WELCOME ➤ TO THE SWINGING EIGHTIES

In 1980 a youth movement began reshaping Britain.
Its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This writer’s words and pictures tell the tale


❚ As a decade the 70s spelt doom. British youth culture had been discredited by punk. A monumental recession followed the Labour government’s “winter of discontent”, threatening the prospect of no jobs for years ahead.
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As the last of the Baby Boomers, the so-called Blitz Kids were concerned with much more than music. In 1980 they shook off teenage doubt to express all those talents the later Generation X would have to live up to — leadership, adaptability, negotiating skills, focus. Children of the age of mass TV, these can-doers excelled especially in visual awareness. They were the vanguard for a self-confident new class who were ready to enjoy the personal liberty and social mobility heralded by their parents in the 60s.
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For Britain, the Swinging 80s were a tumultuous period of social change when the young wrested many levers of power away from the over-40s. London became a creative powerhouse and its pop and street fashion the toast of world capitals. All because a vast dance underground had been gagging for a very sociable revolution.
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“From now on, this will become the official history” — verdict of  a former Blitz Kid.
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➢ THE MENU AT TOP leads you into this Aladdin’s Cave.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates which also link to the background pages in the menu.
CLICK HERE to run the anthemic 80s video ♫ ♫ from Spandau Ballet and feel the chant.

electro-pop, synth-pop, bowie, ashes to ashes, Chant No 1, kid creole, blue rondo, animal nightlife,visage, duran,depeche mode, midge ure,ultravox, human league, rich kids, makers, gentry, ABC,soft cell, bolan,vince clarke, haysi, lennon, cleave,wham!, mclaren, mallet, heaven 17, yazoo, foxx, omd, bauhaus, oakey,Martyn Ware,altered images, 20th-century box, westwood, px, axiom, bodymap,willy brown, foundry, sue clowes,demob,seditionaries, acme attractions,ritz, zg,viz,i-D,the face,new sounds new styles,Kornilof, andrew logan, kahn & bell, biddie & eve, toyah,dencil, batcave, barbarella's, croc's

July 2, 1981: Shooting the video for Chant No 1 at Le Beat Route club in Soho, “down, down, pass the Talk of the Town”. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s


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➤ A Duranie showers praise on Spandau’s Soul Boys gig in Los Angeles

Spandau Ballet , Soul Boys of the Western World, US Tour, pop music, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Swinging 80s,

Streaming live: old romantics Spandau Ballet paying the Wiltern, Los Angeles, on Sunday night. Screengrab © Yahoo/Live Nation

➢ VIEW Yahoo’s online stream of Spandau Ballet’s Sunday concert at Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles (initially on a continuous loop but later reduced to clips)

➢ Update 28 Jan: View Spandau Ballet’s number Only When You Leave from Yahoo’s stream of last Sunday’s concert at Wiltern Theatre

Spandau Ballet , Soul Boys of the Western World, US Tour, pop music,
➢ Oh the irony! At the ultimate Duran Duran fansite, Rhonda reviews Spandau Ballet live in Los Angeles 2015

I have to give Spandau credit: they are the real deal. They PLAY… and any backing used is incredibly minimal compared to many other bands. Tony Hadley has a better voice live than nearly any vocalist I’ve ever heard, and I’m sure the Jack he used for toasting the audience does nothing to hurt him, either. I can’t really say enough about Tony’s vocal talent OR the rest of the band. Steve Norman is a sax GOD, not to mention a world-class percussionist, of course Gary and Martin Kemp are the backbone of the band along with John Keeble on drums.

There was something really heartwarming as I watched fans scream with glee as Tony broke into Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) or the way the entire audience sang True with the band. . . As we waited in line outside, I halfway listened as the people in back of us talked about the trek they were making to follow the band on their tour across the country, and how they talked about members of the band as though they were old friends. It reminded me so much of the “relationship” Duran fans have with the band. As much as we might be different – Spandau fans and Duran fans – we’re really the same. . . / Continued online at the Daily Duranie

Spandau Ballet,Daily Duranie , Soul Boys of the Western World, John Taylor, Martin Kemp

Duranspan or is it Spanduran? The New Romantics John Taylor and Martin Kemp in 1985

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2015 ➤ So no pressure then, as Spandau’s world tour kicks off

◼ “WHAT A GREAT WAY TO START A WORLD TOUR!” a beaming Steve Norman told the audience in San Francisco last night. “Thank you so much.” Spandau Ballet kicked off their 41-date Soul Boys of the Western World Tour at the 2,300-seat Warfield, built as a plush crimson vaudeville theatre in the 1920s, the same venue they played on their last US visit 31 years ago. And judging from the singalong audible on YouTube videos posted by fans, the night sounded a success.

