In a Retro Fever lineup with a 1970’s and 80’s theme including Heatwave, The Real Thing and Alvin Stardust, the fun atmosphere lit up the night sky at Swindon’s Old Town Gardens Summer Bowl Concert, writes Rhona Jack.
Umbrellas, wellies, wigs and fancy dress were optional because the unpredictable British weather meant our recent heatwave was over, given that the evening was punctuated with showers. However, the nearly 1000 strong crowd still had a fab time listening and singing to old favourites.
Heatwave put on a great show and had the crowd dancing and shouting for more. They closed their upbeat soul set to rapturous applause with “Boogie Nights” as the sun got lower in the sky. The age range of the audience was from about 17 to 75.
Having interviewed Alvin Stardust earlier, it struck me what a gentle man he was in private but what a giant on stage. He was already in a band when I was born – scary thought! – and played on the same bill as The Beatles – but despite advancing years he was a consummate professional as he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, joining in and singing chorus after chorus of his string of hits that punctuated every decade.
He has rave reviews from Chris Evans and a recent concert in Atlanta on his website, and I can see why.
He opened his Swindon set with Queen’s “One Vision/One True Religion” followed up with “2,4,6,8 Motorway” from The Tom Robinson Band. After “C’Mon Everybody”, “Jealous Mind”, “I love Rock n’Roll”, “My Coo Ca Choo” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode”.
There was a fantastic version of Nat King Cole’s “Shaking’ All Over” which he made totally his own. Glyn Davis on lead guitar gave us haunting slide guitar melodies with great feeling that sent shivers down the spine.
One of Alvin’s own favourite songs was “Mercy” and he just knocked out the numbers in true professional style. He qualifies this by saying “Every decade is your favourite if you’ve had a record in the charts!”
Alvin Stardust simply shines on stage – he hasn’t lost that old sparkle!
What struck me about The Real Thing’s set was the simplicity and emotional beauty of songs like “Can’t Get By Without You”. These were real love songs full of heartfelt feeling that evoke so many memories. The lyrics were so innocent and so much more romantic than hits these days that focus on the sex act only, instead of heartfelt genuine love.
The Real Thing even gave this old favourite a rap twist to put a newer spin on it, keep it fresh and get the younger audience more engaged. Add in a touch of achapella and it was a really great and entertaining evening enjoyed by all.
Thank you to the organisers for an uplifting evening and for putting on concerts with such variety.
Photos: Richard Wintle of Calyx