Bradley Snelling Retrofest and Reunions
Bradley Snelling, Retrofest, and Reunions
Bradley Snelling was born in London.
He became a professional actor from his mid teens and by 1998 had co-founded the ‘Threadbare Theatre Company’. By The mid-noughties, Snelling had made the move into live music, becoming festival director of a festival that for Kajagoogoo fans would soon take on great significance…
Described as “Europe’s largest Eighties music festival”, Retrofest was a two-day event that pulled in huge crowds – over 10,000 per day. So what brought this festival into being? A wave of 80’s nostalgia? An eighties revival? Maybe sheer demand? After all, the ‘Here and Now’ tours have been a huge success for some years now.
“Basically I wanted to see a bunch of bands who were big in my youth, but who I never got the chance to see,” explains Snelling. “I left school in 1983, so for me there’s a warm, cozy, nostalgic feeling about this. The Eighties was a great time for music. You had colorful characters like Boy George, MTV poster boys like Duran Duran, and doom and gloom merchants like the Cure and Depeche Mode. It was very diverse.”
The inaugural Retrofest was held at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire. Creating the event was essentially, an effort to tailor-make the ultimate 80’s dream gig that Snelling himself would have loved to have seen. Snelling and former circus ringmaster Malcolm Cannon were the machine that made it all happen, investing £500,000 of their own cash in order to make it a success.
“We decided to get back to basics, by putting on all the acts on one stage, and it all evolved from that”
In 2007, a part of that dream gig was Kajagoogoo…almost…as the band was booked as a partly reformed three piece group.
Video courtesy of SenorSenor:
It is thanks to Bradley Snelling that Kajagoogoo exist as a 5 piece outfit today. He was the catalyst that ended a 25-year-old feud within the group, and thanks to his intervention, Kajagoogoo fans were given back the band that was so prematurely taken from them all those years ago.
The first job on Snelling’s 2008’s festival hit list was to call Limahl, as well as the other band members, to discuss the possibility of a full reunion:
“I initially got an e-mail from a mystery guy in the US suggesting I get Kajagoogoo together to perform at the festival,” says Snelling. “He gave me the contact details for the band, and eventually I got them all together”
Limahl was interviewed back in 2008 about the reunion process. He explains:
“Basically, we spent the last ten years talking through lawyers really… then…..my mobile phone rang and this guy said ‘Hi, my name’s Bradley Snelling…I’m the new manager of Kajagoogoo and they want to get back together with you…and I laughed and wished him luck….and then me met in Windsor a week later for a coffee, talked about it all, and about a month later I was in the same room as the original line-up of Kajagoogoo talking about the future”
The Kajagoogoo reunion goes back as far as 2004 and an approach by VH-1 television, which although bringing short term reunion, left the band only able to progress as a three piece. Snelling however, achieved what most fans thought to be the impossible. Full reunion.
Video courtesy of Kajagoogoomusic:
The final word on the reunion tale comes from Nick Beggs:
“To have those guys back in the band again….like nothing happened…that means more to me than anything…”
Unfortunately, for Snelling, the Retrofest story did not have a happy ending. 2010’s festival was cancelled after the parent company for which Snelling and Malcolm Cannon were directors hit financial difficulty, and the festival looks likely never to return.