Two more dates complete the California leg of the tour this weekend, much to the disappointment of fans in other parts of the US and Canada whose bookings were cancelled at short notice last week and rescheduled into April and May. Many had planned to fly in from other states and even other countries to attend. One Canadian diehard who had bookings for five concerts told us: “If I had known all this, I would have gone to London to catch the UK start in March.”

Spandau Ballet , Soulboys of the Western World, US Tour,The band assure Shapers of the 80s that this decision had been taken by their American promoter. Last night sax player Steve Norman said: “I do understand that some people were put out, to say the least. Please give my apologies. It is a real shame.”

As for returning to the Warfield, Steve said: “It was an awesome night, felt like a second coming for all present. The energy in the room was electric. I guess expectations were high seeing as we hadn’t performed in the US for so long. But American fans are loyal and they made sure it was one of the most enjoyable Spandau shows of all time. I’m so looking forward to the LA gig tognight.”

Fans beyond California have a small compensation: Yahoo’s live online stream tomorrow night from the Wiltern Theatre concert in Los Angeles at 8.45pm (PT), and viewable thereafter on a seemingly indefinite loop 24/7.

First night at the Warfield: Click any pic to launch slideshow


➢ The first review is in from Jim Harrington
of Bay Area News Group:

The synthesizer and saxophone soared. Saccharine ballads and slick pop anthems were in ample supply. Folks dressed up like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice. There was an old-school MTV sheen to the entire production. Most important of all, the lead singer’s hair was perfect. Man, I love the 80s.

And it felt like I got a second helping of the decade at The Warfield, courtesy of 80s hitmakers Spandau Ballet. . . The show was mostly about celebrating the past. Yet, the group also gave us reason to believe that Spandau Ballet might have a promising future … / Continued online

➢ Steven Gdula in awe at the Warfield
for Dinosaur magazine:

The first seven songs included three new compositions, plus past hits Highly Strung, Only When You Leave and Round and Round. The performances were winning. At times blistering, even. So much so that my old indifference to latter-day Spandau Ballet compositions was replaced with more than just respect. I was in awe. Tony Hadley’s voice fits him better than ever at this point in his life, and his comfort level shows. His phrasings were sophisticated, sometimes lingering behind the beat, sometimes anticipating it, sounding every bit like the soul or jazz crooners he’s emulated. And when he allowed his voice to soar, no roof could have sealed it in. Steve Norman’s sax rides were likewise unstoppable, often to the point of competing with Hadley’s voice in the mix. The Kemp brothers — Martin on bass and Gary on guitar — were tight and musically stylish without being flashy, and John Keeble’s muscular drumming kept driving it all forward. . . / Continued online

➢ New dates for Spandau Ballet’s North America live tour – starting 23–25 Jan in California but with other US and Canada concert dates rescheduled for April–May. Click through for complete list of world tour dates 2015.

Spandau Ballet , Soulboys of the Western World, US Tour, NYC, SiriusXM,

At SiriusXM radio on Wednesday: Spandau Ballet studio session for coast-to-coast satellite broadcast. Photograph by Richard Blade

Spandau Ballet , Soulboys of the Western World, US Tour, Steve Norman, John Keeble, Tony Hadley, ,

Keeble, Hadley and Norman, 2015: grabbing a proper pint at the Belmont on La Cienega in Los Angeles. (Tweeted by Steve Norman)

UPDATE: AT THE WILTERN, LOS ANGELES

➢ Lina Lecaro is seduced for the LA Weekly:
The band’s first proper Los Angeles show in three decades did not go unnoticed. It sold out the Wiltern Theatre, and a second night was added. Saturday, the first of the weekend shows, the “boys” of Ballet had something to prove to LA and they did, bestowing their mostly thirty-and-fortysomething fan base with a set that was near perfection sound-wise and as visually appealing as anything they did back in their 80s heyday. And yes, by visually appealing we mean they still look good. Real good. . . / Continued online

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➤ Spandau fan Jan says Yes that’s me shinning up the drainpipe in 1982

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Liverpool Empire, 1982, Diamond Tour, fans,

8 May, 1982: Now identified! A teenage fan shins the drainpipe at the Liverpool Empire giving access to Spandau Ballet’s dressing room on their first nationwide tour with the Diamond album. Snapped by © Shapersofthe80s

◼ A 30 YEAR-OLD MYSTERY HAS BEEN SOLVED. At the climax to Spandau Ballet’s first national tour in 1982 fan mania broke out on a level comparable to the 1960s. When their single Instinction crashed into the UK charts with freshly injected energy from producer Trevor Horn, three extra tour dates were added in May. After the show in Liverpool, the creative birthplace of British pop music, a crowd of about 500 fans mobbed the stage door at the fabled Empire theatre. A shadow had only to fall across the band’s dressing room window for screams to erupt in the street.

