It’s taken me nearly a week to get round to doing this review due to all my internet issues earlier in the week. Better late than never!
South Tyneside Council puts on a lot of free gigs in Bents Park in South Shields during the summer, but Geth and I hadn’t been to one for three years. The last one we went to was the Proclaimers and Lindisfarne in 2016, on a much more changeable day that required both suncream and a brolly!
However, it was a no-brainer when we heard about this one – Midge Ure was fantastic when we saw him in November supporting the Human League, and neither of us had seen Nick Heyward before – so I bought early-access tickets (well worth it at six quid each, as it means you’ve actually got the chance to set your deckchair up fairly close to the stage) and we headed out to South Shields for the day with my beloved vintage deckchairs in tow.
The support act were a local ’80s tribute band called The Breakfast Club. They played a lot of the most well-known pop hits of the decade, which went down very well with the dreaded ‘I’m wearing an ’80s costume’ crowd (those people are an absolute scourge – I see them at every gig now!). It got a good atmosphere going, and I might go see them again if they come across to Newcastle and I fancy a cheesy ’80s night out.
Their setlist included two Duran Duran tracks, and I’m still not sure whether to be pleased as a Duranie or annoyed as a setlist purist who was always taught when learning to DJ that you should never repeat artists within a set!
We hadn’t been organised enough to bring lunch, so we scraped enough change together for a couple of portions of chips from one of the food stalls. I need to remember to take some snacks with us next time we go to one of these things.
Nick Heyward was on next, performing a very well-balanced set of two big hits (‘Love Plus One’ and ‘Take That Situation’), followed by a bunch of stuff you’d have to be a fan of his to know, followed by another two big hits at the end (‘Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’ and ‘Fantastic Day’). I really enjoyed this set, largely because the people in front of us weren’t standing up to dance during the middle bit so I could actually see! I’m not familiar with his catalogue other than the ’80s hits, but they were all very nice tunes and I’ll have to look into them some more.
Midge Ure finished the day with his usual hit-laden set – highlights for me included ‘Vienna’, ‘Fade To Grey’, ‘If I Was’, and an epic crowd singalong to ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’. It was a slightly rockier performance than when he was playing with Electronica in November (Geth dubbed it ‘if Ultravox had been prog’), but I enjoyed it just as much.
Already hoping that there’ll be some exciting choices of artists for next year’s Bents Park gigs – it’s always a good day out when the weather holds!
Day 4, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 26th November 1984 (just one day after the recording of the original Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid, fact fans).
I wonder what the Now! compilers have in store for me today?
Track 1: Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights [Special Dance Mix]
I couldn’t find the dance mix, so I’m reviewing the original. Nice tune, but a bit slow for my liking.
Track 2: Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams
Another one of Geth’s DJing favourites. Great synthpop, love this one. That chorus!
Track 3: Bronski Beat – Why?
Great dance track, really like this one, especially the trumpet instrumentals.
Track 4: Limahl – Neverending Story
Hey, it’s Limahl’s one good solo song that I was talking about the other day! (Well, I say solo – it’s actually a duet with Beth Anderson, but she never gets credited.) Love the ethereal vocals, great tune.
Track 5: Nick Heyward – Warning Sign
I like the guitar instrumentals. Most of the song is a bit pedestrian, but it does step up towards the end. Also, is that a rap at about two-thirds of the way in? You almost never hear that in pop of this era. Interesting.
Track 6: John Waite – Missing You
A favourite. Nice intensity on the chorus, great guitar line.
Track 7: Michael Jackson – Farewell My Summer Love
Bit saccharine for my liking. I prefer Michael Jackson’s stuff when it has a bit of edge.
Track 8: Lionel Richie – Hello
I think most people know this one for the so-bad-it’s-hilarious video, which features Geth’s least favourite trope, that of the icky student-professor relationship. The song is extremely cheesy, but is also in the realm of so-bad-it’s-good for me, and I actually quite like it in a serious way when I’m in the right mood.
True fact: one time in Southampton, a couple of random guys serenaded me on the street with this song. I could not stop laughing, which I’m not sure was the desired effect.
Track 9: Culture Club – The War Song
Argh, it’s another example from the ‘annoying’ end of Culture Club’s back catalogue! I do like some of their stuff…I just can’t think of any examples at the moment.
