Gig of the Week: Forever Young at Palmerstown House Estate

It’s time for your ma and da to don their gladrags, get to Kildare and party like it’s 1985

Kim Wilde is among the bigger throwback acts headed to Co Kildare in July

Nostalgia is all well and good, but if the music doesn’t match the memories, then all you’re left with is an empty feeling in the pit of your stomach and the worrying thought that, maybe, you were wrong about the music all these years or that it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Yeah, whatever, says you dismissively, as you arrange the babysitter for a night, call in the relatives for the weekend, search through your wardrobe for something suitably shiny, and – with The Human League songs rattling around your brain – pay a visit to Forever Young.

One might have thought Ireland would have previously hosted Forever Young, but no, this is the debut of the festival that tips its hat to some of the best (and mostly) UK pop acts of the 1980s. In the UK, Rewind Festival has been doing this kind of thing for some years; rounding up several dozens of music acts that enjoyed a sequence of chart hits in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, and which were either still doing the circuit or had dropped off the face of the earth for a while. The trick is to get the good ones as headliners across the weekend, and populate the lower reaches of the bill with acts that had at least three hit songs.

Marc Almond
The Human League

The favourable if not unique selling point of something such as Forever Young (and Rewind) is that the all-important headline acts come from an era in pop music when the sales of singles, in particular, were spectacular compared to now. The strike rates, also, were far more momentous. Take, for example, The Human League, the Sheffield electro-pop trio that headlines Forever Young's Saturday (July 6th) bill: from 1980 to 1995, they had 13 Top 20 UK hits, they were barely off the radio or television. Similarly, Kim Wilde (July 6th), who had 14 Top 20 UK hits from 1981-1993 and Marc Almond (Sunday, July 7th), who in Soft Cell had six Top 20 UK hits from 1981-1984 and, as a solo act, 19 Top 50 hits from 1983 to 1995.

Scoffers beware?

Music acts playing lower down the bill may not have seen as much chart action, and this is where the cheese factor makes itself felt. Scoffers beware? ‘Fraid so, as some of the lesser known acts tread that often too-thin line of having had hit songs that even back in the day were decidedly iffy and/or novelty (yes, we’re looking at you, Dr & the Medics, with your panto cover version of Spirit in the Sky). Forever Young’s The Great Pretenders Tribute Stage, however, is where the cheese quota is pungent enough to distance the most enthusiastic of music fan: from The Bon Jovi Experience, The Bootleg Police, and Wham! Tribute Show to The Joshua Tree, and Manoeuvres (a tribute to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), you are advised to use extreme caution.


And what about Irish acts from the era? While Feile Classical (due in September) is a similar wallow in nostalgia, Forever Young doesn’t overdo it, with less than a handful of acts (Hothouse Flowers, Andrew Strong, Bagatelle, Cry Before Dawn) beating the green drum.

Holly Johnson

The three-day event (which, with an unusually selfless touch, will raise monies for animal welfare charities) includes on-site camping, glamping, motorhome, some funfair rides, and various VIP options. Considering the age demographic, the event is presented as an adult attraction. “Under fives are free,” states the Forever Young website, “but not advised.”

Don’t you want me, baby? Not this weekend, thanks – your ma and da are getting their gladrags on and partying like it’s 1985.

Forever Young Festival 2019, Palmerstown House Estate, Naas, Co. Kildare, July 5th-7th. See