Two girls then decided to shin the drainpipe and beat the window with their handbags until they were let in. I was in the crowd snapping their daring climb, but for years the girls’ identities remained unknown. Now, the first teenager helped through the window and into Martin Kemp’s arms has been in touch with Shapers of the 80s to admit ownership of that handbag after all these years. She is Janet Gargan who still lives in the area and, naturally, is planning to see the band at Liverpool’s Echo Arena next March on their 2015 tour.

She emailed saying: “I had no idea your pic ever existed or that anyone remembered the drainpipe incident. Until recently, it had remained a family story but just goes to show your past can haunt you at any time. This really has been a blast from the past. I was at school at the time and I climbed up there with my school friend Jeanette, although it’s been many years since I’ve seen her.

Spandau Ballet, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Empire theatre, Liverpool, Swinging 80s, fans,

Triumph! Jan tells her friends she and Jeanette made it into Spandau Ballet’s dressing room at the Empire, 1982. Snapped by © Shapersofthe80s

“I wanted to meet Tony Hadley and my friend was crazy about Martin Kemp. I do remember the boys being in complete shock about what we had done and signed all our merchandise. They gave us a drink (soft of course!) and sent us on our way – not down the drainpipe thankfully! I have thought in recent years how utterly gentlemanly they all were and very kind to us.”

The second climber Jeanette fell into the arms of sax-player Steve Norman. He retells the story on ITV’s recent bio-show True Gold: “We heard this tapping noise at the window and this girl had climbed the drainpipe to get a look at the band two floors up.” Tony Hadley adds: “It was like being the Beatles – mass hysteria.”

To cap it all, Jan has another revelation to make. “Spandau Ballet played in Liverpool again during the True tour of 1983 when the same friend and I left the concert early and headed to the Atlantic Tower hotel where we knew they were staying. Lots of fans turned up there but we befriended two elderly guests of the hotel who took us in under the guise of being ‘grand-daughters’. We were so worried about our cover being blown that we jumped into the lift of the hotel as fast as we could and as the doors closed we turned around to find the band in the lift! It was Tony Hadley who recognised us and said ‘You are the two girls who climbed the drainpipe last year!’ This was definitely a crazy experience but all true. It’d be great to know if the band remember that encounter too.”

Looking back now, Jan describes those adventures as hilarious though fraught with sheer determination. “It wasn’t unusual for me to go to great lengths to meet people at that time. The same friend and I also met Depeche Mode when they played Liverpool in the 80s – yes, staying in the same hotel. They were supported by Matt Fretton and we sat in the hotel having a chat with the band when a lady came out of the function room and asked if we would all like to join their party for her daughter’s 18th! Of course it would have been rude not too!”

Today Jan the ardent pop fan makes her living as a social worker and, according to a friend, “spends all her time helping other people”. For professional reasons she did not want her photograph to be published and, even though I thought I’d found her on Facebook, this turns out to be somebody else of the same name.

Spandau Ballet, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Atlantic Tower hotel, John Keeble, Martin Kemp, Liverpool, Swinging 80s, fans,

Mobbed again a year later, 1983: Martin Kemp and John Keeble sign autographs through the fence at the back of Spandau’s Liverpool hotel. Snapped by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: More on 8 May 1982 – the return of The Scream to British pop

➢ 1982, How Spandau put Peter Capaldi on the road to play the new Doctor Who

➢ Jan 17 update: Shock change to Spandau Ballet’s North America live tour 2015 – Spandau’s world still tour kicks off 23–25 Jan in California, but with other US and Canada concert dates rescheduled for April–May. The European leg kicks off in Dublin 3 March. Click through for complete list

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How James Brown revolutionised music and became the voice for Black America

James Brown, Chris Sullivan, funk, biopic

James Brown live at the Apollo, 1962: “When I said ‘Die on your feet don’t live on your knees’, I became Soul Brother Number One”


➢ British deejay and commentator Chris Sullivan describes how the Godfather of Funk became the most successful African-American musician of the 20th century – at Alpha, the men’s lifestyle magazine:

Almost every owner of a TV or radio in the world has danced to James Brown’s inimitable grooves at some point in the last half century, even if they don’t know it. Recently, producer-songwriter Pharrell Williams sampled Brown’s hit My Thang on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 2011 single Gotta Have It, while his 1970 hit Funky Drummer has been sampled a record 929 times. Altogether Brown’s tunes have been sampled 4,500 times by everyone from Eric B and Rakim to Public Enemy. Accordingly, I’d contest that he is the most influential single recording artist of all time.

