Reload 2014 preview: Don’t you want me baby?

Reload 2014

Reload 2014

Well Reload festival. You had me at Soul ll Soul, never mind all the other amazing and somewhat retro acts you have presented us with, on this, your first ever festival.

Reload’s debut festival seems set to be an unashamed dad dance and is maybe only a couple of legwarmers and a glitter ball away from utter perfection for those who want to listen to songs they know. I certainly envisage smiles all round as hit after hit you’ve danced to a thousand times at home or in clubs, are performed live by artists who know what show-business is all about and I can’t wait to see them on a big stage in the open air. You see this festival smacks to me of unbridled laughter and guilty pleasures, of dancing and sing-a-long-athons. It’s easy to see why, with the likes of Soul ll Soul, ABC, Kool & the Gang, Sister Sledge and The Human League performing, it’s pretty much guaranteed to fill my guilty-pleasure-o’meter. So why Reload? – Well I’m the first to admit that I often go to festivals to hunt down some cool new sounds and artists, but the all too common story for me, is I have been let down on numerous occasions and I can’t count how many times I’ve wished I could just dance to some party tunes, hence why I’ve decided to bank on this ‘dead cert’ of a good time and catch some classic and legendary acts.

Reload may be in its inaugural year, but the line-up is obviously well researched and put together, for anyone who enjoys their music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s they’ve pretty much got it covered. At first glance one could be forgiven for thinking this is just going to be a roll-out of ageing has-beens, but if you stop to think for just a second you will soon realise that there is a lot more to the programming than meets the eye. They have secured an exclusive in “Kool and the Gang” with Reload being their only UK gig this year, while the legendary Jazzie B and Soul ll Soul are a must see for me, heading here for their penultimate appearance of a festival season which has seen them play all over the UK and Europe. Sister Sledge, the original all-female pop act that paved the way for so many of today’s girl band megastars will perform on the Sunday, fresh from a gig at the Jazz Café, London if they’re not too ‘lost in music’ and Human League need no introduction to most, certainly not anyone with even the slightest penchant for the 80’s.

As you can see the music on offer is unashamedly retro, I’ve not seen this many artists from that era on the same line-up since Band Aid. The likes of Aswad, Odyssey and Billy Ocean too have an amazing discography that could nearly fill your iPod on their own and I wouldn’t be surprised if at this point you’re realising you’ve got some of these artists on yours. As if that role-call wasn’t enough, sharing the stage over the weekend will also be Imagination and Hot Chocolate, big acts of the era who are all indicative of the vibe. Five Star, Go West, The Real Thing and Heaven 17 are another of the ‘throwback’ gems on offer, while Jason Donovan and Rick Astley along with Bruce Foxtons, (from the Jam), the Abba covers of Bjorn Again will be happily adding to the nostalgia at what is undoubtedly going to be a family friendly festival. Your little ones (as long as they are over five) can join in the dancing to “We are family”, perfect memory making material, or the older ones can cringe more than a little as dad struts his stuff. As you can see I’m pretty excited by it but when you stop to think at all the amazing songs that are going to be heard I’m sure you’ll see why?

Spread over two days towards the end of the festival season, three if you include Friday, when you can arrive if you are camping, the event takes place at the Royal Norfolk Showground, nr Norwich and given the line-up and facilities on offer I am expecting it to be well run, hassle free and simply great fun. The venue has been used for festivals many times and is a great site, safe and easy to get to. They are offering glamping here too, with luxury Yurts available to hire for those that want to play ‘yuppie’. I always fancied carrying one of those big phones, maybe this is the place to rock that look? There is also a separate family camping area, showers, and all the usual facilities you’d expect to see at the established big festivals.  Sounds like a good start Reload.

All in all, despite the obviously retro (and in some cases ageing) line-up there are plenty of acts here who are able to rock a crowd, and I’m interested to see just how and who is still ready to show their passion, even if they’ve done it a thousand times before. I’m sure there will be surprises both ways. I’m going to throw it out there and go so far as to suggest if you like your music and vibes happy and retro, this is THE festival for you!

Reload takes place on the 5th to 7th September 2014 at The Royal Norfolk Showground, Norwich with tickets available for the Saturday, Sunday or the full weekend, although camping tickets are nearly sold out.

To buy tickets click here.