Review By Frances Winston
Forever Young Festival WinterFest
INEC Killarney, December 6th and 7th 2019.
The line up:
Friday – Doctor & the Medics, Altered Images, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones
Saturday: Doctor & the Medics, Andrew Strong, The Christians, Nick Heyward, Go West, Tony Hadley
Following on from the hugely successful and lauded Forever Young Festival in the Summer, Winterfest saw a whole host of 80s stars descend on Killarney for a two-day pre-Christmas pop party.
The summer Festival had the benefit of beautiful weather (mainly) and the novelty value of being the inaugural year. Also the idea of a festival in Winter feels a bit discombobulating. Obviously people aren’t camping on site, and therefore were staying in various hotels, apartments and B&Bs, which did initially feel like it somewhat affected the camaraderie that existed during the summer one. It also meant that people tended to dribble in at their leisure, as they didn’t have the sense of urgency you get at an outdoor festival, when you can hear the bands from your tent. However, once the crowd were in, it was as if they were back in a field in Naas last Summer.
Doctor & The Medics kicked off both days, as The Doc himself, Clive Jackson, was compèring the entire weekend. He proved a huge hit at the summer festival, and yet again he went down a storm, engaging the crowd and exuding personality. I said it in the Summer, and I’ll say it again – someone give that guy his own show.
Friday kicked off later in the day, to allow people to travel, hence there were less acts. Altered Images were poptastic fun. They were followed by Nik Kershaw, who played one song and promptly left the stage for five minutes, as the keyboards weren’t working, and it would take that long to fix them. This was a bit of a surprise to the audience, but when he returned he really played a blinder. All his biggest hits were there, and he even threw in a little ditty he penned for Chesney Hawkes, called The One And Only. Rounding off the night, Howard Jones went down a treat giving an energetic and visually stunning performance.
Day two once again saw The Doc kick off proceedings, followed by Andrew Strong, aka Decco from The Commitments. As you would expect, his set was full of soul classics that had the crowd singing along. The Christians were actually a huge surprise. Obviously, I knew their music, but I would never have described myself as a fan. I am totally converted though after a fantastic set, punctuated by Garry Christian’s acerbic wit.
Former Haircut 100 singer, Nick Heyward, was up next, and I’m pretty sure he has a picture in his attic ageing for him. He looked astonishingly well, and at least 15 years younger than his actual age. He ensured that everyone in the audience had a “Fantastic Day”, with a fabulously upbeat set.
Go West treated the audience to several covers, alongside their own hits, including Sex is on Fire. Peter Cox’s voice is still wonderful, and he and bandmate, Richard Drummie, seemed to be having a great time.
Last but not least, Spandau Ballet legend, Tony Hadley, opened with a Christmas song, before performing a set filled with Spandau hits that had the crowd dancing and singing along. He has such an easy rapport with the crowd, and it’s easy to think that he’s singing just for you.
The party didn’t end with the bands either day, as there was a silent disco into the small hours each night, alongside Rockaoke (Friday)and a Duran Duran Tribute (Saturday) in another room, ensuring that guests got to dance until their feet hurt.
It didn’t quite have the same atmosphere as the summer festival – no indoor offering ever could. But it still had a lovely warm, welcoming and friendly vibe. The acts were top-notch and getting a road trip to beautiful Killarney was a bonus. Also the Forever Young festivals raise lots of money for the ISPCA and animal welfare, so you also get to do your bit for a good cause by supporting them.,
A lovely way to wrap up the festival year, this definitely left people excited for next summer’s Forever Young.
Tickets for Forever Young 2020 are on sale now: