The nostalgia fest that was the 2016 Kew the Music festival saw the camp crooner Will Young supported by the mildly funky and god-fearing Billy Ocean. Or was it the other way round? The middle class and middle-aged, even old-aged, audience danced round their picnic rugs for both acts. Impeccably turned out in a cream suit, Billy Ocean gave a polished, upbeat and energetic performance for a man of his years. He was supported by powerful backing singers, with the crowd enjoying a good sing-along to Get out of my Dreams and When the Going Gets Tough.
Will Young's performance was more circumspect and cynical. Chatty and a little irreverent, Young sometimes seems weary of his own music. Some of his most well known numbers, such as Evergreen, were notable by their absence. Young teased the audience about a 10pm curfew, but just about managed to string out his set to 10.30pm. While most of his material is melodious and works well, the odd track falls flat. Highlights include the haunting, yet catchy, Jealousy and the moody Leave Right Now. Young typically had the Kew audience swaying, rather than dancing.
With the sun out, the refined greenery of Kew Gardens provides a lovely backdrop for listening to live music, even if it some of the clientele can be a bit staid and stiff. For the Young and Ocean bill, there was a smattering of younger folk, including some kids, and there are masseurs going round to ensure no one pulls a muscle clambering up to dance. Moreover, it is easy enough to carve out some space in the dance area next to the stage, or you can park your picnic rug in front of the foldable chairs and get a good view of the acts. 8/10