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WHY THOSE 80s BANDS ARE STILL THE KINGS OF MUSIC!
16/08/2017

By MARK ROACH

IT IS not just Reading, Glastonbury and other music festivals that attract huge crowds. 80s festivals have proved to be a huge hit with music fans in recent years. The Let's Rock the Moor festival in Cookham, near Maidenhead, on May 20 attracted thousands of 80s fans, despite the wet weather, with Rewind ('the big one' among the 80s music festivals in this area) set to bring 40,000 fans to Henley-on-Thames this weekend.

As someone who grew up listening to and loving 80s music (and DJing throughout the decade at venues like Smokey Joe's in Maidenhead), I’m getting excited about this year’s Rewind South festival in Henley.

I'm still buzzing from the Let's Rock the Moor festival in Cookham in May. Even though Flock of Seagulls couldn't make it because of a problem with their flight (strange but true), it was a fantastic spectacle, with performances from a host of 80s idols including Kid Creole and the Coconuts, The Jam (now known as the slightly less catchy 'From the Jam'), Sister Sledge, Howard Jones, Technotronik, Living in a Box, Kenny Thomas, Go West, The Beat, Matt Bianco, The Blockheads, Tiffany and headliners OMD.

One of the reasons for my excitement ahead of this year's Rewind festival – now in its ninth year – is the appearance of Level 42 on the bill and the chance to see them perform some of their classic tracks such as ‘Lessons in love’, ‘Something about you’ and ‘The sun goes down (Living it up)’.

Original band members Mark King (right) and Mike Lindup will be on stage at Temple Island Meadows on Saturday, along with Nathan King (guitar) and Sean Freeman (saxophone) – who have been on board since 2001 – and Pete Ray Biggin, Level 42’s drummer since 2010.

As a fan of the band back in their heyday, I’ve had the great privilege of interviewing Level 42’s main man before – and it’s still the music and the fans that keep him motivated.

Make no mistake though, Rewind and the growing number of other retro festivals like Let's Rock the Moor are not only for those of us who remember what living through the 80s was like. Nor is it just about seeing the artists who made it such a unique decade for music again.

For the 40 and 50 somethings, a key part of the popularity of Rewind is about being transported back in time and remembering all that was great about the 80s, how you felt back then and what made it such a special time.

It’s about so much more than the music. It’s a chance for the fans who are old enough to remember those heady days to enjoy the festival with long-standing friends and reminisce about the good old days, to soak up the atmosphere with new friends, to bring the family along, and for the new generation of 80s fans to revel in a piece of what made the decade so iconic.

Rewind is a festival for old and new 80s fans to embrace and enjoy – but Level 42’s lead singer and bass-playing legend reckons it’s even more significant than that.

“You bring along your kids who grew up listening to this music with you too, and everyone wants to have a good time,” he said.

“If you think about the vile things that have happened lately, this is one of the best ways we can stick two fingers up at the terrorists, by showing up at events like Rewind and having a great time – and showing them that they won’t break us.”

The bond and unity between artists and fans is something that remains very close to Mark’s heart. “Our fans mean everything to us. They’ve been there from the start, back when we were first trying to find our feet. We would put out a release in the early days and they would go out and buy it. They’ve been so important for us. They’ve been incredible – and they are the reason we are still touring.

“It’s not just about a band playing music. It’s also about the bond with the fans and the friendships that have developed between them, it’s very heartwarming.”

This year’s Rewind South festival will also see performances from Midge Ure, Gloria Gaynor, Status Quo, Village People, Kim Wilde, Big Country, Belinda Carlisle, Junior Marvin’s Wailers, Nik Kershaw, Nick Heyward, The South, Go West, Tom Robinson, The Christians, Sugar Hill Gang (featuring Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio's Furious 5), Sonia, Doctor & The Medics, Musical Youth, Imagination (featuring Leee John) and Thriller Live, with British Electric Foundation presenting a line-up including Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory, Kim Appleby, Glen Matlock, Jilted John, Rozalla and Owen Paul.

