Over 8000 people packed out the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Saturday night to take a step back to the 80s and relive a time when MTV was new, and actually showed music videos.
The show got off with a bang, starting with the very excellent Cutting Crew, who performed three songs, including ‘One For The Mockingbird’ and ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’, the latter of which had everyone singing along.
Their very evident glee should be enough for anyone who asks why artists who had huge fame years ago, but still continue to tour these days: they do it for the enjoyment.
Nick Van Eede started the band back in 1985 with Canadian Kevin Macmichael, is the only remaining original member, but his very evident cameraderie with lead guitarist Gareth Moulton, who joined the group in 2005, kept the audience going and wanting for more.
Paul Young took the stage and delivered a powerful performance, showing what a true rock star he is. The voice is still husky and strong, and all of us who loved him in the 80s were swooning once again, as he sang three of his hits from the 80s, ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’, ‘Everytime You Go Away’, and ‘Come Back And Stay’.
It must have been a difficult decision to put Paul on as second act, but it’s testament to how spectacular the lineup was.
Having seen Paul perform last year with his Tex Mex band, Los Pacaminos, it was quite a lovely treat to hear him perform his classics, and got me in the mood to go see him next time he performs a full concert.
Third act on the bill was T’Pau, with lead singer Carol Decker. They peformed four songs, and concluded with ‘China In Your Hand’, which was released as a single 30 years ago almost to the day, and spent five weeks in the number 1 spot in the UK. Carol’s energy and enthusiasm for her performance was infectious, as was her banter with the audience, leaving everyone smiling. Their most recent album, ‘Pleasure & Pain’, was released in 2015, and charted in the UK top 100.
Back when this writer was a 15 year old in Australia, Nik Kershaw dominated the airwaves, with songs such as ‘I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’, and ‘The Riddle’, played on high rotation on both radio and TV – his video for ‘The Riddle’, with its “Wonderland-esque” theme, was especially memorable, as were the lyrics.
It’s these three songs – along with ‘The One And Only’, which he wrote for Chesney Hawkes, that Kershaw has said made him millions, and for good reason. Elton John described him as the best song writer of his generation, and having now heard them performed live, I agree, and it’s only now that I realise how politically charged his songs are.
In addition to his three most famous tracks, Nik opened with ‘Wide Boy’, which was a minor hit for him around the world in 1985. His 2012 album, ‘EI8HT’ shows he’s still a lyrical genius, if woefully under-appreciated.
Go West formed in 1982 and are still going strong, with new music including their album ‘3D’, which was released as 3 EPs between 2010 and 2013.
Like Nik Kershaw however, they were everywhere in the 80s, and they performed four of their best known tracks, ‘Don’t Look Down’, ‘Call Me’, ‘We Close Our Eyes’, and ‘The King Of Wishful Thinking’, which featured on the soundtrack to ‘Pretty Woman’ in 1990.
Additionally they sang a cover of Kings Of Leon song, ‘Sex On Fire’, with Peter Cox’s voice every bit as powerful as it was back in their 80s peak.
Jason Donovan opened his set with ‘Any Dream Will Do’: technically not a hit of his from the 80s, but rather from when he was a fixture on the West End stage as the lead in ‘Joseph And The Amazing Techniocolor Dreamcoat’. The audience loved it however, singing along word for word.
This was followed up with ‘Every Day (I Love You More)’, ‘Especially For You’, his hit duet with Kylie Minogue, whose part was sung by a woman whose name we didn’t catch but had a gorgeous voice; and finished up with ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’. It was certainly a treat for this Australian to see Jason peform live on stage.
After a twenty minute interval, Kim Wilde came on, and was obviously having an absolute ball. Singing 6 songs, including her hits ‘Cambodia’, ‘You Came’ (dedicated to the audience), ‘Keep Me Hanging On’, and an excellent cover of Dead Or Alive’s ‘Spin Me Round’, she finished up with a rousing rendition of her smash, ‘Kids In America’. Thanking her band, she then turned to the crowd and told us to “take care my darling ones, I ain’t going nowhere, I’ll see you later on.” Ms Wilde’s connection with the audience was brilliant, she clearly enjoys what she does, and her stage presence was extraordinary.
Headliner Tony Hadley had a 40 minute set, and could easily have sung for much longer. He apologised for not being able to talk too much, but he wanted to get through as many songs as possible, and so supported by the Tony Hadley Band, he wowed the audience with a large selection, mostly from the Spandau Ballet back catalogue. Songs such as ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’, ‘Only When You Leave’, and ‘Through The Barricades’, took us down memory lane and reminded us of how rich Tony’s voice is.
Hadley then broke off and talked of his good friend the late great Freddie Mercury, who had given the then young singer some great advice. He launched into an extraordinary cover of Queen’s ‘Somebody To Love’ which had the 8000 strong audience singing along, and this writer wondering why Queen they never asked Hadley to sing with them. Finishing up with Spandau classics, ‘True’, and then finally, ‘Gold’, the occupants of the Ricoh Arena left singing and laughing after having a truly incredible night.
Paul Young, Go West, and Cutting Crew join Wang Chung and Taylor Dane on a tour of Australia and New Zealand from 2nd November on the 80s Mania Tour. See here for further information.
Paul Young, Tony Hadley, Kim Wilde, Go West, Cutting Crew, and T’Pau will join ABC and Belinda Carlisle on the Back To The 80s Cruise in on 6-13 May 2018. The cruise leaves from Southampton and visits the cities of Bilbao, Vigo, and Lisbon. You can find out more information about the cruise here.