Scone Palace

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Lorraine Wilson

SUNGLASSES on. Check. The first day of the Rewind Festival in the grounds of Scone Palace may have been blasted by a downpour, but a sea of dazzling Day-Glo fairly brightened the proceedings.

In its fourth year here, this is a festival that knows exactly what its audience wants, and delivers it with a flamboyant lacy bow.

Unashamedly retro, the audience, which isn't exclusively fortysomething, can arrive dressed as anything from Like A Virgin-era Madonna to one of the Ghostbusters squad, knowing that no-one is going to look at them askance. In fact, high fives are more likely.

With 30,000 in attendance over two days, campers arrived on the Friday to a site large enough to deliver the food, drink, and fairground rides that are part of every festival experience, but has the additional benefit of superb cover acts in the bar tents and a bit of karaoke for a break from the main stage if one of the acts was not part of the collection of 12-inch singles beside the hi-fi.

With only two days to programme, the festival manages to attract much of the best of the era, and anyone who recalls the 80s as simply Stock, Aitken and Waterman and the Kids from Fame is in for a pleasant surprise.

"When this music was made we all thought it had a shelf life of 30 minutes," says Midge Ure, who played a storming late afternoon Saturday slot.

"Now, it's being rediscovered and part of that might be the resurgence of vinyl. There's a real age range here."

With sets ranging from 15 minutes (Dr and The Medics - probably 10 minutes too long) to the headliners Billy Ocean and Hall and Oates (too short at even an hour) the bands are given enough time to pump out the hits and nothing else - festival perfection.

Sets from acts as diverse as The Sugarhill Gang, The Selecter, Heaven 17, The Boomtown Rats, and 10CC gave a good representation of the decade's diversity.

The surprising aspect of even the short sets is the amount of hits that have disappeared in the mists of time - and that everyone still remembers the words to.

How many Johnny Hates Jazz hits can you name? It matters not, but they filled a pretty decent 15 minutes.

Rewind organiser David Heartfield says the demand grows every year and has added another festival in the north of England to join Scone and the original Rewind at Henley.

He's also looking to expand the line-ups, with bands like Simple Minds a target.

"Music is memories really, isn't it?" Says Nick Heyward, another big crowd pleaser on Saturday, backed by his son and a full complement of musicians who were born long after Heyward stopped tucking his jumpers in.

"Revisiting these songs after such a long time is really refreshing and you can see how much they've meant to so many people."

Hardy music fans can stand a bit of the wet stuff and Sunday brought a battering mid-afternoon but blue skies returned to round off the night.

Sniffy types who prefer their music obscure can look down on this event, but they're missing the point.

Put it this way, even the biggest Paul Weller fans wanted to hear a few more hits in his T in the Park set last week.

Of course it was a bit of a mixed bag, inevitable with 24 acts, but festivals should be a celebration and great fun - Rewind is exactly that.