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W Festival 2021Klein Strand, Oostende, Belgium
26th to 29th August 2021
W-Festival 2021 Day 1 with East 17, Toploader, Katrina (from Katrina and the Waves), Daan, Marc Almond, Roachford, Gipsy Kings (by Diego Baliardo), The Orchestra (starring former members of Electric Light Orchestra), Nena

You can already see the huge stage from far away: W-Festival moved this year to Klein Strand in Oostende, Belgium and promised four days of 80s and 90s music to the audience. Many cancellations and replacements were announced due to travel-restrictions and tour-cancellations before the festival even started and so it was a bit like a miracle that the doors opened right on time for the first day of W-Festival on Thursday. No facemasks - no social distancing: showing your Corona passport and you are good to go and allowed to party.

Only around 4,000 people used the chance to have a carefree day at the beach, but those who came sure did know how to start a party. EAST 17 helped the early to get into the right mood and were a good choice to kick-off a four-day-long festivity. They started with their hit ‘House of Love’ and took the audience on a journey back to the 90s, with all their guilty pleasures. You could see grown up men and women, who forget about their age and partied to the tunes of for example ‘It’s alright’, like they were teenager again.

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TOPLOADER, founded in 1997, added crowd-pleasing, nice Pop tunes to the day and when they played their smash-hit ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’, people looked satisfied and very relaxed. Not long after they ended their much-appreciated show BILLY IDOL’s ‘Rebel Yell’ could be heard everywhere in the cosy beach-town. KATRINA (without the Waves) played a lot of 80s songs in her set, but only a few of her own. ‘Walking On Sunshine’ pushed the clouds a bit away from the festival and the sun came through. When Belgium DAAN entered the stage, you could feel the tension of the audience: will it be a good or a bad day today? There is nothing in between, when it comes to performances of DEAD MAN RAY member Daan Stuyven. But it was a good day and his extraordinary voice and beautiful songs were all over the terrain and put a smile on all the friendly faces. And today everybody was in a really good mood. All food-stalls and bars were fully operational - no need to get hangry anymore.

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The best concert of the day was already delivered by afternoon-headliner MARC ALMOND, who played lots of SOFT CELL songs like ‘Tainted Love’, ‘Tears Run Rings’, ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ and ‘The Days Of Pearly Spencer’. Although in bright daylight the visuals of his show were also superb. After this high-quality show and celebration of life, the other bands of the day had a hard time to compete. Although ROACHFORD played a really good Soul and Rock show, they seemed to be a bit lost after such a demonstration of power. Their hits like ‘This generation’ and ‘Lay your love on me’ made people sing along, but didn’t start a party.

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One of the very last-minute additions of the festival were THE GYPSY KINGS as a replacement for A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS. Not an easy trade and many people went to the Batcave to avoid their artistic guitar-performances and dance to more appropriate tunes. THE ORCHESTRA (starring former members of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA) steered the festival ship finally back onto the right course with all their 80s smash hits. A great performance that started the party again. The next artist up on stage was NENA - after all the fuzz at home, she was very sweet to the audience, played a kind of Punk show and didn’t talk about politics at all. The German audience was very surprised. But sometimes: “Wunder gesehn”.

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All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( /

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