Whether you like classics, country or rock, there’s a music festival to suit your tastes. Susie Kearley finds out more.
IF you ever fancy letting your hair down, dyeing it purple and reliving your youth, then you’ll fit right in at some of the lively music weekends across the UK where ageing party-goers enjoy a bit of nostalgia, listening to bands from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Music lovers of all ages gather at these events, designed to whisk you back in time, with original performers (looking a bit older these days), or tribute acts, sometimes covering bands who are no longer performing.
Welshpool has a Country Music Festival every July under a huge marquee in Powis Castle Showground (www.countrywestern.org.uk).
The weekend festivities begin with the Welshpool Westerners charging down the bank in traditional costume with fake guns blazing, to the tune of “The South Will Rise Again”.
Revellers can enjoy a free boat trip along the canal, and get tea and cake in Rosie’s tea tent.
My husband and I went to the annual Legends of Rock weekend in Great Yarmouth, which has tributes to Britain’s most popular rock bands.
Revellers are encouraged to don fancy dress, from glam rock to dodgy shirts, and enjoy 50 bands playing over four days and nights, with hits from Led
Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd, to name but a few.
The concert hall is nice – beautifully furnished with carpets, comfortable chairs and tables arranged around a parquet dance floor.
Despite colourful outfits, we felt positively underdressed! Dozens of ageing party-goers arrived in outrageous costumes, ready to party into the small hours.
A lively evening of high spirits ensued with dancing and three tribute bands, singing the songs of Sweet, David Bowie and T. Rex. It was a late night, but exhilarating.
The next day, we watched tributes to Whitesnake, Foreigner, Journey, Cream and the Who. Some were excellent, but as the Who guitarist smashed his guitar to smithereens, I was mortified. What a waste!
Vic explained it’s a Who tradition!
Then the sound system blew up, just as a tribute band to Journey were getting started.
It was a good time for a break, anyway, so we went to the charming café for a nice cup of tea and met fellow party-goers Debbie and her buddies from London, who’d come along to celebrate her recent recovery following successful surgery for a brain tumour.
Debbie was making the most of every moment. She’s since had the all-clear on further check-ups, and given birth to a beautiful baby!
We saw a tribute to Alice Cooper on the last day, complete with dramatic theatrics.
We danced with an rocker called John, complete with inflatable guitar, and met a gentleman dressed as Alice Cooper.
The afternoon brought a tribute to Roxy Music, a calm and relaxing experience. Gary Moore, Deep Purple and Rainbow took us to teatime.
The evening concluded with tributes to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Vic said he felt educated. He’d heard lots of bands
he’d never listened to before. I thought he was a little surprised by the eccentricity of the whole thing!
Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd were among the popular acts that day, and Vic, having enjoyed the tribute to Genesis immensely, sang “Land Of Confusion” all the way home.
One of the performers we watched that weekend was Oliver Whawell, who plays the saxophone and oboe for tribute band Roxy Musique.
“It’s an absolute privilege and honour to play in Roxy Musique,” he says. “The fans are devoted to the music, and we work incredibly hard to keep the dream alive.
“When we play at festivals we get to shine: the audiences hear us tear into songs that perhaps they’re less familiar with, and they really wake up. People realise that Roxy Music belongs up there with the greats.”
Oliver explains how the band works together.
“We listen to studio versions of Roxy Music songs, and every live version we can get our hands on.
“Then we pick our favourite versions, and each musician plays their own parts in their own preferred ways.
“Our version of ‘Mother Of Pearl’ is two-thirds studio arrangement, one-sixth 1974 Live and one-sixth 1979 Live!
“Our version of ‘Angel Eyes’ blends the original rock version from 1979 with a completely new disco version from the 1980 tour, as well as incorporating elements of the live shows.
“This keeps the music fresh and we get a lot of positive comments about this mixed-up style.
“The real challenge is when we perform songs live that Roxy Music have never performed live themselves.
“When we attend Roxy Music shows we are always hoping to hear new songs.
“We have played the role of a Roxy Music tribute act for a long time now, so we’re well rehearsed and feel that our live arrangements are close to how Roxy Music may have played these dream songs.
“Seeing the delight on faces in the audiences, and people singing along, is all the reward we need for our endeavours!” Oliver smiles.
Find out more by visiting www.classicrocktours.com/home.html.
Debbie celebrates her recovery with friends.
Head to Whitby if you’re a fan of country music!
American country music singer Trisha Yearwood.