Max Restaino, Fleur East, The Original Wailers, Level 42 and UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey Virtue performing at The Newark Festival Nottinghamshire on Saturday 16th June 2017.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

With the temperatures yesterday reaching 28 degrees, the beautiful setting for The Newark Festival offered no respite from the soaring sun. With rum punch available for a price, Newark could so easily have been the Caribbean, with a sold out crowd making the best use of their sunscreen and hats.

With security tight but not obtrusive, the Festival began with the very talented Max Restaino. Appearing on a no nonsense stage with his drummer and guitarist he had the unenviable task of waking up this crowd, but with his endearing nervous giggle and excellent musicianship, he did not have to work too hard. Showcasing songs from his debut album, The Time It Takes, new songs Give Me All Your Loving and Sally were very well received. Playing keyboards, saxophone and guitar, his voice carried really well and it was hard to believe that the delightful Life Is Real was written by him when he was just seven years old and that the funky Sugar Rush was only written a month ago. This incredibly talented artist kept the tempo going with covers of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and Maroon 5’s This Love, as he brought his set to a finish far too early. On this performance Max Restaino is definitely one to watch out for in the future.

After an inordinately long and unnecessary break during which the crowd were entertained by a DJ, they were rewarded when Fleur East burst onto the stage with her four energetic dancers; defying the heat and never keeping still. Wearing a red spangly dress, this runner up in 2014’s X Factor showed that not only can she dance but she also has a belting voice. Singing songs from her album, Love Sax And Flashbacks, she showcased new songs Gold Watch and More And More before the highlight of her set, Uptown Funk, the song which reached number one on iTunes during the competition, had everyone in this wilting crowd, dancing along.

The Original Wailers with Al Anderson, took to the stage with their immediately recognisable reggae beats and had the crowd dancing. I Shot The Sheriff and Stir It Up were the old familiars and Is This Love? preceded a glorious version of Get Up Stand Up before their set was brought to a close with golden oldies, Jammin‘ and Exodus which induced a mass sing along.

With no sign of the audience flagging from the late afternoon heat, Level 42 received a rapturous reception. With the sound of Mark King’s bass dominating proceedings they opened with Heaven In My Hands. Running In The Family saw dad dancing at its very best whilst The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) saw the Newark backup singers in the audience in fine form.

During a very energetic set, Mark King, with his thumb that moves so fast over those guitar strings it is almost a blur, did not hold back and neither did his band. Together with founder member Mike Lindup there was a Motown type line up dance routine involving them all before they finished with Lessons In Love, new song Build Myself A Rocket and final song, Hot Water.

Headlining this year’s Festival was UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey Virtue and anyone who is not familiar with their music must have been living on another planet. Their set list, whilst predictable is enjoyable none the less as the opening chords to Here I Am (Come And Take Me) had the crowd cheering. With Astro moving around the stage like a man half his age, Ali did seem to be a victim of the heat. All the old favourites were there; Homely Girl, Food For Thought, One In Ten and Cherry Oh Baby as well as a mass sing along to Can’t Help Falling In Love.

With the sun dipping down behind the trees, this year’s Newark Festival had surpassed itself. Next year will be the seventh annual Festival which is not only embraced by the residents of Newark, but is getting a reputation as a must go to event by Festival goers much further afield. But for this year, not only had there been an excellent line-up, a variety of food and refreshments, the organisers order for sunshine had also been well and truly delivered.