Music to my ears

Sometimes you just need a wee treat. Taking a break from my current memoir-writing immersion – I’m into the final furlong now, and have nearly completed the first draft of my 15,000 words submission, the last assignment of my Masters – I grabbed a music-loving pal and made my second visit to the Rewind 80’s festival at Scone palace, Perth.

The last time I managed to go, what with one thing (Covid) and another, was in 2019 with my beautiful friend Clare, and although she wasn’t very well at the time we had an absolute blast and I shall always remember dancing in the rain and mud to Bryan Ferry at the finale.

To my surprise, there was neither rain nor mud this time, although I had purchased new wellies specially for the occasion. Somehow, Chris and I found our perfect spot under the very same tree, and I felt sure Clare was somewhere watching through the branches as I raised her a can of strawberry cider.

Mostly, I enjoy the opportunity to wear the rock-chick, spiky ‘mullet’ wig I keep for such occasions, representing, as it does, the hair I always wanted but could never achieve. If only it weren’t so hot and itchy, I think I’d keep it on all the time. Chris had threatened to disown me if I wore it but obviously decided ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ and made a last-minute purchase of similar, to my delight and amusement. I don’t care what anyone says, I still think 80’s hair was the best!

Unable to find any suitable fashion, I plumped for more of a traditional 70’s look below the neck, but some people’s costumes were fabulous and hilarious. There were a couple of pink nylon shell-suits and I really wanted to ask the wearers if they thought they looked great, or deliberately terrible. I erred on the side of caution but was excited to meet Freddie Mercury – complete with fake teeth – and a good few Madonnas. Next time, perhaps I’ll make more effort, but the truth is, my admiration for 80’s fashion really does stop with the hair.

Live music is always wonderful and in a relaxed, outdoor setting on a sunny afternoon it can’t be beaten. To hear your all-time favourite songs performed by the original artists is something else entirely. Both Clare and I were bowled over by Hazel O’Connor performing ‘Will You’ in 2019 and this year, the highlight would have to be Midge Ure with the matchless ‘Vienna’. Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet singing ‘Through the Barricades’ also brought out the goosebumps and his voice is still so strong. Both songs are in my top twenty; how privileged I am to have experienced these, and many of my other favourite bands over the years. It’s always ‘that one song’ which I especially remember:

Sad Cafe, ‘Every Day Hurts’, Bradford, 1982

Elton John, ‘I’m Still Standing’, Leeds, 1985

Runrig, ‘Going Home’, Aultbea, 1987

Al Stewart, ‘Year of the Cat’, Amsterdam, 1999

Bryan Ferry, ‘Slave to Love’, Looe, 2016

Wishbone Ash, ‘Leaf and Stream’, Inverness, 2017

Dr. Feelgood, ‘Down at the Doctor’s’, Belladrum, 2018

Leo Sayer, ‘Orchard Road’, Rewind Perth 2019

ELO, ‘Living Thing’, ‘Telephone Line’, ‘Mr. Blue Sky’, Glasgow, 2019

Duran Duran, ‘Save a Prayer’, Inverness, 2022

Squeeze, ‘Cool for Cats’, Rewind Perth, 2023

This is certainly not to dismiss bands I’ve seen who were simply awesome, but with no particular favourite song: The showstopping Foreigner at Rewind 2019, along with the Stranglers, the Skids, Hipsway and Lisa Stansfield; Capercaillie in Ullapool; Skerryvore at the ‘Feis in the fank’ up at Stoer; the Peatbog Faeries and Wolfstone in Lochinver Village Hall, who nearly killed me by inflicting an inability to stop dancing; Eliza Carthy in Ullapool; Iron Maiden in Dublin, and as for Womad (Wiltshire) in 2011 – the most amazing festival experience ever, almost as good as travelling to all the countries the bands were from, and something I definitely want to repeat.

My only regret is that I didn’t get to see some of the iconic 70’s bands while they were still going and, of course, some are sadly no longer with us. I’d have loved to have seen the original Pink Floyd, the Bee Gees and the Moody Blues. In 2021, Chris and I had tickets to see Jethro Tull in Perth but one of the roadies got Covid and the show was cancelled, not rescheduled. Then there was the time Clare, Rose and I went all the way to London for Adele, only to have her cancel on the morning of the show, which was to be her last for many years. We spent a nice weekend drinking prosecco in parks but it wasn’t quite the same.

So, who’s next? Well, I confess, now, to having the Rewind bug, so I expect I will be going again next year. I have a real hankering to see a Gothic ‘symphonic metal’ or ‘doom metal’ band in Scandinavia. I’ve also never been to Scandinavia. So that, friends, will be a story for another day. First – back to the writing.