Let’s Rock the North East

I bought the tickets for Sarah as her Christmas present as she said she wanted to go! However over the past few days she has been saying that she’s not bothered about going and has been worried by some very negative stuff on the Facebook page about the event. There was a rumour going round that there weren’t enough toilets on the site with some people saying that there were only twelve toilets for the 15,000 people attending. Some people were paying £20 to get the posh toilet tickets, others were saying that they were upgrading to the £120 VIP tickets and some people were selling their tickets (or trying to). As far as I could see the figure of twelve toilets came from the map that the organisers had put up where obviously they hadn’t drawn all the toilets in!

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The other issue was that no one knew who was on when! The organisers said that the times would be published on the day and suggested that we download the app as they would be on there. In the end at about 10 o’clock they published a running order but still no times were given. The app never updated with the times like it said they would so we had no idea what time anyone was on! Then a picture appeared on Facebook of the lanyards which showed the times but blurred…

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So I was just trying to zoom in to see the times when someone who was already on site posted a picture of his…

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So at least now we knew. I told Sarah that one of the people she wanted to see – Brother Beyond was among five acts sharing the first 25 minutes so was unlikely to get more than one song! It was at this point that she mentioned that she wanted to see Five Star so I said well we better get going as they are on in one hour. So off we set – our plan had originally been to go via Aldi to get something to eat but I suggested that we just grab something in the Co-op and head straight for the site – so that’s what we did!

If I’m honest I was quite prepared to hate today! I’d been so wound up by what seemed like a commercial money making exercise but I was hoping I was wrong. It didn’t help that as soon as we got there we discovered that those lanyards with the times on were £5 each! £5 just to find out what time bands are on! Sod it I downloaded that photo before we left I’ll just use that! We got to the car park which was much emptier than we though so we were parked up in no time and walking to the site. There were security checks and as we went through we noticed a lot of Pringle cans had been confiscated. We weren’t sure if this was because of the can or if people had been trying to use them to smuggle alcohol onto the site! As we walked to the site we could hear Altered Images were on stage and singing Dead Pops Stars…seemed a bit harsh!

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Once inside we headed over to the other side of the crowd and found a space we could set up our three chairs. Almost as soon as we sat down Sarah was off to watch Five Star who had just come onto the stage. A few minutes later she said she was standing at the crash barrier by the sound tent and would I come and take some pictures!

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The next act was Nick Heyward who I last saw with Haircut 100 back in 1982 at Salford University! Sarah suggested we head back to where she’s been before but then we decided to go into the main enclosure and discovered that we could get quite near the front! She said she’d wished she’d known that for Five Star! Nick Heyward played for about 25 minutes and ran through a set which was something like

  1. Take That Situation
  2. Blue Hat for a Blue Day
  3. Fantastic Day
  4. Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
  5. Love Plus One

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I still think he looks like John Major’s younger brother!

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After he finished we realised that the continuous section of acts was over and there was a twenty five minute break before Heaven 17. Sarah and ben went off to have a look around and left me with the chairs eating my lunch. I’ve never seen Heaven 17 even though I bought their first single We don’t need that fascist groove thang when it first came out in the 80s. Although I liked some of their other stuff it was this song that has always done it for me and I really hoped that they would play it! They did! It was their first song! Sarah sent Ben back so I could go down the front which I did, took a couple of pictures and then went back to the chairs to meet her. When she came back she said it was ok for me to go back down on my own as she wanted to eat her lunch!

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Their set included a David Bowie cover before finishing off with their mega hit Temptation!

  1. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  2. Crushed By the Wheels of Industry
  3. Play to Win
  4. Come Live With Me
  5. Let Me Go
  6. Penthouse and Pavement
  7. Let’s Dance
  8. Temptation (including Donna Summer’s Love to love you baby)

By the time I got back the next act were already on – it was the one everyone had been taking the piss out of…Black Lace. All I can say is that they were exactly what you’d expect them to be! They played Superman, Agadoo and Do the Conga plus Delilah and I think Sweet Caroline! During this Sarah was off with Ben looking at a Fez he had seen on one of the stalls! I had to text two of his sisters as we knew he had asked one of them for a Fez for his birthday! Neither of them had got it for him so I was duly dispatched off to the stall to buy it for him!

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It all went a bit downhill after Black Lace, now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write! Nik Kershaw was ok – In the run up to him coming on I was trying to remember the names of some of his songs but couldn’t! Obviously once he was on I started to remember songs like Don Quixote, I won’t let the sun go down on me, Wouldn’t it be good etc but ironically the song I knew best was one he wrote but didn’t record I am the one and only! Also I didn’t recognise him – he didn’t look that old but he was grey and he just didn’t seem familiar!

