Festival Review: Jack Up The 80s 2016

The Garlic Festival Field, on the Isle of Wight, was blessed with warm sunshine as revellers descended on Jack Up The 80s for a fourth year. Now sporting a media partnership with radio heavyweights Wave 105, the two-day event was back and with a bigger line-up than ever before.

Following opening performances from local tributes High School Never Ends and Ska’d For Life, two members of 80s jazz-funk collective Light Of The World made an unadvertised and unexpected appearance on the stage. They hadn’t been confirmed to play leading up to the event, but no-one complained because they got the crowds dancing to some disco classics. After a quick changeover, they were followed by a rather similar sounding group, Londonbeat, now a trio, who, although found their fame in the early 90s, seemed to fit perfectly in with the rest of the line-up.

Londonbeat performing at Jack Up The 80s 2016


The crowd swelled and phones came out as Clark Datchler and his band Johnny Hates Jazz took to the stage, performing hits from their number 1 album Turn Back The Clock. The band gave a very solid performance and, looking on social media the following day, seemed to go down well with their fans. Next up was Saturday afternoon’s ‘special guest’ and 80s icon Paul Young, who played a greatest hits set backed by a full live band. His voice at times, however, seemed to be overpowered by his band and his somewhat lacklustre performance left a few fans disappointed. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that his songs are legendary and these provided some fantastic singalong moments.

The penultimate band on Saturday were From The Jam- back by popular demand following their storming set at last year’s event. Featuring original Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, the group rocked through some of The Jam’s greatest hits and had their fans bouncing throughout. Singer-songwriter and entertainer Leo Sayer was the final act of the night and he showed why he deserved the headline spot. It was also apparent that his voice hasn’t changed that much since his glory days and this meant for one of the highlight performances of the weekend.

Bruce Foxton, of From The Jam, performing at Jack Up The 80s 2016


The Sun was just as hot, if not hotter, on the Sunday and it seemed to me that more people were there too. Anyway, the music was once again kicked off by High School Never Ends and Ska’d For Life, who got everyone in the mood for another fantastic day of music.

Another act back by popular demand was Nathan Moore, lead singer of Brother Beyond, who, much to the delight of the ladies in the crowd, joined in with the masses for a rendition of Oops Upside Your Head. His performances are always very fun and it’s clear to see why he was invited back. He was quickly followed by Owen Paul, who closed his set with number 3 hit My Favourite Waste Of Time and then Phil Fearon, lead singer of 80s band Galaxy.

Nathan Moore, of Brother Beyond, performing at Jack Up The 80s 2016


After watching three karaoke-style performances, it was nice to see Angie Brown was joined by a full band and even a backing singer. She performed a set packed with soul classics and surprised everyone with her great sense of humour and beatboxing skills. ABBA Chique then took to the stage, another act who performed the previous year, and they attracted one of the largest crowds of the day and people of all ages were able to singalong throughout their set. Organiser Alex Dyke then announced that they have booked the band for next year’s Garlic Festival, so they must be doing something right!

Arguably the most anticipated act of the day was 80s pop sensations Five Star, who treated fans to their hits from the vivid era, as well as a surprisingly good rendition of Mark Ronson’s recent hit Uptown Funk. I normally cringe when bands try and cover it, but their version sounded pretty convincing. Headliners Bad Manners then brought the event to a close, as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations, and had their fans stomping their feet throughout. It only seemed fitting that they returned to play Jack Up for a third time as it is such a landmark year for them.

Denise Pearson, of Five Star, performing at Jack Up The 80s 2016


Jack Up The 80s 2016 proved to be another successful year for the organisers, leading them to confirm that the event will return once again in 2017. It would, however, from the perspective of Jack Up veterans, be nice to see a few less repeat acts for next year. All in all, it was great to see everyone leaving with smiles on their faces, even if they were a little sunburnt too. Roll on volume 5 in 2017!