24th to 28th August 2022
W-Fest 2022 Day 5 with Robin S, Blackbox, Heaven 17, Go West, Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, Sheila E, Belinda Carlisle and Holly Johnson
Here we are already with the last day of the festival. It was a good ride so far. Also this day greeted us with perfect festival weather… a bit over 20 degrees, sunny and no rain in sight. The line-up was offering some very special bands once more and I was especially looking forward to the last show of the day, HOLLY JOHNSON.
The day was opened a bit earlier than the days before with ROBIN S. (full name Robin Stone), an American Pop singer. She rose to fame in the 1990s with hits like ‘Show Me Love’, ‘Luv 4 Luv’, ‘Midnight’ and ‘It Must Be Love’. The New Yorker got a record deal with Big Beat Records in 1993. Her debut album ‘Show Me Love’ topped the charts that same year. The success earned her an appearance at the 1994 American Music Awards. In 1997 the second album ‘From Now On’ was released, which contained influences from gospel, ballads and dance music. The first single ‘It Must Be Love’ became a big hit. The day started with some soulful dance music and a singer in best mood who ruled the stage with her presence all alone… the music came from tape. She directly addressed the audience. He asked them if they remember the sounds they made when they sat down in the eighties when they were young… the grunting was back then because the pants were too tight, today it is because anything is aching. Good start of the day with a vocally top-notch and very likeable artist who is now sixty years old and still living her dream making music. Setlist ROBIN S: 01. Intro with Love 4 Love / 02. You know how to love me / 03. Blessing me / 04. All I do / 05. I believe / 06. Show Me Love / 07. I believe (remix - walk off song)
BLACKBOX is an Italian House / Eurodance project founded in 1989 by Valerio Semplici, Daniele Davoli (DJ Lelewel) and Mirko Limoni. Hallmarks are soulful female voices, piano melodies and powerful bass drums, which are accompanied by violins and brass sections. The first albums were all sung by Martha Wash, a member of the WEATHER GIRLS. BLACKBOX’ biggest hit, ‘Ride on Time’ (1989), was based on vocal samples from Loleatta Holloway. Apart from ‘Ride on Time’, the debut album ‘Dreamland’ featured other Top 10 hits: ‘I Don’t Know Anybody Else’, ‘Everybody Everybody’ and ‘Fantasy’. The show started with the hit ‘Everybody Everybody’ and presented singer Celestine Walcott-Gordon with a perfect vocal range. Her voice was so full of power and she had a great stage presence. ‘Not anyone’ made people dance and the following mash-up of THE WHITE STRIPES’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ or EURYTHMICS’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ made people sing along loudly. Climax of the show was reached with dance hit ‘Ride on Time’. Setlist BLACKBOX: 01. Everybody, Everybody / 02. I Don’t Know Anybody Else / 03. Strike It Up / 04. Fall Into My Love / 05. Fantasy / 06. Not Anyone / 07. Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes cover with ‘Sweet Dreams’ snippet by Eurythmics) / 08. Ride on Time
HEAVEN 17 as next band was surely one many of the attendees were waiting for. The British Synth Pop band emerged in Sheffield in the early 1980s from the British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.) music production project set up by Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware following their split from THE HUMAN LEAGUE. Singer Glenn Gregory, who had previously appeared with B.E.F., completed the formation. Just like THE HUMAN LEAGUE, HEAVEN 17 primarily used synthesizers and drum machines as instruments. The band had their first success in 1981 with the debut single ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’. The band had its greatest successes in 1983 with the song ‘Temptation’ and the ballad ‘Come Live with Me’ from the LP ‘The Luxury Gap’. Starting off with ‘(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’ and ‘Crushed by the Wheels of Industry’, the first song they played at Pop of the Tops back then, when it was still famous, followed with ‘Play to Win’. A little surprise for me was the DAVID BOWIE cover ‘Let’s Dance’. People loved it and I really liked that version too. Glenn was in perfect vocal condition and also both backing singers delivered. Following ‘Let me go’ was the HUMAN LEAGUE classic ‘Being Boiled’… at the end both bands have common history. I must admit that I like HUMAN LEAGUE’s version more, even if the presented HEAVEN 17 version was the “original”; the band did great and people loudly clapped along. Big hit ‘Temptation’ closed the show in a new version whose beginning and beat I did not like so much. Setlist HEAVEN 17: 01. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang / 02. Crushed by the Wheels of Industry / 03. Play to Win / 04. Geisha Boys and Temple Girls / 05. Let’s Dance (David Bowie Cover) / 06. Come Live With Me / 07. Let Me Go / 08. Being Boiled (The Human League cover) / 09. Penthouse and Pavement / 10. Temptation
