Review: Let’s Rock Leeds at Temple Newsam

This was a fantastic day’s entertainment as a huge crowd of several thousand were treated to numerous live performances from some of the most iconic pop acts from the 1980s.

By Ross Heppenstall
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 2:35 pm
Wet Wet Wet at Let's Rock. Picture: Martin Shaw
Wet Wet Wet at Let's Rock. Picture: Martin Shaw

If music from this era is your thing, then Let’s Rock retro festival is simply manna from heaven.

Let’s Rock is an annual celebration of all things pop and 1980s, with thirteen events across the UK this summer set to draw a total audience of over 150,000.

It says much for the enduring appeal of the acts on show.

Belinda Carlisle wowed the crowd at Let's Rock Leeds.

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    Okay, so it is not Glastonbury. But it does not try to be.

    The event labels itself as “something different: gloriously unpretentious non-stop fun where iconic names from pop play hit after hit to a crowd of all ages.”

    This year’s Let’s Rock festivals began in Berkshire on May 21 and end in Ipswich on September 10, with Saturday’s show in Leeds drawing fans from across Yorkshire and beyond.

    The gates opened just before midday and an endless stream of live acts such as Belinda Carlisle, Billy Ocean and Wet Wet Wet wowed the raucous crowd from start to finish.

    Annoyingly, I got my timings wrong and missed Bad Manners, a band who I had hoped to see, as they were on first.

    But it was not long before my childhood memories were evoked by a string of legendary artists.

    Tom Bailey, Nick Heyward, Nik Kershaw, Joboxers, Johnny Hates Jazz, Tiffany, Scritti Politti, Angie Brown, Sydney Youngblood, Tenpole Tudor, Sonique, Urban Cookie Collective and Ottawan all played fine sets.

    Tiffany took me right back to my younger years when she sang her hit song I Think We’re Alone Now.

    A personal highlight was seeing Belinda Carlisle who sounds – and looks – just like she did in the 1980s.

    She was rapturously received, as was Sydney Youngblood, while Billy Ocean was fantastic as he played his greatest hits such as When The Going Gets Tough, Red Light and Love Really Hurts Without You.

    As a concept, the festival works brilliantly, with easy access to the site and to the wide range of food and drink stalls even if, at £6.50 for a pint of lager, prices were rather steep, although that was to be expected.

    Wet Wet Wet, minus Marti Pellow, closed the show with a fine performance and, for the most part, the weather held up.

    Even the odd downpour did nothing to dampen the spirits of revellers, many of whom were resplendent in 1980s fancy dress costumes, which added to the colour and atmosphere of the festival.

    It was beautiful sunshine for most of the day, which reflected the mood of the crowd during a superb event.