Let’s Rock – The Retro Winter Tour featuring, Tony Hadley, Nik Kershaw, Jimmy Somerville, Marc Almond, Boney M, Clare Grogan, Toyah Wilcox, Sonia, Mark Shaw of Then Jerico, Anabella of Bow Wow Wow, Peter Coyle of The Lotus Eaters and Dr & The Medics performing at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Friday 29th November 2019

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The Let’s Rock – The Retro Winter Tour stopped off at the Motorpoint Arena last night, and with a guest list comprising twelve artists, it promised to deliver a night of entertainment. And the crowd which included hen parties, early Christmas parties and those not ashamed to indulge in a bit of dad dancing, were determined to enjoy every moment of it.

To celebrate the best of the 80s, Pat Sharp and Dave Benson Phillips introduced each artist and propping up the list was British glam rock band, Dr & The Medics who set the bar high with a joyous Merry Christmas Everyone and their 1986 hit, a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky which produced the first sing along of the night.

Up next was Peter Coyle, who garnered 80’s success with The Lotus Eaters. Looking more like a school teacher than a 80’s rock star, he began his set with a cover of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over. Launching into ELO’s Mr Blue Sky, he was instantly forgiven for getting the words wrong especially when the crowd heard the first chords of his 1983 hit, The First Picture Of You which went down a storm.

The third artist to take the stage was Anabella from new wave band Bow Wow Wow. In a band that was formed by Sex Pistols Manager Malcolm McLaren, she was just thirteen when they released their first EP in 1980. Last night her two song set included Go Wild In The Country and I Want Candy, and as she dominated the stage, it was clear that the years have been kind to her.

Mark Shaw, lead singer with 80’s rock band, Then Jerico was up next, and he moved around the stage like a Duracell Bunny. Singing The Motive (Living Without You) he removed various items of clothing as he came to the front of the stage to engage with the fans, and by the time he sang the 1988 hit, Big Area, the crowd were on their feet in appreciation.

Following him was Sonia, an English singer who represented the UK in the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing second with Better The Devil You Know. Dressed as a female Santa Claus, she didn’t treat the fans to that song, but she did deliver a very upbeat You To Me Are Everything, before finishing with her number one hit, You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You, which saw the saxophonist excel as the notes soared around the Arena.

With the show going along at a breakneck speed, it was time for a set from Toyah Wilcox. Dressed in a sparkly pink dress she immediately owned the stage as she delivered It’s A Mystery and a song that she wrote when she was just fourteen, I Want To Be Free. With a set that was far too short, Toyah is an artist that continues to deliver and last night was no exception.

Scottish band Altered Images were voted Best New Group at the NME Awards in 1981 as well as earning themselves the Most Promising New Act in the Smash Hits Readers Poll in the same year. So when lead singer, Clare Grogan was added to the line up, she certainly brought something to the show. Coming on she began singing Don’t Talk To Me About Love, but the tremendously talented backing band had other ideas and began playing Happy Birthday. Getting back on track, the crowd were happy to have heard snippets of both songs before she skipped around the stage to her hit, I Could Be Happy.

Finishing the first half of this trip down memory lane was Boney M featuring Maizie Williams, who with their energetic set, were surprisingly good on the likes of Daddy Cool, Brown Girl In The Ring and their sing along cover of The Melodians, River Of Babylon. With the crowd singing every word right back at them, they had everyone on their feet and were undoubtedly the best group of the first half.

To open the second half was Marc Almond, who began his career in snyth pop and new wave duo Soft Cell. Accompanied by two backing singers there was no sign of his admitted bad cold as he opened with Tears Run Rings. Following up with Soft Cell’s Bedsitter and his 1989 hit with Gene Pitney, Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, Almond had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

A cover of Jacqes Brel’s Jacky went down a treat before everyone was on their feet for Tainted Love and set closer Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Before leaving the stage, Almond and his singers reminded the crowd that Christmas was looming as they came to the front of the stage for a delightful a acapella version of We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

An undoubted highlight of the whole show was Jimmy Somerville who was up next accompanied by three violinists and a fabulous brass section. Opening with You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and with his falsetto voice, he never missed a beat and had everyone on their feet where they remained for his complete set. A rare outing for So Cold The Night was a real treat before Never Can Say Goodbye was mashed up with You Spin Me Round (Like A Record).

Smalltown Boy, from Bronski Beat’s 1984 debut album The Age Of Consent, is still worthy of a listen and had the crowd enraptured, and Don’t Leave Me This Way upped the tempo again. Finishing his set with a mash up of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Highway To Hell, it was Jimmy Somerville doing AC/DC; what more can you ask for.

The task of following Somerville’s fast and electric set was left to Nik Kershaw who did a sterling job even though he had to cut his set short. With his guitar in hand he opened with The Riddle followed by Wouldn’t It Be Good. He was expected to sing The One And Only, a song that he wrote for Chesney Hawkes and he did not disappoint before he finished with the beautiful I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

With the curfew rapidly approaching it was left to Tony Hadley to top what had been a night of nostalgic music. Starting with a snippet of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas which morphed into Queen’s Radio Ga Ga, Hadley is always good value for money. Through The Barricades started the sing along which was carried through to Hadley staples, True and Gold. Finishing his short set with Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, he brought to an end an evening of music and entertainment that saw even the most arduous lover of 80s music, tired from dancing and hoarse from singing but getting ready to do it all again next year.