British pop music duo GO WEST, founded 1982 by Peter Cox und Richard Drummie, had its most successful period between 1985 and 1993. The debut single ‘We Close Our Eyes’ was released in 1985. The song climbed into the German and Swiss Top 20 as well as the English Top 10 and is still the most successful GO WEST single in Europe. After a lengthy hiatus, GO WEST had a Top 10 hit in the United States in 1990 with the single ‘The King of Wishful Thinking’ from the soundtrack to the movie ‘Pretty Woman’, making the song the band’s biggest hit in America. 2020 was the 35th anniversary of the release of their first album ‘Go West’ and the band were due to tour to celebrate this, but due to Covid, this had to be re-scheduled. GO WEST have played live around the world continuously since their inception. They have certainly earned their reputation as an outstanding, exciting live act. GO WEST delivered a solid show without real highlights. The set contained several covers, the DURAN DURAN song was quite good. Debut single ‘We Close Our Eyes’ and US hit ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’ followed at the end. For latter one, the audience had to sing the lyrics on their own at the beginning. Setlist GO WEST: 01. Don’t Look Down / 02. Black And Gold (Sam Sparro cover) / 03. Faithful / 04. Let Love Come / 05. All You Ever Wanted (Rag’n’Bone Man cover) / 06. Tracks Of My Tears (The Miracles cover) / 07. Hungry Like The Wolf (Duran Duran cover) / 08. Call Me (with band introduction) / 09. We Close Our Eyes / 10. King Of Wishful Thinking
THOMPSON TWINS’ TOM BAILEY was up next. English singer, songwriter, composer, musician, and record producer Bailey came to prominence in the early 1980s as the lead vocalist for the New Wave band THOMPSON TWINS (until 1993), releasing five singles that entered the top ten charts in the United Kingdom during the 1980s: ‘Love On Your Side’, ‘We Are Detective’, ‘Hold Me Now’, ‘Doctor! Doctor!’, and ‘You Take Me Up’. He currently works in various musical fields including scoring for film. He records and performs dub music under the name International Observer and Indo-fusion music with the Holiwater Project. He was also active in other projects and as solo artist. Today, Bailey only played THOMPSON TWINS songs except one -the TALKING HEADS cover ‘Psycho Killer’. Bailey and his all-female band of three (keys/cello, drums, keys/bass) entered the stage all wearing white… perfect for a sunny day at the beach. The show started right with the classic ‘Love on your side’ followed by ‘You take me up’ where two giant red balloons were thrown into the audience. But it was so windy that they were blown away before the audience could “play” with them. Musically and vocally, Tom and the band were perfect. Just like the day before with TONY HADLEY, also TOM BAILEY is a real entertainer ruling the stage while just singing or switching also to key, guitar or drum pads. Great show. I also liked the TALKING HEADS cover ‘Psycho Killer’ a lot. My real highlights followed then afterwards with ‘Doctor! Doctor!’ and ‘Hold me now’ when anyone was excited and sang along… at the end all alone without any music. People knew the words very well. Great atmosphere! Setlist TOM BAILEY: 01. Intro / 02. Love on Your Side / 03. You Take Me Up / 04. The Gap / 05. Lay Your Hands on Me / 06. Lies / 07. Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover) / 08. Doctor! Doctor! / 09. Hold me now
Women power now on stage with SHEILA E. who started making music already in the age of three. She established herself as one of the most talented percussionists / drummers and performers in the world. In early years, she was session and touring musician for lots of famous artists (i.e. Diana Ross or Lionel Richie) and later on, SHEILA E. has served as drummer of RINGO STARR’S ALL STAR BAND and musical director for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce’ Knowles, and PRINCE. She gained international fame in the 1980s through her collaboration with the musician PRINCE. Her most commercially successful single, ‘A Love Bizarre’, was released in 1985. She has released several albums and singles on her own as well. Dress code for bands seemed to be white today since the band of Sheila was, like the band before, dressed all white. Only Sheila herself was wearing a light-blue dress. This woman has power! Not only vocally, but also in her moves and especially when drumming. She was in Europe 2019 before the pandemic and really happy to be back, as she told us. I was amazed about her charismatic attitude and voice. Never saw her before but I am sure I will attend one of her solo shows in future. Not only was I excited by the show, also the whole HEAVEN 17 band was watching the show from the pit and the festival crew was dancing there. Within the show, Sheila even came down from stage with her guitar into the pit to be close to the fans and song a song there. At the end of the show she nearly destroyed her drums and flipped a part in the air. Setlist SHEILA E: 01. Intro / 02. Shortberry / 03. Olivers House / 04. Holly Rock / 05. The Belle of St. Mark / 06. 17 Days / 07. Koo Koo / 08. A Love Bizarre (with refrain of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ and band introduction) / 09. Oakland In Da House / 10. Rockstar / 11. What the World Needs Now Is Love (Burt Bacharach cover) / 12. End Medley: Erotic City, Let’s Work, U got the Look, America the Beautiful, Baby I’m A Star, Glamorous Life
