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Saturday, June 23, 2007

The new edition of The Kemptown Rag has hit the streets today, and I've doubled my efforts this issue with a grand total of two (count them) articles. I like what they've done with my Naked Bike Ride report, making a short piece stretch to a whole page by adding oversized photos, but it's always a gamble letting someone else write your captions - my Jonathan Aitken article on page 5 now features the word "lack-luster". That's American spellcheckers for you.

Pardon?But anyhoo, Lisa and I made it to The Music Park 2007 last night, or as the official announcer on the tannoy put it, "Welcome to Music Fair! Er... Park. Oops". The evening started well when one of the stewards on the gate confiscated my two bottles of water, on the grounds that you're not allowed to take alcohol into the venue. I explained that it was non-alcoholic water, and he in turn explained that if the bottles were sealed I'd be more than welcome to take them in, but as they weren't (I'd filled them from the tap at home), they could theoretically contain anything, and the management can't risk me entering the park with two Evian bottles full of vodka.

I continued our friendly chat by offering to let him taste it, but sadly he informed me that "We're not allowed to do that". Presumably because if they drink everyone's water, they'll have to keep leaving their post to go to the toilet. In the end I gave up and handed it over. It was worse than trying to get baby milk through Heathrow.

Dog RoastOnce inside, we learnt that if you're going to use old-fashioned lettering on your fast food van, try not to make it look like you're selling dog meat. It might go down well in Korea, but they had a distinct lack of customers last night. But having browsed the comestibles, refused to pay £5 for a burger, and finally forked out £3 for an ice cream, I spotted Chris Difford of Squeeze in the VIP area, and attempted to nonchalantly sidle up to him, whilst ignoring the fact that there was a fence between us. Unfortunately popstars are shy, nervous creatures, and I think I moved too fast, startling him and sending him scurrying back into the hospitality tent before Lisa could take our photo.

But I consoled myself by purchasing a signed copy of 'The Very Best of Howard Jones', which is a surprisingly long album. The girl on the stall gave me a choice of signatures, so I tried to choose the one that looked most like 'Howard Jones', and didn't look like it had been written by his P.A.

Anyhoo, the first act on at 7:30pm was Altered Images, or as the announcer put it, "Clare Grogan's Altered Images". Which turned out to be PR-speak for Clare Grogan on her own. I know her best as Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf (I can't believe that character has its own Wikipedia page), something I was reminded of when she waltzed onto the stage looking short in a crimson dress.

She sang four songs, which was three more than I knew, but halfway through her set, I looked to the left and saw a spectacular vision in white appear in front of the stage and make its way towards me. It was none other than David Van Day, dressed in a luminescent white suit that really brought out his fake tan, arriving late and trying to find his seat in the front row, whilst simultaneously looking for a new pop career after his defeat at the polls last month. Needless to say the seat was all he found.

Next up was former Kajagoogoo frontman Limahl, who performed a medley of hits before spotting David Van Day in the crowd (he was hard to miss in that suit), and calling him forward to receive a signed photo. David, who clearly has no shame, happily accepted it on behalf of his wife. At least that's what he claimed.

When 'The Neverending Story' came to an abrupt end after four minutes, Limahl was replaced by Paul Young, who bizarrely only did three songs. Limahl had been on so long he'd had time to do a Duran Duran tribute act, and even Clare Grogan got four songs, but if you're one of the biggest solo stars of the 80s, you only get three apparently. Not that I'm complaining - he still sings like he's got painful constipation, and his songs do nothing for me.

The show reached a new high with the arrival of Go West, whose set was delayed momentarily while the elderly guitarist in the backing band (who was defining the 80s by looking like an octogenarian) put on his coat. I was never a big Go West fan, but Peter Cox can certainly belt out a tune, and they were easily the best act so far. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Howard JonesUnfortunately as we waved goodbye to Go West, the weather went south and it started raining, so I went and hid in the toilets while they were setting up for the highlight of my night: the ivory-tinkling legend that is Howard Jones. If you're wondering what happened to Limahl's hair from the 80s, then wonder no more - Howard Jones is wearing it now. He was also sporting a very fetching pair of sparkly trousers a la Ben Elton circa 1986.

As someone who still owns most of Howard's old albums on vinyl, I naturally enjoyed his set more than any other, although I failed to get backstage to tell him so. Fortunately though, his website says "If you are a promoter and would like to book Howard to play at your venue, anywhere in the world, then please contact us". So I'm saving up for my birthday.

Wilde About KimThe penultimate act was none other than Kim Wilde (pictured right, being attacked by a giant hand) who, not content with being the BBC's gardening expert, is still quite big in Germany apparently. But then so is David Hasselhoff, so it's nothing to boast about. She belted out a string of hits, before proving she has a sense of humour by introducing the song 'Kids in America' with the words "And don't forget to mulch your borders this summer!"

As the final band ABC arrived it started chucking it down with rain. I would have been happy to leave early, but we stayed til the bitter end, and I'm glad we did, because ABC were a pleasant surprise. I may not have known all their songs, but it makes such a difference when the lead singer can actually sing. Which brings me back to Altered Images...