Classic pop fun at Blickling

RICHARD BATSON Classic hits from the 1970s and 1980s echoed around Blickling Park as the stately amphitheatre marked 10 years of staging pop concerts with two all-star gigs.


They were the songs sung into a million hairbrushes by love-lorn and partying teenagers and which have filled dance floors for decades ever since.

Classic hits from the 1970s and 1980s echoed around Blickling Park as the stately amphitheatre marked 10 years of pop concerts with two all-star gigs.

It was like a giant karaoke party, with one big difference. As the 13,000-strong crowd over two nights sang along to the anthems of their youth, they were not being led by a CD player, but the chart-topping stars themselves from Gloria Gaynor and Tony Hadley to the Bay City Rollers and the Osmonds.

Saturday's sell-out anniversary party saw former Haircut 100 front man Nick Heyward kick off the fantastic day with Love Plus One - with a couple of women in the crowd commenting: “That in't him is it? He're put on a bit of weight”. Claws in girls!

Others had worn well. A none-too-shy Limahl sported a 21st century version of his trademark haircut which he confessed probably got many a child banned from school back in the 80s.

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T'Pau's Carol Decker, looking trim in tight trousers and leather jacket to match her mane of red hair, had the crowd singing China In Your Hand after telling them “Botox is a wonderful thing girls.”

Things began to rock when surprise guest Toyah - replacing an ill Paul Young - exploded on to the stage in a black PVC catsuit to blast out Guns n Roses' Sweet Child of Mine before singing her own hits.

The real singalong began when Midge Ure, despite wearing a dodgy-looking un rock and roll anorak, struck up Vienna.

And the party survived a rather overripe Bananarama, when the two remaining members were joined by a pair of male dancers and a deafening backing track, to reel off five tracks, including Venus. It was a routine which, compared to the other acts, was cheesy karaoke, and must have left people wondering why they are one of the most successful British girl bands.

The evening was rescued by the Weathergirls - daughter and niece of the originals - whipping up a storm with It's Raining Men, while a sophisticated ponytailed Belinda Carlisle had the crowd joining in with Heaven Is a Place on Earth though her voice did seem to “get weak”.

Headliners for Saturday were the smooth, black-suited Tony Hadley who scored a strong hat trick of singalong Spandau Ballet hits - True, Through the Barricades and Gold - leaving Gloria Gaynor to end the night with the timeless I Will Survive.

Earlier in the evening the crowd was a rippling sea of girls doing that put-one-arm-in-the-air-and-wiggle thing, while the blokes took their traditional role of standing beside them, holding a bottle of beer in crossed arms, looking hard and unimpressed.

At the finale, however, fuelled by non-stop hits and booze, they were a sea of seething dancing and singing - and left, as one fan put it “feeling like a teenager again.”

Last night the second part of the party weekend shifted back a decade to the 1970s, with a trio of big names, but who only drew a 3,000-strong crowd.

The tragic fashion days of tartan trimmings were recalled as Les McKeown's Bay City Rollers launched into a Shang-a-Lang-Shooby-Dooway sing-a-long to a highland fling of scarves.

Evergreen but greying heart-throb David Essex rocked on through his hits including Gonna Make You a Star and Hold Me Close laced with his usually cheeky charm.

And it was left to three Osmonds, Jimmy, Jay and Merrill to close the weekend with the family's famous ballads and a medley of seventies favourites before digging their spurs into the manic Crazy Horses.