It might have been absolutely hammering it down in Northampton for the majority of Saturday (June 15), but that didn’t stop hordes of retro-loving music fans from descending on Delapre Park for a day of 80s nostalgia.

Armed with umbrellas, raincoats and some even inflatable guitars, the thousands-strong audience (many wearing era-appropriate neon leg warmers and fluorescent tops) arrived onsite before lunchtime - an impressive achievement for any festival, let alone on a day with a worryingly gloomy forecast. 

Getting down early paid off, however, as the festival programme kicked off with a huge name: Tony Hadley - of Spandau Ballet - performing his own and his band’s hits as the sun began to peak out of the clouds. 

“Look at this, the sun is shining down upon us in Northampton,” Hadley said to rapturous applause, later pairing ‘Through the Barricades’ with a plea for “a bit more peace in the world”.

As the heavens opened - thankfully after ‘True’ and ‘Gold’ - everyone ran for cover and, presumably, to upgrade their ticket to gain shelter inside the Club Tropicana-themed VIP area. 

Let’s Rock’s decision to put such a headline-worthy name on stage so early on into the day was a clever one as it ensured everyone was having a good time from the off, irrespective of the ever-changing weather. 

As the afternoon progressed, some relatively short sets, very specific stage times, impressively quick changeovers and a house band for several acts meant that it was a case of each artist playing the hits.

Liverpool’s Eurovision runner-up Sonia whipped through upbeat singalongs of her pop classics, including top 10 ‘Listen To Your Heart’, ‘Better the Devil You Know’ and ‘You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You’.

Altered Images’ self-confessed “Scottish nutter” Clare Grogan kicked off her set with the joyous ‘I Could Be Happy’, and closed with ‘Happy Birthday’ and a poignant statement: “can I just remind you, we’re still young!” She certainly didn’t need to tell those in the up-for-it audience. 

Following her was T’Pau, who introduced ‘China In Your Hand’ with a message of gratitude: “thanks to this song and a lot of you I’m still dragging my a*se around on stage 36 years later and it’s given me a great career”. After the set, one clearly satisfied audience member proclaimed “she’s still got it”. 

'Too Many Broken Hearts' singer Jason Donovan meanwhile proved just of a heartthrob as ever, especially as a woman in the crowd threw her underwear at him onstage.

Heaven 17 took things in a rave-y direction with ‘Temptation’ and a cover of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ while Go West capitalised on this dance energy with ‘Call Me’, ‘We Close Our Eyes’ and ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’.

A surprise guest performance from the Lotus Eaters’ Peter Coyle in the VIP area added extra value for money for those who had shelled out for most expensive tickets. 

Back on the main stage, Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins fame delivered plenty of fan favourites, including a lengthy singalong of ‘Hold Me Now’ which saw the audience unite a Capella.

The Boomtown Rats then brought their typically wild and expletive-heavy show to the festival, with frontman Bob Geldof beckoning “are you ready to do old school rock ‘n’ roll?” while looming over the front of the stage.

In terms of energy, and certainly harmonica-playing-whilst-on-your-knees, he really gave it his all and would give Mick Jagger a run for his money.

‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ was received as the classic it truly is, though it carried extra poignance as Geldof paused to make a powerful statement about Gaza and the “lunatics” who could win the upcoming General Elections.

“We’re coming up to an election but we’re still living in a rat trap," he said later by way of introducing the band's song, 'Rat Trap'. 

All that was left was for reggae king Billy Ocean to close the evening out with a succession of classics, sending the audience home singing and smiling.

Overall, although the site itself was relatively small, it had everything that you’d hope for: a wide range of food stalls, posh loos (available at a premium), plenty of space to set up camp (quite literally, for those with tents) and a steady stream of popular artists taking to the stage.

And, with nostalgia being bang on trend right now - the majority of modern pop songs sample sections of tracks from bygone eras - it’s easy to see why Let’s Rock’s is bringing retro lovers together all across the UK. 

If you're an 80s fan, you won't want to miss their next day festivals - in Leeds, Wales and Scotland later this month and next.


(Image: Richard Purvis Photography)

(Image: Tony Hadley)

(Image: Claire Grogan)