BELINDA CARLISLE following now was also an artist I was very curious about. Amidst changing tastes, the gifted and glamorous singer-songwriter has indelibly touched the hearts of pop fans around the world with her unique blend of gutsy vocals, emotively charged melodies and picturesque lyrics. The US-American singer first rose to fame as a member of the Rock’n’Roll band GO-GO’S. After their dissolution, Carlisle embarked on a successful solo career in the late 1980s and had hits like ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’, ‘Circle in the Sand’ and ‘Leave a Light On’. ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’ is widely considered to be Carlisle’s biggest hit and her trademark. What a charismatic person. I liked her immediately when she entered the stage. Never saw her before but she convinced me at once. Her voice was perfect and she has a great stage presence. She aged with pride and still looks wonderful, just as Sheila before her. ‘Circle in the Sand’ - probably the most perfect song today for a festival at the beach - was wonderfully performed and I saw myself singing along loudly. Beautiful. ‘La Luna’ afterwards was the perfect song for the setting sun. “This song is my favourite I’ve recorded since 1979”, she said and started with ‘Summer Rain’. ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’ was ending the set and it was just wonderful. Today, heaven was the place on Oostende beach. Setlist BELINDA CARLISLE: 01. Runaway Horses / 02. (We Want) The Same Thing / 03. Nobody Owns / 04. Should I Let You In? / 05. I Get Weak / 06. Circle in the Sand / 07. La Luna / 08. Summer Rain / 09. Mad About You / 10. Leave a Light On / 11. Heaven Is a Place on Earth
There he was, HOLLY JOHNSON; the artist I was eagerly waiting for today. Could he keep up my expectations? I saw him before and back then I was excited. The British singer, songwriter and painter rose to prominence in the 1980s as the lead singer of the group FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD (I guess anyone remembers the hits ‘Relax’ or ‘The Power of Love’) and has also had chart success as a solo artist. FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD was successful in the charts from 1983 to 1987. Since he did not agree with the musical development, he left the group in the spring of 1987. In the spring of 1989 he released his first solo album, which reached number 1 in the UK charts. A well-known track from the album is the song ‘Americanos’. And while the W-Fest DJs were spinning their eighties songs and people were dancing on the festival ground, we all were waiting for Mr Johnson to end the festival. Holly, entering the stage wearing big sunglasses along to ‘War’, brought his own smoking machine he used during the first two songs. With ‘Warriors…’ we already speed up and the party really got started with ‘…Pleasuredome’.
Holly was in best mood, finally without sunglasses you could see his eyes smiling, and celebrated with the crowd that was on fire. One hit followed another and no one on the ground was standing still. After ‘Penny Arcade’ and before reaching the climax of the show, it was time to introduce the band - all in all seven people being on stage with Holly. After the smashers ‘Relax’ and ‘Two Tribes’, the encore was given with ‘Power of Love’, his “Favourite song not only for Christmas” was ending the show. Holly returned with a golden jacket and sang with full heart, threw hears into the audience and not only me had wet eyes. There is no better way to end this festival. Setlist HOLLY JOHNSON: 01. Intro / 02. War (Edwin Starr cover) / Warriors of the Wasteland (Frankie Goes to Hollywood song) / 03. Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Frankie Goes to Hollywood song) / 04. Rage Hard (Frankie Goes to Hollywood song) / 05. Americanos / 06. Love Train / 07. Do You Wanna Funk? (Patrick Cowley cover) / 08. In and Out of Love / 09. Heaven’s Here / 10. Penny Arcade / 11. Watching the Wildlife (Frankie Goes to Hollywood song) / 12. Relax (Frankie Goes to Hollywood song) / 13. Two Tribes (Frankie Goes to Hollywood song) / Encore: 14. The Power of Love (Frankie Goes to Hollywood song)
All pictures by Dani Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)