Back to the 80s without Doc’s DeLorean – the retro-fest that is Let’s Rock

THIS time last year I casually mentioned in passing that I would go in style to the 1980s retro-fest at Powderham Castle that is Let’s Rock.

I believe a lilac pastel suit and yellow espadrilles were the chosen items for that sartorially elegant eighties Miami Vice-look.

Sadly, 40-plus years were too much for the suit. Dozens of washing cycles at 40 degrees meant it had shrunk.

I mean, I certainly haven’t got any larger around the waist and chest. The look was more Don Revie than Don Johnson.

So, an outfit of Frankie Says Relax t-shirt, dayglo wrist and headbands and (very) tight short shorts it was, as I joined the similarly clad ’80s fanatics (including Gladys and friends from Hi-De-Hi and a few dazed and confused members of Sigue Sigue Sputnik) all of us attempting to remember the decade we all tried to forget as soon as we hit the ’90s.

Fortunately those memories were soon stirred into action from the music.

Now the eighties, for you twenty and thirty-somethings reading this, were a decade that presented a veritable supernova of musical styles. The tail-end of punk, the rise of new wave and the new romantics, the two-tone sound of ska, synth, soft rock (with its big hair) and hard rock (with its Lycra body suits) plus the start of rap.

And most of these genres were featured in the day-long nostalgia fest.

Tenpole Tudor frontman Ed Tudor-Pole proved he is still as manic as a proverbial box of frogs as he encouraged us to join his men with their 1,000 Swords and The Selecter, one of founding fathers of the UK ska movement, showed why they are still at the top of their game.

Ottawan, yes, they of D.I.S.C.O. and Hands Up fame had the enthusiastic crowd up and dancing and Belinda Carlisle showed that an ’80s musical heaven could be a place in Devon.

Now, there were a few names and faces that has some of us thinking: I know you but…?

This memory lapse was soon rectified once you heard the first few chords, so apologies to Red Box’s Simon Toulson-Clarke performing For America and Pete Wylie of Wah! for bringing back The Story of the Blues.

Fellow sorcerers-of-synth OMD and The Human League were the final acts of the day, with the latter aptly closing the proceedings by reminding that we’d all be together in electric dreams as they belted out the title track from with the seminal eighties flick Electric Dreams.

Now to mention how shall I put this delicately, the sanitary situation. I know it’s festival but fetid toilets and initial lack of water at an event like this is not good. There were complaints on the ground and there were numerous horror stories on social media later. It was clear that something had gone seriously amiss.

And when security tell you can’t go back to your car (to pick up wet wipes to clean hands that couldn’t be cleaned on site) and re-enter the site without paying, then someone on the organising side needs to do a serious re-think.

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