“James Brown is magic,” declared an awe-struck Michael Jackson. “I’ve never dared speak to him, but I consider James Brown my greatest teacher.” Meanwhile Mick Jagger, who spent hours watching him as a youngster, admitted to “trying to steal everything I could,” from the master. . . / Continued at Alpha Magazine

➢ The whitewashing of James Brown: Why were all the producers, writers and the director white on the new movie Get On Up? – At the Huffington Post

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1980–2014 ➤ Ten inspirational reminders from the 80s to stir today’s young to action

Waldorf Hotel, Spandau Ballet, Blitz club, New Romantics, youth culture,Blitz Kids , To Cut a Long Story Short, London, clubbing, DJs,

Waldorf Hotel 1980: seated at centre, Spandau Ballet, house band of Covent Garden’s Blitz club, home of the New Romantics movement, plus support team of Blitz Kids who helped put their first single To Cut a Long Story Short into the UK singles chart at No 5, on 6 Dec 1980. Average age 20, everyone had a specific role to play in staging and promoting the band: seven musicians, six designers, three media and management, three club-hosts, two DJs, one crimper and 22 egos. Photographed for the Evening Standard © by Herbie Knott

◼ TEN OF THE MOST POPULAR POSTS visited here during 2014 confirm Shapers of the 80s as an “invaluable website” in the words of British historian Dominic Sandbrook. Grounded in the 1980s – the most explosive decade for British youth culture since the Swinging 60s – our eye witness reports and monthly reviews of British nightlife were originally published in magazines such as The Face, the “style bible” of its day. Our recent commentaries monitor fresh interest in the revival of 80s music and attitude during the past five years. Year-ending visit figures at Shapers of the 80s during 2014 have increased year-on-year by 16% to total 210,000.

Much unseen vintage video footage was discovered by the producers researching Spandau Ballet’s biopic, Soul Boys of the Western World, which proved an eye-opening slice of social history when it was released this year. Every frame reveals the sheer energy and commitment to hedonism and creative self-expression that characterised a generation of school-leavers who in the economic gloom of 1979 faced the threat of no jobs ever in their adult lives. The parallels with Britain’s protracted austerity today are obvious and we might hope the lessons of the 80s will again inspire the young to take their fate into their own hands.

TEN BENCHMARKS FROM THE SWINGING 80S

Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open a Top of the Pops performance of Wham Rap! in another window … In the original music video (no longer viewable in the UK !!) “man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the video, pictured, by reading our landmark Face cover story on The Making of UK Club Culture, now reproduced at Shapers of the 80s. (Screengrab © Sony BMG)

➢ Read: 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture

Blitz Kids, No Sacrifice, Chenil gallery,Kim Bowen, Jeremy Healy, Stephen Jones, fashion, London

No Sacrifice was an alternative fashion show in 1980 organised by Iain R Webb and mounted for art-school refusés: outside Chelsea’s Chenil Gallery, Kim Bowen as ever sports a hat by Stephen Jones (right), Jeremy Healy at centre. Photographed © by Mick Hurd

➢ Who’s who among the Blitz Kids: 50 crucial nightclubbers who set the style for a decade

Terry Doktor , Carmel Johnson, Rhonda Paster, Axiom, fashion Underground club, Spandau Ballet, gig

New York 1981: Before Spandau Ballet introduced America to electro-diskow at Manhattan’s Underground club, the Axiom fashion cooperative staged a runway show of New Romantic outfits. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, first Blitz invasion of the US by Spandau/Axiom

London,Sullivan,Dirt Box, Mud Club,Wag club,White Trash,Sallon,Nightlife ,The Face,Swinging 80s, clubbing

First published in The Face No 39, July 1983

➢ 1983, Who’s who in the new London nightlife boom

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road in London by Steve Johnston

➢ 1980, ‘Your own i-D counts more than fashion’

Blitz club, London 1979, Iain Webb, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth,

Real Blitz Kids versus the TV version: George’s boyfriend Wilf and Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy

➢ 1983, Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace

➢ Six rewrites punk history with an outlandish claim about the Not-Really-From-Bromley Contingent

➢ 1982, “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

➢ 2014, Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet biopic premiering at SXSW

➢ 2009 till now – Index of all posts at Shapers of the 80s

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