Supergroups are one of a kind. In one place and on one stage, they offer you the chance to witness collaborations between the biggest musicians. Whether a tribute project or a band offering brand-new music, it’s always worth seeing what all-star groups have to offer.
British Electric Foundation are one of the best and they should be. Having stormed the charts in the ’80s with performers like Tina Turner and the late great Billy Mackenzie, they bought all their electronic experience to Sunday afternoon at Rewind The 80s Festival. The iconic group in full flight featuring the full Heaven 17 band (including Glenn Gregory) plus the added flavours of Claudia Brücken, Glen Matlock, Jaki Graham, Paul Owen, and Peter Hooton.
Singer of the hit Duel, Claudia Brücken opens the British Electric Foundation set with echoes of her 80s electric-glam-‘gothic’ group Propaganda. The synth-pop diva easily connects with the audience, making them sing and dance to every song she offers up.
Owen Paul, known mostly for his No 1 hit My Favourite Waste Of Time, is another star shining on the British Electric Foundation stage. Along with his best-known hit, the Scottish singer and producer brings a cracking cover of Simple Minds’ Don’t You Forget About Me and causes severe waves of swinging bodies at the foot of the stage. The audience has no option but to fall victim to his charm.
Taking a crowd of singing and dancing festival goers to another level of crazy is not the easiest thing to do but Peter Hooton, the lead singer of The Farm, decides to use the power of his everlasting hit All Together Now. Although alone, without his band, he still puts on a brilliant show.
With the words “Okay, now it’s my time!”, Jaki Graham takes to the stage. The sweet-natured lady, gifted with a heavenly voice, apparently couldn’t spend any longer in the backstage area. Belting out her biggest hits Round And Round and Set Me Free, along with an endless run of smiles, the talented performer gets all the ovations and singalongs she deserves.
But the 80s weren’t just about sweet pop melodies and catchy songs, so the iconic Glen Matlock brings the taste of British punk to the table. The legendary bass player and Sex Pistols founding member causes spontaneous headbanging to erupt throughout the crowd during Pretty Vacant. The solid portion of punk, even when served on a sunny Sunday afternoon, serves as a reminder that, while it might be a bit older, punk is not dead!
The history of British Electric Foundation goes hand in hand with that of Heaven 17, another band formed by Martyn Ware, who was also one of the original members of The Human League. But whilst British Electric Foundation continues with various lead singers, Glenn Gregory has always been the voice of Heaven 17, and the revolutionary synth pioneers ‘headline’ this year’s BEF slot at Rewind The 80s North.
Glenn starts the Heaven 17 set with an unforgettable version of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. No one can ever replace Bowie, but Glenn’s vocal and immense presence superbly fill the gap, making it one of the best tributes to the Starman I’ve ever witnessed.
The Heaven 17 lead singer and co-founder keeps the audience up and dancing, presenting them with one of the group’s biggest hits, Temptation. Once again, this evening, gothic synth pop is well received by people’s hearts and raised arms.
The supergroup has one more treat on offer this evening. The stage fills up with all the BEF vocalists to perform a moving tribute to the late George Michael. Freedom! ‘90, featuring Claudia Bruecken, Glen Matlock, Jaki Graham, Peter Hooton, Paul Owen, and Glenn Gregory on lead vocals causes yet another loud singalong, although this time accompanied by a few tears in the audience and on stage.
The spectacular set once again confirmed the obvious: supergroups are one of a kind. And if you ever come across one, consider yourself lucky. You will be witnessing the unicorn of music running freely through its natural habitat.
Photo Story of BEF at Rewind The 80s North by Edyta K