Category Archives: London

➤ Rock god Lovatt exits TV talent show with charisma intact

Jamie Lovatt, rock music

The performance: Jamie Lovatt gives his all on The Voice, March 8 © BBC

❚ THAT’S THE WAY TALENT CONTESTS CRUMBLE. One minute you’re flavour of the week. The next, you’re out. That’s the way Saturday primetime TV crumbles too. The show is called The Voice. It’s not called The Star. So although glam-rocker Jamie Lovatt radiated tons more charisma than the awkward bloke from the pub, Chris Royal, who was wearing his Auntie Mabel’s pinafore under his jacket, the bloke won this week’s vocalists face-off because apparently, according to coach Ricky Wilson, you “can’t learn the kind of emotion he can portray in a song”. (Even while wearing a pinafore and a twat-Kevin baseball cap back to front. In 2014! Per-lease!)

The pair were billed as Emotion vs Power and powerhouse Jamie was sent packing back to his band Romance, whose bookings have suddenly sky-rocketed thanks to his TV appearances, so that can’t be bad. Pop goddess Kylie did bid him goodbye saying: “Everybody’s going to fall in love with you. You already have it all. Run with it.” Fact is, Jamie has all the attitude to be the next Adam Lambert and a better rock voice than the falsetto bloke from the pub, so long as he chooses better rock songs by real rock writers than the Adele number he nobly had to get his vocal cords round on Saturday night.

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After Ricky the coach had passed verdict on which of his two protégés was staying in the contest, he totally bottled out of making eye contact with Jamie in their kissy-huggy moment of parting, and mumbled one of those reality-show platitudes: “Life is made of big decisions. You made a really big decision. I had to make one too.” He did look choked, to be fair for one second, but he did also look like the man who drowns kittens in a sack, and turned away utterly shame-faced. The best bit was Jamie’s flouncy exit during which the other three judges beamed benignly behind him and couldn’t take their eyes off his defiant strut.

Today, Jamie posted this equally defiant new cover of Paul Weller’s Brand New Start, videoed beneath chintz lampshades while perched on a cushion. Two fingers up to suburbia.

➢ Catch up on Saturday’s battle between Chris and Jamie who perform first on The Voice – on BBC iPlayer until April 12

➢ New UK gig dates at the website of Jamie’s band Romance

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: The Voice’s rock god Lovatt surprises Britain and shocks himself

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➤ Warts-and-all revelations now that Spandau want the truth to be known

Soul Boys of the Western World, Spandau Ballet, trailer, SWSW, premiere,biopic, pop music, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,

The defeated Norman, Keeble and Hadley outside the law court 1999: “You can see on our faces Spandau Ballet had just come to an end”

Soul Boys of the Western World, Spandau Ballet, trailer, SWSW, premiere,biopic, pop music, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,Gary Kemp, Tony Hadley

Hell freezes over as an interviewer asks: “Gary, you’ve been referred to as the driving force. What is the input of the others in the group?” Tony Hadley: “Ah-ha-ha!”

❚ WHAT A HAIR-SHIRT OF A TRAILER! Nettlesome would be a good word for the first glimpse we’ve been given this week of Soul Boys of the Western World, the warts-and-all biopic about the rise and fall (and rise again) of Spandau Ballet, which premieres next week at SXSW in Texas. The trailer rattles through the glorious birth pangs of a new fashion-and-music scene in the 80s and screeches to a standstill at the gaping open wound when the band decided in 1989 they really didn’t like each other any more.

➢ Click to view the trailer of
Soul Boys of the Western World

For 20 icy seconds hairs rise on the back of your neck. A direct question in a TV interview blows a hole in Spandau’s credibility – Tony Hadley simply laughs. Before a another interviewer, the Kemp brothers dissemble about their acting ambitions. After a battle over money, three band members leave the law court defeated. And lifelong friendships wither before our eyes. John Keeble said this year: “It’s very honest and very difficult. It’s a film about redemption.” By God, it had better be.

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Spandau confirms live reunion gig in Texas – for a tiny elite!

