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Let’s Rock Christmas 2017: The Big 80s Christmas Party

December 20, 2017

It’s been a long time, longer than I care to think about, since I went to a full pop concert. Time aside, I’ve simply seen most of the artists I’ve ever wanted to see – and just can’t be bothered with the hassle of trying to get a decent ticket any more. I do have a policy that if I have to watch a show on screens, there’s no point… still…

Back in July, following the events in Manchester, I stated on theatreboard.co.uk that I would deliberately perform a “one finger salute to ISIS” and find a big event to attend, just to prove that cowards never, ever, win.

If anyone wants some good to come out of the evil, well, this is a tiny bit. “Let’s Rock Christmas 2017” at Wembley Arena turned out to be a brilliant choice. Also, probably the best-value gig I’ve been to in ages.
The whole thing lasted 4 hours in all – 3 hours 15 minutes of live performances, plus 30 minute of pre-show and 15 minutes of “set up” interludes with Pat “Fun House” Sharp (sadly minus the two Mel’s – readers of a certain age will know) on the mixing decks. No actual interval at all.

Rather like the best compilation albums, this was pretty well the “perfect concert” in terms of a set list. The best of 1980s British pop performers, just their big hits, without a load of other stuff played “just because it’s on our new album.” Add a bunch of Christmas songs, and the whole thing lived up to the billing.

For those interested, a full set list (so far as the notes I took have it) is available as a Word document here (open the download, it’s safe as it is from the Theatremonkey website), but to save this simply droning on, I’ll just pick out the highlights for the odd comment.

It was pretty amusing to see everybody as they are now… remember all those sleek stars? Well, the ladies are still sparkling – Decker’s hair a vivid beacon, Graham bursting with energy, Wilde still rocking with the very best and Katrina walking on sunshine (with a lovely line in Judy Garland tributes, too).

For the men, Pat Sharp is as warm and entertaining as ever, but rather more gnarled – and the famous mullet is history. Peter Cox is Santa if he tries, Heywood and Kershaw rock, and Hadley has lost nothing of his style – even if time and gravity have moved forward. Hadley has a decent croon on “White Christmas,” but also a nice line in actually entertaining as “Gold” and “True” demonstrated. With most of the second half in his hands, he did well and was generous – especially to Jona Lewie who apparently hadn’t played live in 35 years… but did brilliantly with his two smash hits played on a small keyboard.

All in all, a well judged mixture of solo and duet efforts, with Kim Wilde’s set “Kids In America” truly rocking the place, a moving George Michael tribute from Nathan Moore, and pure nostalgia from Carol Decker to have the audience roar. The atmosphere among a very much 40+ aged audience was almost “school disco,” and the closing Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day was felt by all – just waiting for Santa Claus to Come to Town and bring it, perhaps.

Hopefully, this will happen again in 2018, and I’ll be booking. Nostalgic fun, really well staged (even if the promised snow for rows 1 to 14 ended up only on block A4 rows 12 to 22, guess where I was sitting…) with a decent lighting rig (neon icicles on stage) and good screen projections for those oddly filming them instead of the live acts… Professional and great value. New year’s resolution: see more rock…

 

 

And with that, have yourselves a “Merry Little Christmas” too, if you are Christian, and a great holiday and 2018 to everybody. I’m taking a blog break until 17th January 2018, when I’ll return with a list of the year, and the following week the “Goodmonkey Awards.”

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