Rob Jones

Let’s Rock – Retro Festival franchise travels to different venues with a variety of bills and the cast of performers runs from the kitsch to the niche. This enormous event is a golden ticket for those radio friendly revellers born in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – and, this age group were out in abundance in for a date in the principality.
The Welsh leg of the tour was at Bute Park, Cardiff and that meant a schedule featuring well over 10 hours of sonic smashes. Heatwave, Livin Joy, Hollywood Beyond, Neale X of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Junior, Blancmange, Altered Images, Hue & Cry, Sonia, Five Star, Imagination, Nik Kershaw, Go West, Nathan Moore, Tony Hadley and Wet Wet Wet made up the undercard. It made for a hit factory and in turn a sweet soundtrack for senior worshippers of a pop parade past.
However, the headliners were the reason for attendance for many in a jam-packed crowd. This was an exceptional experience in Wales to have an opportunity to hear and see the sublime Soft Cell as worthy headliners because their brand is multi-faceted and genuinely epic. A brilliant back catalogue offer a series of real-life tales packed with emotion and devotion that touch a nerve. Poignant and potent lyrics combined with catchy and creative rhythms forge the climax of this exciting evening.
On a sweltering May night Soft Cell were simply immense via a superb choice of tunes with my favourite ‘Where the heart Is’ to the fore. Almond was on full alert with his mini novels centred around loving and losing, loneliness and lusting. Marc made his mark and his sidekick replacement was on the Ball. The backing singers plus screen displays also complimented the electro excellence. The boisterous beats leave an indelible imprint on the minds of the masses present and the act who now unite on an ad hoc basis made it an even more illustrious occasion.
The recent album – Happiness not Included – proves that an active Soft Cell makes for musical magic in a contemporary world of so much aural dross. The boys are on tour and then they will go their own ways but hopefully these 2023 dates can lead to a revived and regular roll out of further Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret and this occurrence can only result in enhanced Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing for the adoring fans.
Torch, Monoculture, Loving you hating Me, Where the heart Is, Purple Zone, What, Chips on my Shoulder, Soul Inside, Bedsitter, Memorabilia, Tainted Love/Where did our love Go and Say hello wave Goodbye. We need say no more as this aforementioned list of anthems played with aplomb is simply the biz!
An hour of sublime sounds from across a colossal career brought a Saturday of celebration to a close – but the conclusion was the icing on a tasty cake of many ingredients. It was not the Art of falling Apart but charismatic characters creating a sound Sensation Nation.
Soft Cell may have headlined a nostalgia concert, but they will always be contemporary and the audience were blessed to be in their presence. Almond was alight and it is good to
report that Ball has now returned – although post this gig. Let’s Rock Wales was a success and the years may advance with haste but the clocks were well and truly turned back across the decades for an audience who refuse to grow old gracefully.
Good Times are not just the domain of the young, and roll on the 2024 extravaganza!