Soul Boys of the Western World, Spandau Ballet, trailer, SWSW, premiere,biopic, pop music, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,

“These guys talk funny, right?” – Best of friends since their schooldays, Spandau Ballet star on Soul Train in 1985, at the height of their American fame

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2014 ➤ Tweets that tell the tale of Spandau Ballet’s road to Redemption

Spandau Ballet, film, Soul Boys of The Western World, pop music, George Hencken, SXSW, premiere,reunion,

Director of the Spandau movie, George Hencken, tweets: “No better way to spend Wednesday afternoon than watching @SpandauBallet in rehearsal. Texas here we come!”

❚ REUNITED FOR THE FIRST TIME in three years, the five men who fronted the New Romantic sounds of 1980 started rehearsals this week. Spandau Ballet were gearing up for their return to the live stage in the US on March 12 as part of the promotion for the biopic about their rise, Soul Boys of The Western World, which is being premiered at the SXSW Festival in Texas.

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Martin Kemp – What an amazing way to spend a day! SpandauBallet rehearsal room was rocking today!

George Hencken as Henckenstein – First time I’ve been in a room with all the boys together. I can’t lie. It was emotional.

John Keeble – My irreplaceable Paiste 3000 24″ Ride. Over a quarter of a Century of Grooves!

Steve Norman – Another fab day at the office.

Gary Kemp – Looking forward to playing in the Lou Reed tribute concert on 14th March in @sxsw. Spandau delivering a peach from Transformer.

SPOT THE LEITMOTIF… ‘REDEMPTION’

Spandau Ballet, film, Soul Boys of The Western World, pop music, SXSW, premiere,reunion,BBC 6Music, interview, Matt Everitt

News hound Matt Everitt interviewing Spandau in rehearsals last Monday – “Such great hair going on in that photo”. (Where’s Big Tone? Hadders was unwell that day)

➢ Listen to this morning’s Spandau feature on BBC 6Music – Matt Everitt interviews band members on their return to the live stage (scroll forward to 1h 44m)

Songwriter Gary Kemp on the documentary film: “It’s warts and all. There are some tough bits because we went through a smash-up, and that’s all there on the screen. But there’s also redemption.”

Drummer John Keeble: “It’s very honest and very difficult. Life comes at you. There was no point in telling the story and airbrushing it. We grew up together, we explored the world together and we fell out – badly. It’s about redemption.”

What next, Martin? “We’ll see! There’s a couple of surprises along the way, coming up.”

redemption / rɪˈdɛm(p)ʃ(ə)n: “The action of saving or being saved from sin”

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Spandau confirms one-off live reunion gig in Texas – for a tiny elite!

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet movie Soul Boys of The Western World

Spandau Ballet, film, Soul Boys of The Western World, pop music, George Hencken, SXSW, premiere,reunion, John Keeble

Rock god and his gong: John Keeble twit-picced by sax man Steve Norman

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➤ The Voice’s rock god Lovatt surprises Britain and shocks himself

Jamie Lovatt

Moment of triumph on The Voice Feb 22: Kylie, Will, Ricky and Tom (in there somewhere), all wanting a piece of Jamie Lovatt. Screengrab © BBC

➢ Watch Jamie’s Voice performance in full plus the judges’ verdicts on BBC iPlayer until April 12 (scroll to 58 minutes)

❚ “I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS GOING to turn round and see this rock god dude!” said Kylie Monogue on The Voice UK on Saturday night. The dude in question had delivered his own steady but highly emotional and emphatically rock reinterpretation of Rozalla’s acid house smash Everybody’s Free to his own twangy Rickenbacker guitar. By his hollering climax the studio audience were on their feet and two of The Voice’s four celebrity coaches had spun their chairs in hopes of recruiting him: superstar Kylie Minogue and Ricky Wilson (“the bloke from Kaiser Chiefs”). Within minutes the dude had opted to join Ricky’s team as its final member, before the BBC TV talent contest’s real battles begin next week.

An hour after transmission he posted on Facebook: “Who saw me then eh? SURPRISE.” Jamie Lovatt, cocky 24-year-old face about Shoreditch where he runs a bar, was back. The frontman for the once glam-goth band Romance, since restyled as tribal “cabaret rockers”, had definitely stolen the show, even though the acts auditioning blind on Saturday were a cut above previous weeks, because most proved to be seasoned performers with terrific voices. This dude also looked like nobody else within miles – an eyeful of androgynous 80s glam, Jamie sported long blond hippy hair and eyeliner, a gold crocheted clingy top, snakeskin trousers and cowboy boots. His style is a fusion of Prince, Billy Idol and the 80s postpunk shamanists Death Cult, though the TV audience was spared his usual stage gambit of performing shirtless.

