marc Almond and Adam Ant, rubbing shoulders with slightly more leftfield acts like China Crisis, and, er, Living in a Box, the sort of act where they announce ‘and now for one of our other hits’ and the crowd suddenly decide to go to the bar. I found myself enjoying the smaller acts more, though – there was less promoting new material and more rattling off the hits. I mean, I like Rick Astley and ABC’s new albums, but I don’t really want to hear it at an 80s festival. Bow Wow Wow’s Annabella Lwin, by contrast, whirled onto the stage and dazzled us with a short set of their best hits, and looked like she was having great fun with it all. Likewise, Slim Jim Phantom from The Stray Cats – a band I’m prone to mocking on the live-tweetathon of TOTP episodes – played a blinding set of the band’s hits and 50s covers, so I stand suitably corrected on my scepticism.

British Electric Foundation

British Electric Foundation and a cast of thousands

Speaking of covers, they seemed to be mandatory for almost every act. Standouts had to be The Beat’s excellent Rock The Casbah, Toyah’s buoyant Echo Beach and a marvellous collection of musicians organised by the British Electric Foundation – everyone from Thomas Dolby to Peter Hooton from The Farm – singing Wonderful Life as a tribute to Black. A special mention must go to Go West too, bravely tackling Sex On Fire and receiving a mixture of wild singing along and bemused looks from the older festival-goers. Oh, and if Rick Astley doesn’t release his cover of We Found Love, then he may as well retire early.

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The main acts, surprisingly, weren’t as consistently good as I’d have liked. Tony Hadley was so-so (and possibly not sober), but it was Adam Ant, closing the festival, who let me down the most. He played more obscure/modern songs than classics, managed to drop his mic halfway through Stand and Deliver, said almost nothing to the crowd, and left the stage early with no fanfare, to disappointed grumblings from fans. Compared to Holly Johnson’s barnstorming set, Midge Ure belting out an upsettingly large amount of hits to a rapt audience, or the absolutely flawless hour from ABC’s Martin Fry, it felt like perhaps some 80s stars haven’t quite recreated their glory days so well.

So, would I go back to Rewind? Definitely, if only for hearing Snap! covering Oops Upside Your Head. That’s got to be a golden tale to tell the grandkids.