T’Pau’s Carol Decker, Garry Christian and Katrina speak to us ahead of Meraki’s Amazing ‘80s event
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 August 2019
Festival-goers will be stepping back in time to the era of shoulder-pads, ra-ra skirts, stone-washed denim and big hair for a Friday to remember at this year’s Meraki.
This Friday's Amazing '80s evening includes performances from some of the decade's biggest musical artists, including Paul Young, Carol Decker of T'Pau, Katrina (late of the Waves) and Garry Christian.
We caught up with three of them to find out what they were looking forward to about performing at the festival.
Katrina Leskanich, usually part of Katrina and the Waves, is best-known for the likes of Walking on Sunshine and the Eurovision Song Contest winner Love Shine a Light.
She has a particular fondness for festival gigs: "There's an atmosphere where music and Mother Nature collide which seems to bring out the best in both - especially if the sun is shining. It's always a joy for me as a performer to see the audience very clearly smiling and enjoying themselves, feeling free and happy."
Carol agreed: "Festivals are a bit shock and awe, with big crowds of happy, smiling people who know all your stuff. Heart and Soul and China In Your Hand were our biggest hits so they usually go down the best."
For Garry, whose hits alongside his brothers in The Christians included Ideal World and Harvest for the World, likes the challenge: "Festivals have a broad spectrum of audience that you have to win over - sometimes people seem averagely excited at the start of our set, maybe they can't quite remember what we sung - then when we start playing all our hits it really changes and they become emotional and nostalgic.
"Our first album still remains Island Records' best-selling debut album, so there probably wasn't a house that didn't have it in their newly bought CD collection. I don't want to sound big-headed but we seem to blow the crowd away at festivals whereas at gigs people have paid just to see us so they're excited from the off!"
Asked why they think music from the 1980s still has such a broad and sustained appeal, the trio have their own theories about its enduring longevity.
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Carol argued: "We wrote great structured pop songs back then. Technology was leaping forward, there were amazing new keyboards, sequencers and drum boxes, and MTV was born so the music video really took off. These were all big steps in sound and vision, which were coupled with the individuality of the artists, who all had their own look and vibe."
Garry is convinced life was happier back then: "I honestly think one of the main reasons is that people in their 50s look back on the 'eighties as such happy times - no internet, no mobile phones, no WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc. People were less stressed and had time to listen to music without being bombarded by 400 other sensory attacks!"
Katrina added: "It's the only kind of pop music that has become a genre in itself - due to its iconic fashion styles and haircuts, and memorable melodies which were immortalised on MTV."
So does sharing a stage with their 1980s chart competitors open old rivalries?
"It's just lovely!" said Carol. "Although we were not all friends back then, we weren't enemies either, but we were competitive and ambitious. Now it's lovely as everyone is respectful of our individual achievements and longevity."
Garry agreed: "We have a laugh about this… Back in the day I suppose there was a little bit of rivalry but these days we see lots of 'eighties names on the busy festival circuit. Sorry to disappoint but they're all just so lovely - laid back, down to earth, friendly, a real laugh."
Katrina added: "We all come together with knowledge of having shared a similar experience and that can make us feel as if we are somehow bonded."
The third annual Meraki Festival takes place at Herts Showground in Redbourn this weekend (August 23-25), and Carol, who performed at the Alban Arena in 2015, knows the area well: "I lived in Stevenage for a while when I was very young and still have family there - we used to go to St Albans as it was a bit posh! It's my first time at Meraki though so it will be nice to see how St Albans does a festival!"
Garry said: "It seems to have everything, beautiful countryside, lovely people and it's close to London - but I can't believe the house prices! I hear this is the most affluent area in the UK! Meraki sounds like a great family vibe, and I'm looking forward to getting on stage and reminding people how great The Christians sound."
Katrina added: "I'm very familiar with St Albans, having lived in the UK for 45 years, and I'm looking forward to performing there for the first time."
Tickets for this year's Meraki are still available via the website at merakifestival.com