Geth and I have been meaning to go to the Electric Dreams festival for a while, because we were always seeing it advertised on Vintage TV. (Incidentally, I found out why Vintage TV has disappeared from our channel list – it’s gone online-only for the moment!) Late November/early December is not usually a good time for us to go away, because of Geth’s work schedule, but he’s got a lighter workload this year, so we decided to go for it. My decision was also cemented by the fact that Marc Almond is playing – we missed out on getting tickets for the one-off Soft Cell reunion gig earlier this year, so this is a way of making up for it.
The journey from Newcastle to Bognor Regis was as straightforward as it can be when you (a) only realise last-minute that you don’t have seat reservations and (b) have to tube it through London in the middle of the journey because journeys to the south coast always require tubing it through London. I’d booked inclusive dining at the resort, so we were able to get some food and get settled in our room before getting ready to go out and see the bands.
Bands I didn’t see on day 1: The Blow Monkeys (we’ve already seen them supporting Level 42 this year so didn’t feel the need to see them again), China Crisis (I’d have quite liked to see them but I’m still suffering with my cold and didn’t want to waste too much energy running back and forth between venues), and Living In A Box (they kind of only have that one song that I would want to hear…and we wanted a fairly early night on the first day, ’cause we’re old now and can’t hack it).
Bands I did see on day 1:
Ex Simple Mind
The singular in the band name is not a mistake. There’s only one ex-member of Simple Minds in the band at the moment (Brian McGee). This doesn’t stop them doing nothing but Simple Minds classics, which I was a bit disappointed about, ’cause their current singer is Owen Paul and I would have liked to hear him do his ’80s hit My Favourite Waste Of Time (number three in 1986, fact fans).
The set was basically split into two halves – the ‘moody’ stuff, according to Owen, and the ‘hits’. The moody stuff included songs like Waterfront but sadly not my favourite Simple Minds song, Belfast Child, which would have fit in there perfectly. The hits were fairly predictable – Promised You A Miracle, (Don’t You) Forget About Me, Alive And Kicking – but played in a slightly bizarre order. Owen seemed to be suggesting (‘are you ready for the hits to get bigger?’) that Alive And Kicking was a bigger hit than (Don’t You) Forget About Me, which is…not accurate. They closed with Sanctify Yourself, which was also a bit of an odd choice.
I wasn’t hugely familiar with Modern Romance’s band history because, as Geth pointed out, they were a bit of an ‘early ’80s Top of the Pops background band’. I obviously recognised all their Latin-tinged party songs like Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey and Best Years Of Our Lives, but they’re not an act I’ve been following, so I was reliant on the festival programme to tell me that it’s just the singer, Andy Kyriacou, who remains from the classic lineup.
After doing their three or four hits, they kind of ran out of their own songs and started doing covers. When we left the Reds venue to go and get a space in the Centre Stage Venue for ABC, they’d just launched into Starship’s We Built This City, which, to be fair, was going down really well with the crowd.
ABC were the headliner for Friday and, naturally, the band I was most excited about. Geth and I did find some seats – as I’ve mentioned, we’re both suffering from colds at the moment – but I actually ended up on my feet a lot of the time, because I was enjoying the energetic, entertaining set so much. My highlights were When Smokey Sings (much beloved by me due to appearing on the hallowed tome that is Now! #10) and The Look Of Love (my favourite ABC song) – it was awesome to hear them both.
The only small fly in the ointment was that they played the same song (Poison Arrow) twice, which is an absolute no-no in my book – but to be fair, I think it was because they meant to finish with The Look Of Love and then the stage managers told them they had time for one more song, so they had to repeat something! The crowd adored it, anyway.