Level 42 will be making their third appearance at the now iconic Henley event. They first played at the festival’s second annual 80s showcase back in 2010, when it was still a Henley-only event. Then, after an appearance at the Scottish version of Rewind in 2013, they returned to Temple Island Meadows the following year.

The band’s frontman says he is a big fan of Rewind and everything it represents. “It’s a fantastic way to spend a weekend. In the last five or six years it has grown into a massive event. It’s such a good festival and the organisers do it so well.

“To be able to stand on the stage looking out at the crowd and seeing the effort they have put in with the different outfits and having a great time is a privilege. The line-up this year is fantastic. Every one of the bands at Rewind are different, and the fact that we can still do this now is an absolute blessing.”

There is a magic about 80s music that keeps drawing big crowds to Rewind year after year.

“People still miss Top of the Pops,” Mark added. “BBC4 still show Top of the Pops from the 80s and that is proof if any was needed of how popular 80s music still is.

“The 80s was such a broad church of music and there were so many stars of music to choose from. That’s one of the reasons why the music is still going strong today and why festivals like Let's Rock the Moor and Rewind are so popular.”

Mark remains eternally grateful to fans of Level 42 and 80s music in general, and says that support is responsible for driving the boom in the popularity of retro music festivals. “I get a buzz out of standing on stage, banging out the songs, and seeing the reaction from the crowd.

“We’ve been touring with UB40 and it’s brilliant that it’s not just Level 42 fans that we are playing to. The festivals are being so well supported and that’s a real bonus for me.”

Apart from playing at festivals like Rewind, what’s next for Mark King and Level 42?

“More of the same. We’ve been doing this for 37 years and there’s no reason for us to stop. We’re still here and trying to come up with new music. As long as there is still the appetite that’s great. We are proud of our fans. They’ve stuck with us.

“We are doing this almost on a weekly basis and it isn’t just about reminiscing. There is still a validity of being part of a band like Level 42. It’s what I love doing. It’s also about inspiring people and that’s one of the reasons we are still doing it.”

Mark has seen huge changes in the music industry and the way music is promoted, but his philosophy remains the same.

“The music business is almost unrecognisable now compared to the 80s, but it has been a gradual process of change. Social media has had such a big impact on everyone’s lives, it’s an incredible freedom. Donald Trump can have one too many and write some nonsense on Twitter for the whole world to see.

“But I’m the same guy who was so excited about going on Top of the Pops for the first time. Nothing has changed for me, I still get a buzz out of playing.

“I’m not the sort of character who is all about getting a message across. For me it’s all about making and playing good music with friends, and hoping that the fans like what we do.”

Level 42 play at the Rewind South 80s Music Festival at Temple Island Meadows in Henley this Saturday.

More at http://www.rewindfestival.com/

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YOUR CHANCE TO CATCH UP WITH TV PROGRAMMES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED - THE FULL SET
12/01/2010
BREAKING NEWS: LINKS TO THE TOP LOCAL SOURCES - AND READING USA
29/12/2012 WITH traditional newspapers under increasing pressure from "new media", both of the local newspapers, the Post and the Chronicle have made dramatic changes in recent years. The end of 2014 brought the "last Post" - after nearly 50 years, the old Evening Post adjusted to a twice-weekly, Wednesday and Friday offering, and now is only a website.
WHY THOSE 80s BANDS ARE STILL THE KINGS OF MUSIC!
16/08/2017

By MARK ROACH

IT IS not just Reading, Glastonbury and other music festivals that attract huge crowds. 80s festivals have proved to be a huge hit with music fans in recent years. The Let's Rock the Moor festival in Cookham, near Maidenhead, on May 20 attracted thousands of 80s fans, despite the wet weather, with Rewind ('the big one' among the 80s music festivals in this area) set to bring 40,000 fans to Henley-on-Thames this weekend.