REVIEW: SAS Band and Trevor Horn Band at the Wickham Festival

Festival-goers soak up the fun at Wickham / Picture by Ian Hargreaves
Festival-goers soak up the fun at Wickham / Picture by Ian Hargreaves

I’m just back from the Wickham Festival where I’ve seen so many singers and musicians playing so many well-known hits, I’ve forgotten who I’ve seen and who I haven’t.

Matt Cardle singing I’m Not In Love? Yes. Toyah Willcox doing It’s A Mystery? Yes. Fish singing Kayleigh? Roger Taylor with It’s A Kind of Magic? Yep, that too.

And... Bill Oddie belting out Wild Thing? Err... yes. I think that happened, or was it a dream?

Oddie was an odd yet inspired addition to the sort of line-up you expect from Spike Edney’s All-Star Band.

Basically this is a group of seasoned musicians who are fronted by various guests, all co-erced into performing by Gosport’s own Mr Edney, for many years keyboard player with Queen and surely one of the best-connected men in music.

I’m guessing there were a fair few in the Wickham audience on Saturday night who, 20-25 years ago, were watching similar stuff at the old Gosport Festival in Walpole Park.

To be in the Wickham big top in 2016 was a lot like being in the Gosport one of the 1990s and it was there that Spike’s unique venture really took off. In 1992 he somehow persuaded Queen drummer Roger Taylor to perform in little old Gosport - and Taylor was headlining again here.

He was the last of five famous frontmen and women to appear with the SAS Band on this occasion, coming on as they ended with a couple of Queen numbers and a couple of tributes to David Bowie. Radio Gaga was his high point, by some distance.

He was preceded on stage by Toyah, Marillion’s Fish, soul legend Madeline Bell (looking and acting like half her 74 years) and Oddie, who’d been at the festival to give a talk on wildlife but who was a welcome if bizarre addition to this set, particularly his unusual rendition of Mama Told Me Not To Come.

Generally the vocalists did a mixture of their own songs and other people’s, and Bell’s tribute to Earth Wind and Fire founder Maurice White - September - was fabulous.

Before the SAS Band brought night three of four at Wickham to a rousing end, music producer extraordinaire Trevor Horn and his band warmed up the crowd nicely.

For those who don’t know, Horn was the man behind The Buggles - and we were treated to Video Killed The Radio Star and Living In The Plastic Age early in the set.

But he has also had also a hand in many other hits of the past 35 years, not least those made famous by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and we were treated their three biggest hits, two of which were sung by the versatile Cardle, who switched effortlessly from Seal’s Kiss From A Rose to Frankie’s Relax, which ended the Horn band’s hour on stage.

All this came after an hour of Rockney veterans Chas’n’Dave, a welcome sight at any festival, who flew from one singalong hit to another.

It takes something to relegate that duo to third on the bill but everything that followed justified its billing - even (or maybe especially) Bill Oddie.

* Today is the final day of the Wickham Festival, featuring, among others, Lindisfarne, Hayseed Dixie, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Steeleye Span. See www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets

STEVE BONE