I forgot to mention during the Karma Chameleon review the other day that that song gets bonus points for inspiring the Lothian Buses ‘Karma Chameleon’ no. 26 bus, which was one of my favourite stories of 2017. It goes to Edinburgh Zoo, is painted in red, gold and green, and says ‘we come and go’ on the back! I am in love. I never go to zoos ’cause I always think the animals look sad, but I gotta get myself on that bus sometime when I’m in Edinburgh.
Um, back to The War Song. ‘War is stupid, and people are stupid‘, and in all honesty I find these lyrics irritatingly stupid too. Sorry.
Track 10: Elton John – Passengers
I quite like this bouncy song when I’m in the right mood, especially the chanting on the chorus.
Track 11: Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes
Nice upbeat track, though it’s more of a ‘background’ one for me.
Track 12: The Style Council – Shout To The Top!
I’m not usually that keen on the Style Council, but this one’s actually all right – I like the strings on the intro and the slightly urgent atmosphere.
Track 13: Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!
I just remembered I really like this one (great synth line!), so maybe I was a bit hasty in writing off the Thompson Twins during yesterday’s review. Another one that was used well in The Doctor Who Years, which was kind of an obvious choice if you think about it.
Track 14: Heaven 17 – Sunset Now
Typically nice pop from Heaven 17, though I prefer their more synth-y stuff.
Track 15: Kane Gang – Respect Yourself
I’m a big fan of this one, largely because the video was filmed in central Newcastle, and as I only moved to Newcastle in 2015 (and had never been here in my life until Geth and I came to househunt a month before we were due to move), I find it fascinating to see what the Quayside looked like in the mid-’80s before it was de-industrialised and gentrified. Quite like the song too.
Track 16: Tina Turner – Private Dancer
I can’t put my finger on why, but I’ve never really liked this one, even though it does have a couple of nice sax solos.
Track 17: Queen – It’s A Hard Life
Not my favourite Queen song, but I can’t say they ever did a bad song – it’s still a good chair-swayer.
Track 18: Status Quo – The Wanderer
I quite like the jauntiness of this one. It might even make my list of ‘songs I’d dance to at a wedding reception’ – if I’d had a lot of cider.
Track 19: Big Country – East Of Eden
Probably one of the best Big Country songs in my opinion. Great tune and atmosphere.
Track 20: U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Most of the song is a bit dull, but I do quite like the chorus.
Track 21: Feargal Sharkey – Listen To Your Father
Not only is this song not on Spotify, but there’s no tribute version either, so I couldn’t be lazy this time – I had to pause the playlist and hit up YouTube. So inconvenient.
As for the song, I quite like this one – nice uptempo track and instrumentals, even if the lyrics are a little irritating.
Track 22: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Tesla Girls
Awesome uptempo synthpop. OMD delivering the goods as usual.
Track 23: Kim Wilde – The Second Time
Great piece of pop! It’s everything I love about the ’80s – great bassline and instrumentals, epic atmosphere, strong lyrics. It’s begging to be played on vinyl on my dad’s old sound system, rather than digitally through my tinny laptop earphones.
Incidentally, I’m going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage Gateshead tomorrow! I’M SO EXCITED. Watch out for my review of the gig on Tuesday.
Track 24: Nik Kershaw – Human Racing
A bit slow and dull for me, and there’s something I’m not keen on in the tune. Nice lyrics though.
Track 25: Ray Parker Jr – Ghostbusters
How can you not love this one? The ultimate party song.
I also have many happy memories of playing it on Lego Rock Band. Now that I live in a detached house, I have got to break out those Rock Band drums again. It’s just a case of finding the time!
Track 26: UB40 – If It Happens Again
Another good chair-swayer, but again this one’s a bit more ‘background’ for me.
Track 27: Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)
It’s an okay party song, but I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about this one.
Track 28: Level 42 – Hot Water
Good danceable song, great instrumentals.
Track 29: Eurythmics – Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
I really like Eurythmics, and this one’s a great dance song with chantable lyrics. It vastly improves what has been a relatively poor second disc so far.
Track 30: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me
I LOVE this song. Great sing-along track, great for Hallowe’en playlists, great for parties. Awesome video too.
Track 31: Malcolm McLaren – Madam Butterfly
Quite a nice chillout track until the spoken word kicks in. Is there an instrumental version of this?
Track 32: Eugene Wilde – Gotta Get You Home Tonight
Fairly typical ’80s soul. Nice tune, if a bit slow.