Tag Archives: New Romantics

1978–87 ➤ British nightlife snapped by Ridgers as it came out of the closet

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Underground publicity: Derek Ridgers with lavish poster treatment for his photo-book published jointly by Damiani and Transport for London. (Pic by Shapersofthe80s)

❚ THIS FRIDAY AT THE V&A MUSEUM, London photographer Derek Ridgers will try to explain the power of his touching yet confrontational images of London youth taken in the transformational decade of the 1980s. His newly published book 78–87 London Youth can be viewed online. He is best known for these documentary portraits taken on the streets and in the clubs by night, though he has also snapped celebs from James Brown to The Spice Girls, Clint Eastwood to Johnny Depp, as well as Tony Blair, gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser, artist Julian Schnabel, writer Martin Amis, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and more.

The recessionary 70s had precipitated a drone age of rocketing unemployment in the UK, threatening no jobs for school-leavers, ever. Yet from this black hole burst a passionately tribal youth culture that was to create the Swinging 80s, an era of optimism, marked by hedonistic good times and a flair for exhibitionism that played up to Derek’s camera. Ambition and self-improvement were the ultimate goals of the young then, in sharp contrast to the cynical narcissism of today’s lost children.

➢ Derek Ridgers talks on photographing the 80s at the V&A’s late evening, 6.30pm Friday July 18, with yours truly in the chair. Derek will be signing his book afterwards

London,Sacrosanct,  Billie Madley , Twinkle Bunty, Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Twinkle Bunty comments on this Sacrosanct club pic by Ridgers posted at Facebook: “Just trotted over to Foyles and bought Derek Ridgers’ fab new book. Thrilled to find this pic from 1985 of me and Billie Madley proving that the 80s were ALL about the eyebrows. Mine were jet black Rimmel and Billie’s were red BIRO.” Another from ‪Laura Whitcomb: “When you shaved that eyebrow it was epic… That Westwood shirt and suit and of course those ear muffs your obsession – and the inimitable final touch of a Fosters with a baby blue straw.” Plastic bath cap: Billie’s own.

❚ IN OCTOBER 1982, I INTERVIEWED DEREK RIDGERS while writing the massive survey of London’s newly exploding nightlife phenomenon which became The Face’s cover story, The making of UK club culture in February 1983. Direct from my original notes, here is Derek’s perceptive analysis which helped inform my thinking about the turmoil that was transforming British youth culture…

Derek talking: “The depression of the late 70s made the future oh so inevitable. But from the Blitz club period onward [1979], the feeling has been different. A reaction of ambisexual kitsch. It’s an honesty with the way you look and what you want to do. There’s an enthusiasm to investigate the possibilities. There’s no sense of inevitability.

“As a photographer, I go as the casual observer and stand in the shadows. When I first went to those Tuesday nights at Billy’s [1978] it was like walking into a Hieronymous Bosch painting – furtive but lively, very decadent reflecting what they were into, and yet with a sense of oneness, a dedication that’s never been equalled since.”

In 1980 the Blitz leaders had moved on to another Covent Garden club called Hell which Derek said “was similar but more decadent because they tried to keep it to themselves. In its final weeks, only out-of-towners were going to the Blitz, because by then the media had blown away the furtiveness”.

Click any pic to launch slideshow

In 1982 Steve Strange and Rusty Egan began fronting the 1,600-capacity Camden Palace and the Pose Age went public. Ridgers said then: “At the Palace poses are adopted, yet it’s probably more interesting than the Blitz or Billy’s because it’s more honest… 90% are regulars, 9% out-of-towners, and 1% could be any type of person who’ll choose to go clubbing there, but go nowhere else except their own pub. Sometimes they’re out of their depth and try to dress as they think is expected – they bring with them an unconsidered primitiveness.

“Men are wearing dresses now but not pretending to be women. They are proud to be men – that’s fairly modern.” In autumn 1982 Boy George was in the charts with Culture Club’s first single. “George wants to look pretty, rather than handsome. He asks me whether I find him attractive and I have to pretend he’s a girl and give him an appraisal – which I don’t mind. I don’t feel threatened.”

“What’s important at the Palace is feeling special, being noticed – in a sea of other people. A good club has become a place to go for the right social reasons, rather than just to hang out.”