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I don’t think Ben liked him because he went from…

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to

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…during his set! He was getting a bit bored by now but I wanted to stay to see Tony Hadley but there were three more bands on before then so in an attempt to keep him occupied I went to the kids area with him. He wanted to have a go on the stilts – he’d had a go earlier and one of the people running it had shown him how to do it! He now wanted to show me his new skill. Eventually he did get hold of a pair but while we were waiting I amused myself trying to juggle with clubs! I tried to learn many years ago but didn’t get anywhere but today I made a little progress!

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For part of the time we were at the kids area Midge Ure was on stage. He played a few old Ultravox (who I’d seen him with in 1981) songs like Vienna but again ironically the best song he played was one he’d written for Visage – Fade to Grey!

  1. f I Was
  2. Breathe
  3. Vienna
  4. Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
  5. The Voice
  6. Love’s Great Adventure
  7. All Stood Still
  8. Fade to Grey

Before Midge Ure Go West had played and again I would have been hard pushed to name any of their songs! They played the obvious ones like Don’t Look down, King of Wishful thinking and We close our eyes and also included a cover version of Sex on Fire. There were some odd cover versions during the day none more so than Altered Images doing Shake it off. I did wonder about some of the bands that given only 25 minutes to perform felt the need to include cover versions in their sets! I mean didn’t they have enough of their own songs to fill 25 minutes – best you don’t answer that!

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Next up was Kim Wilde – in my opinion the weakest act we saw all day. I went down the front briefly but my thought as I looked at the band was that a bunch of middle aged accountants had retired and instead of buying a Ferrari they’d bought leather jackets, guitars and formed a band! Kim herself was squeezed into pvc trousers and biker boots and as she prowled the stage another singer was also quite up front too. I thought it was all a bit strange until I found out she was her niece – which explained the slack she was given! Apart from the obvious Kids in America the rest of the set was a bit forgetful! At one point we thought she had finished really early because of the way she said thank you but they then carried on after a long pause! Odd!

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Ben was really bored by now and moaning about wanting to sit in the car. So Sarah said she would take him and a couple of the chairs back to the car and come back to meet me for Tony Hadley. Just after she went I decided to go down the front as it was a bit strange waiting where I was. So I packed up the bag and put it and the chair over my shoulder and found a spot near the front. While I was waiting this girl started to talk to me. She asked how old I was and when I said 56 she said “really that old! – I replied ‘thanks but yes” to which she responded “only joking I’m 55!

I enjoyed watching the stage crew set up the equipment with a fantastic efficiency – all the drums were on wheeled risers which sped things up marvellously – nothing worse than waiting for a drummer to set up or take down his kit!  They must have a multicore that plugs straight into the drum riser to speed things up too. After a while Tony Hadley hit the stage – he was early, it’s not often you get a festival that has to slow down to avoid under running! Just as he came on stage Sarah sent me a text to say she was on her way back. I replied telling her I was down the front and to let me know when she got back and I’d meet her!

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He started with To cut a long story short which is an old Spandau Ballet number. I used to like them in the early days which is why I wanted to see them – Sarah found this amusing! About four songs in I sent Sarah another text saying I would meet her next to the bar to save her going all the way round. Then before I got a reply I went to take a picture and my phone shut down! Tony Hadley was just introducing Through the Barricades with some spiel about Southern Comfort which lead him to describe himself as a Soft Southern Shandy Drinker! I made my way to the back of the arena near the sound desk and got out my battery pack to see if I could get my phone going long enough to get a reply from Sarah. Thankfully I did. I met up with her and we watched a bit more of his set before we decided to call it a day.

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I would like to have seen ABC at the end but I knew Ben was tired and there were more drunk people around. If I’d been on my own I’d have stayed but as I was with Sarah and Ben I had to take them into consideration. We walked back to the car listening to the rest of Tony Hadley who was now doing a Queen cover! We got off the car park in no time at all and the road we had to drive home on passed behind the stage and gave us a great view of the site!

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All in all despite my misgivings on the way there I really enjoyed it! Ok it’s not really my kind of music but it was fun, even Black Lace. Lots of people were dressed up in 80s style fashions which made us smile all day. there was very little trouble and the organisation and security were great – not bad for £30! We’re already talking about going again next year although I’m not wearing the mullet wig that Sarah suggested!

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There are other events on around the country all with different but similar line ups – for example the one in Leeds next week has Aswad and Adam Ant! The website is here

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