10 Sep 2014

Back To The 1980's: Reload Festival Review

When my dear ol' mum told me that Human League were playing in Norwich, my reaction was one not to be forgotten. Having been brought up on a mix of Morrissey, Human League and Duran Duran, alongside many other amazing bands, (of who I am grateful to have learnt about from a young age, thank you mum and dad) It was certainly a gig I wanted to attend. When I further learnt it was a festival containing the likes of ABC, Go West, Heaven 17 and Sister Sledge, it was a need. As I also managed to cop the opportunity to photograph there, I was very very excited. 

The first day lineup had the most acts we wanted to see, including the very first act, From The Jam which features original Jam bass player, Bruce Foxton. As this was the closest I would ever come to seeing The Jam live, I was thrilled when this legend took to the stage alongside his fellow band members, who might I add, play The Jam songs perfectly considering they are not the original members. From The Jam played a setlist stacked full of hits, including Down In The Tube Station At Midnight, Going Underground and Eton Rifles. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend to anyone to go and see them live.

Next up who we saw (and were interested in) came Go West. One of my Mum's absolute favourite bands from the 80's, and the owners of some of my favourite feel-good songs, safe to say we were both pretty excited. They took to the stage with a different kind of energy that the previous bands had brought, and Peter Cox has certainly still got it. Go West played so well, and the hits were all there. We had a sing-a-long to my favourite King Of Wishful Thinking and of course, We Close Our Eyes. Not only did the audience get fully involved, but Cox and the rest of Go West continually showed appreciation for the huge crowd they drew. Definitely one of the most feel good and musically exceptional sets I have ever seen at a festival, and would 10/10 go see them again. If you don't know who Go West are, find out.

Following Go West came the legends that are, ABC. With what I would percieve as an 80's anthem under their belt (The Look of Love) it was in no doubt that they would have one of the largest audiences of the whole weekend. It's difficult to put into words what an experience this set was because the wall of noise created by the synths, combined with everything funky just worked so well together. There was dancing, singing, crowd involvement and all in all it was a great time. Watching that many people get to relive their prime time by skanking to Look of Love in a neon tutu and legwarmers was heartwarming, if not slightly (very) embarrassing for all around. Absolutely wonderful, loved every minute. That marked the end of our Saturday because not only was Rick Astley on a lot later than originally stated, meaning we would have to sit through Soul II Soul (not the biggest fans) but the overplaying of Madonna and 'that sort of 80's shite' was getting a little too much. So we headed home and prepared for Sunday.

We arrived on the Sunday just as Heaven 17 finished which was a disappointment, but of course that meant we had to sit through Jason Donovan. Although incredibly self indulgent, he put on a wondrous show which included his song from Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat. Safe to say, I shan't go into that one in detail. 

Next came the ever so funky Sister Sledge. Harbouring a string of dance hits, Sister Sledge promised to be a whole lot of fun. I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. They've all aged very very well and are still as talented and energetic as they used to be. Final song We Are Family ensured that every single person at the festival sang a long, because who doesn't know that banger? All in all, it was just bloody good fun and I loved every second. 

Following Sister Sledge came Billy Ocean of who I wasn't fussed about seeing. However, he was absolutely incredibly. His voice has actually improved over time, like a fine wine. He sang the hits like he always did, and they were flawless. Amazingly fun and energetic for a man of his age, and the perfect pre-headline act for the band I had been waiting for all weekend. THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

Human League took to the ever-so-techno stage with Susan and Joanne donning wonderfully classy, yet 80's outfits of a mini dress and a jumpsuit. Phil Oakley then took to the stage in all black, with a leather coat on top and I don't think I have ever seen anyone look so cool. The set was phenomenal. Not only did it contain all the hits (including a slight remix of the anthem Don't You Want Me) but the final song was my favourite Human League song ever released, their first single, Being Boiled. If you don't know this song, think Kraftwerk meets Visage with a very Human League-y spin on it. It's the funkiest techno song ever made and I couldn't have been happier that they played it. Mum & I successfully opened up a skank pit (coolest mum ever) and danced alongside a ton of other crowd members while taking in the whole experience. It was one of the best festival sets from this year that I have seen, and I am so glad I went. Human League, PLEASE TOUR.

(apologies for the atrocious quality, took this on my phone rather than camera)

Overall, Reload was such a wonderful weekend and I cherish the oppurtunity I had to see all those bands live. Especially Human League. They ruled. 

(written by Poppy Marriott)