➢ View more Ridgers portfolio at his website

ESSENTIAL READS

➢ Blitz kids and the birth of the New Romantics – my overview for the Observer Music Magazine

➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture
– for The Face magazine, here at Shapersofthe80s

Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Cover star Tuinol Barry photographed by Derek Ridgers in 1983. Sadly, Barry was to die young.

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2009 till now ➤ Archive of posts at Shapersofthe80s

❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer.
➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click

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➤ Another emotional gem on Spandau’s long walk to freedom

Soul Boys of the Western World, interview, Spandau Ballet, SXSW, Austin, premiere, movie, pop music,

Spandau Ballet’s post-gig interview at SXSW in Texas: Steve Norman finds the humour in St John Keeble’s healing homilies

❚ NOT TO BE MISSED! Freshly posted at YouTube is yet another heart-on-sleeve prequel to Spandau Ballet’s promised Reconciliation and Redemption tour. A group interview on video unexpectedly becomes a very moving and positive expression of the band’s solidarity as friends. Famously “sticky moments” from the kamikaze wrecking of the band at the height of its success and the atomic fall-out during the 90s are glancingly referred to in the spirit of mild self-flagellation. The five musicians who defined Britain’s New Romantic movement are discussing Soul Boys of the Western World, their warts-and-all documentary biopic premiered last month at SXSW, the cool new-media festival at Austin in Texas.

“The film is pretty honest and hard for us to watch at times,” says songwriter Gary Kemp. “You can see in the film I was a bit precious.”

“That Kray twin moment [a reference to the Kemps making a feature film about the Krays in 1990]: for me that’s really embarrassing cos me and Gary’s answer is really conceited, but that’s who we were at the time,” says brother and bass player Martin. “The film lets us examine where we went wrong.”

SOUL BOYS SET FOR CANNES

The Spandau Ballet documentary that proved a hit at SXSW in March, is to be screened to buyers at the ➢ Cannes Marché next month, handled by UK sales company Metro International

“We’re human, we didn’t always get it right, we were young kids thrust into the limelight,” says singer Tony Hadley.

“We went through that terrible time facing each other in court at one point,” says instrumentalist Steve Norman. “It was awful. I put my saxophone on the top shelf and didn’t want anything to do with it for about four or five years cos it was symbolic of Spandau.”

Throughout the interview St John of the Drums emerges as the Kentish Town savant with a healing prayer for the sins that destroyed lifelong friendships between the five soulboys. “You can’t be revisionist,” Keeble observes. “It was a major thing when we got back together five years ago. You cannot unknow stuff that’s gone on but I think everyone felt in their hearts that it was now better to focus on the future. The whole world’s still in front of us.”

Click any pic to launch slideshow

➢ Why the trailer for Soul Boys of the Western
World stops you in your tracks

What’s sad from a fan’s perspective is that the live gig in Texas which followed the film’s screening was the first and only time Spandau have played together since their year-long Reformation tour ended in 2010. That comeback tour was a sensational success, just as this gig has proved to be. The video interviewer, writer Lori Majewski, called Spandau a formidable live band: “I was surprised how tight you guys were, how great the live show was!” Entertainment Weekly reported the gig exuding “a rare atmosphere for a very youth-centrict fest, and a truly inspired musical moment – not bad for a bunch of fifty-somethings”.

The documentary has received keen reviews for its sole use of vintage footage and director George Hencken’s intelligent deployment of the band’s hit tunes from the 80s. The SXSW interview also reveals that at the 1985 Live Aid concert Steve Norman shot some under-cover footage backstage where cameras officially weren’t allowed. John Keeble remarks on the amount of original footage in their movie which the band themselves had never seen before – much shot by Martin Kemp as a Super8 enthusiast – while there’s plenty more footage that didn’t make the cut. So come on, lads. Let’s stage a premiere for the Spandau out-takes.

Click on video title above, then scroll to No 7 in the playlist

❏ This meeting of travellers at a crossroads in Austin has all the signs of a mystical resurrection sent from heaven, yet we’re told a Spandau tour is unlikely to happen this side of New Year. How patient must fans be? They had to wait three years for this film to be finished, having evolved naturally from a gifted film-maker recording the Reformation tour.

Two superb books on Spandau have been in preparation for years: one, a smart limited edition photobook, still awaits a strategic publication date to support a career jump-start.

