Eighties extravaganza: Win tickets to the Audley End Picnic concerts...

PUBLISHED: 15:28 20 July 2012 | UPDATED: 15:41 20 July 2012

Carol Decker

Carol Decker

Archant

IT is 25 years since T’Pau’s China in Your Hand rocketed to the top of the UK singles chart. A time when Homer Simpson made his TV bow, British tennis ace Andy Murray was born and the first naked-eye supernova was observed since 1604.

And it is that last slice of history which is almost synonymous with the group’s meteoric rise to superstardom.

Caught up in a whirlwind of overnight success, Carol Decker and her band mates – including her then partner Ronnie Rogers – were thrust into the limelight in an instant. Except it was not as straightforward as it might seem.

Ahead of her appearance at the Audley End Picnic Concerts’ 80s night on Saturday August 4, the Reporter’s Sam Tonkin caught up with T’Pau’s frontwoman to discuss the X Factor, eighties fashion and whispers of new material to honour the group’s 25th anniversary.

IN a time when X Factor was nothing more than an adolescent synapse in Simon Cowell’s brain, a combination of endless touring, rocking out to half-empty bars and honing your skills in a garage was the foundation for a shot at the big time.

But ask Carol if she’d do it any differently if the option of fast track success had been laid out before her in the guise of a signed contract by Mr Cowell himself.

Not a chance.

The enigmatic 54-year-old is a self-proclaimed perfectionist who prides herself on hard grafting.

It is that very tenacious spirit that catapulted her and her band into the households of millions across the globe and one she hopes her 14-year-old daughter will adopt herself as she bids to make her first few tentative steps in the music business.

“I said to Scarlett, get in a band and start writing stuff. Go out and play music, don’t just join the queue at an X Factor audition.

“I wanted to sing so I joined a band. We didn’t have X Factor back then. We used to practice in a garage and spent years touring around pubs and clubs. I loved all of it.

“Then in the blink of an eye we were famous and were selling out Wembley Arena. It was crazy. But people think it just happened. They don’t realise the work that went into it.

“I got into music at the age of 22 and was 28 by the time China in Your Hand went to number one. I’d started thinking it wasn’t going to happen.”

Although she shudders at the mere thought of an X Factor conveyor belt churning out genetically engineered pop acts, Carol has more flattering things to say about other modern day artists.

“There’s some fantastic stuff out there,” she said. “I like the Foo Fighters, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and I love Rihanna because she’s such a badass it makes me laugh.”

But the singer still maintains the importance of hard work to truly appreciate success.

And how about now, has that fiery determination and love of performing dwindled since the heady days of 1987? Not in the slightest.

“I’m a natural performer – I’ve got that peacock personality. It is 25 years later and I’m still out there singing to huge crowds, which is just fantastic. I still love doing what I do. I get such a buzz out of performing and singing and people loving my music.

“I’ve starting writing again and we’re hopefully going to be putting out an anniversary CD at the end of the year,” she added. To keep track on the record’s progress follow @caroldecker on Twitter or visit tpau.co.uk

But in the meantime, you can see Carol and her fellow “80s big-hitters” at the Audley End Picnic Concerts, although don’t expect to see the return of eighties fashion – well, not on stage anyway.

“I love seeing the crowd turning up in their eighties gear. There are often lots of fancy dress outfits too – Ghostbusters, Mr Blobbys and even those dressed up as Richard Geere from An Officer and a Gentlemen. But don’t expect me to don any of my old outfits, they’re firmly in the closet where they belong!”

The Best 80s Party…Ever! event will give revellers a chance to relive their youth as hit 80’s artists Rick Astley, Jimmy Somerville, Midge Ure, Nick Kershaw, Toyah, Whang Chung and Dr and the Medics join T’Pau to whip the crowd into a party frenzy.

Tickets, £35, are available from audleyendconcerts.com, 0844 995 0995 (booking fees apply) or the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre. Doors open at 2.30pm.

● To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets for the concert on August 4, simply answer the following question:

In what year did T’Pau’s China in Your Hand reach number 1 in the UK singles chart?

A - 1987

B - 1986

C - 1988

Text SWR TPAU followed by your answer (A, B or C) and your name and postcode to 80058. Texts costs £1 plus your standard network rate. Competition closes at 12noon on August 2. Usual promotion rules apply, text customer services: 0207 633 5020.

● You can also win a pair of tickets for the Last Night of the Proms concert, compered by Aled Jones and featuring Natasha Marsh, on August 5. Simply answer the following question:

For what major football competition did Natasha Marsh record ITV’s theme song?

A - Euro 2008

B - World Cup 2006

C - Euro 2004

Text SWR MARSH followed by your answer (A, B or C) and your name and postcode to 80058. Texts costs £1 plus your standard network rate. Competition closes at 12noon on August 2. Usual promotion rules apply.

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