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For those of us who’ve known Jamie since he deejayed in London’s fashionable Neo Romantic clubs, the fierce TV act was a surprise metamorphosis from the once shy teenager (off-stage!), through the frenetic vocalist onstage with Romance, to this assured showcase cover version bursting with intense feeling which Kylie and the other coaches sensed immediately. Almost 90 seconds into the number, Ricky hit the voting button and six seconds later Kylie followed.

She was full of admiration: “I liked the emotion in your voice. I don’t know if you always sing like that but the fact that you have the ability to sing like that is very moving.”

What set Jamie’s interview apart was the sadness that brimmed within him as he told how Romance’s first lineup had been torpedoed by ill health and their four-album record deal was cancelled when the label dropped the band in 2011. “I lost management, I lost everything.” But not his faith to carry on.

The coaches rallied. Will-i-am said: “As far as getting dropped, guess what? They lost.” And the audience cheered. Tom Jones paid a couple of quiet complements that were evidently heartfelt. Ricky had been there himself: “I know what you’ve been through. I’m in a band… and we lost a record deal.” Lucky Jamie was able to pick which team to join and as he stepped from the stage it was noticeable how all four coaches crowded in for a piece of him. He’d been dignified, determined and, incredibly, said “Thank you” more times than you’d expect from a self-declared “lone wolf” rocker.

Some think a shiny-floor TV talent show might undermine a rock singer’s credibility, but Jamie is a 21st-century man and believes it’s the only way to crack the industry these days. He told The Sun: “People don’t think of someone like Jagger or Jim Morrison going on these shows but if you were to take them at the age they were discovered and have them living now, would that happen?”

Today was spent doing the rounds of the media as a hot TV property. What’s the question they were all asking? Answer: “How did it feel?” Jamie told Shapersofthe80s: “All I can say is it was surreal then, and from all the support I have received, it’s even more surreal now! Absolutely overwhelming, humbling and shocking. I can’t thank everyone enough… Didn’t think this would happen at all. I’m really moved!”

➢ Catch Jamie Lovatt and his new “glam-noir” lineup Romance Mk2 playing live in London during March and April

EVERYBODY’S FREE: BRIEF CLIP FROM THE VOICE

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➤ Blue Rondo’s fat has been a long time a-chewing but May is now the month

Blue Rondo à la Turk,Chris Sullivan,remix, ,British, Latin-funk,1980s, dance music,

Me and Mr Sanchez: 1981’s debut chart hit for Blue Rondo à la Turk with cover art by former Wag club host Chris Sullivan

❚ PROMISES! PROMISES! All-round clubbing maestro Chris Sullivan has been faffing away for a year since he got his hands on the original master-tapes of his stand-out Latin-funk dance-band of 1982, Blue Rondo à la Turk. Going public on Facebook today, he dares to promise a re-release of their first album Chewing The Fat this spring (having originally mooted it for last spring), meanwhile posting online a punchy fresh mix of their debut chart single, Me and Mr Sanchez.

Sullivan said: “This is a remix we’ve done for our forthcoming bonus remix CD to accompany the first ever CD release of Blue Rondo’s first album Chewing The Fat on May 5.” Then comes the killer punch: “We’re looking to license it to a TV company for the World Cup… any ideas? It’s a no brainer and the original was used in Brazil by Globo TV for the 1982 World Cup but this is a better mix.”

A year ago he was downloading the whole Rondo catalogue fresh off the original tapes, saying: “First time anyone will have heard them digitally – other than disc dubs, of course. Looking back and listening to the tunes (especially the Heavens are Crying mix) what astonishes me is the f***-you-we’ll-do-our-thing approach.”

Since then Sullivan has released a handful of mixes from the putative new album, including an earlier mix of Mr Sanchez about which he acknowledged that the dean of swing, ex-Rondo guitarist Mark Reilly, “did the lion’s share”.

➢ Blue Rondo breathe fresh life into Mr Sanchez

➢ A brighter Bluer Rondo for the 20-tweens

➢ Sullivan and his hinterland 1982–2012

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