The other was commissioned ten years ago, yes ten, in a wishful gesture of reconciliation while band members roamed the wilderness of solo careers. The showbiz writer Paul Simper was rightly deemed the only person qualified and trusted to capture the fascinating inside story of Spandau Ballet. His manuscript was revised five years ago to boost the Reformation tour, then publication was postponed in order to embrace the selfsame Reformation tour. His gripping text is far more thorough than many rock biogs because of the extraordinary times it describes and the wide-ranging context his research has captured. Currently, Simper is re-retuning his words which could become the book-of-the-film – once the film is given a release date. “Hearing the band talk so eloquently and emotionally gives me new impetus,” he said today. “It’s thrilling to hear them looking to the future.”

For the fans camped at the tiny Oasis of Hope, the road to truth and reconciliation for the band who’ve been pals since schooldays is a long one, as it has been for post-apartheid South Africa, and for Ireland since partition. But y’know, those two were nations with histories riven by British politics. Not a chart-topping pop group. Why doesn’t somebody ask Jerry for his Final Word then we can all get back to the music?

SPANDAU BALLET LIVE AT SXSW 2014

AND AT THE LOU REED TRIBUTE AT SXSW

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Curtain up on Spandau’s rollercoaster saga of war and peace

CHEEKY CHAPPIES: THE WAY THEY WERE IN ’81

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➤ Calling fashionistas for their tales of Spandau Ballet in the New Romantic 80s

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

IS THIS YOU? May 8, 1982: 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

❚ WERE YOU A FAN of Spandau Ballet in the 1980s? Here’s an appeal for your experiences from a reputable documentary film-maker…

We are looking to speak to people who lived through the early years of the band’s success in the 80s for a BBC 4 documentary on the history of music and fashion in post-war Britain.

We are particularly interested in hearing from people who took fashion inspiration from them and the New Romantics scene and may still have some clothing from that period. If you can identify with this and wouldn’t mind speaking to a member of the team about your experiences please contact Lucy Joyner: ljoyner [ a t ] oxfordscientificfilms.tv

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,  1982, Diamond Tour, Martin Kemp, fans, Gary Kemp,Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Peter Capaldi

Unrivalled adulation in the early 80s: Tony Hadley faces the audience during Spandau Ballet’s Diamond tour of 1982. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

DID YOU WITNESS POP HISTORY IN THE MAKING?

❏ Who are the two Liverpool music fans so keen to meet their idols that they shinned the drainpipe at the Empire theatre leading to the dressing room of Spandau Ballet, Britain’s premier New Romantic band of the 80s? After knocking on the window, the girls achieved their goal when bass player Martin Kemp helped them to safety inside.

The year was 1982. Spandau’s seventh single Instinction had put them on Top of the Pops during Easter week and sales were rocketing. The night of May 8, towards the end of Spandau’s first nationwide tour, with stand-up comedian Peter Capaldi in support, has become known as The Return of the Scream. The moment the house lights dimmed, a mighty roar lifted the roof off the Empire, the city’s legendary music venue. It didn’t stop for 75 minutes. The band hadn’t heard anything so intense and were visibly shaken when they came offstage. Guitarist Gary Kemp said in disbelief: “I had to stop playing. I couldn’t hear my own monitor.”

What we had all witnessed was the return of the true teenybop scream, the continuous bellow from the lungs, little heard since the days of the Beatles. Security men and women were clearly caught out by the pandemonium as they wrestled to persuade the screamers back to their seats. One Empire veteran said that night he’d heard nothing like it since the Bay City Rollers in the mid-1970s.

A crowd of at least 500 fans surrounded the stage door afterwards and a shadow had only to fall across a dressing-room window for the scream to start again in the street. Two girls then decided to shin the drainpipe and beat the second-storey window with their handbags until they were let in.

Police with batons eventually arrived and the band managed to escape through the front doors of the theatre, but only after two decoy departures had been staged. Even so, in the murderous dash through the crowd packing the pavement, saxophonist Steve Norman lost a bracelet and singer Tony Hadley a chunk of his scalp. As their coach pulled away, I was stranded on the kerb photographing the mayhem.

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Liverpool Empire, 1982, Diamond Tour, Martin Kemp, fans, Gary Kemp,Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Peter Capaldi

Inside the Liverpool Empire, May 8, 1982: fans shocked security staff with the roar that greeted Spandau Ballet. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

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➢ An early Spandau Ballet date at the Scala cinema described above in The Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics – in the Observer Music Magazine 2009

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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, “Ah-ha-ha!” 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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