Category Archives: Australasia

➤ A big red hand please for this tiny rare fish!

Red Handfish ,Thymichthys politus,

Pushy little Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus) © Michael Baron, Eaglehawk Dive Centre

DIVERS HAVE DISCOVERED a new population of what may be the world’s rarest fish, possibly doubling the number believed to exist. Only 20 to 40 of the critically endangered Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus) were thought to live off the coast of Tasmania, Australia. Instead of swimming, the strange little fish scuttles along the seabed on four red pectoral fins that look like hands. Another population of at least eight fish a few miles away was announced this week by a team from IMAS and the Reef Life Survey (RLS) at the University of Tasmania. More detail on video here:

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2014 ➤ Spandau Ballet’s world tour reunion updates

New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Heaven Club, London, Swinging 80s, Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet’s tenth live date: playing Heaven in London 1980. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

SCREENINGS OF THEIR SOUL BOYS BIO-PIC

pop music, George Hencken, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, movie, biopic,New Romantics, Blitz Kids
✱ Read Shapersofthe80s’ review of the SBWW film and its UK premiere, plus European screening dates, Oct–Nov 2014

✱ Hello Down Under! Auckland NZ 2 Nov, Melbourne 5 Nov and Sydney 7 Nov for special Q&A screenings of SBWW, plus live performance in Melbourne

✱ Spandau’s first public appearance in NYC since 1983, plus US release of their new single This Is The Love, plus outdoor mini-concert in LA for their TV debut with Jimmy Kimmel 10 Nov… plus live performance on Fox’s Good Day Nov 13… Plus SBWW screening 15 Nov at SVA Theatre, premiere and band talk at Doc NYC

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, cancellations, rescheduled, US tour, dates

Hadley sings True: Spandau live at London’s Albert Hall, 2014. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ SPANDAU’S 2015 LIVE TOUR DATES IN ONE LIST

✱ North America tickets on sale 14 Nov from San Francisco 23 Jan to Red Bank NY 10 Feb and in between LA, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Boston, NYC, Westbury, Washington DC . . . Extra concert added 24 Jan at The Wiltern in Los Angeles . . . Extra concert added 2 Feb in Montreal (on sale 27 Nov).

17 Jan 2015 update – Shock change to Spandau Ballet’s North America live tour – still launching 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.

✱ Now on sale: tickets for 13 dates 3–19 March in Spandau Ballet’s live UK tour 2015, kicking off 3 March from Dublin in the land of music, now taking in TWO London dates at O2 Arena 17–18 March, and ending in Brummie Duran-land

First dates on live European tour 2015: Amsterdam 21 March, Luxembourg 22 March, Italy 24–30 March (Assago, Torino, Padova, Firenze, Roma), Germany 16–22 April (Leipzig, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich)

✱ Down under: Auckland, NZ 10 May tickets on sale 20 Nov… Oz on sale Nov 12: Spandau’s Australia concert tour 2015 kicks off in Brisbane 13 May, playing also Sydney, Melbourne and Perth

✱ Weekly: Big Tone’s party show Saturdays 7–9pm GMT on Absolute 80s Radio, on air and online


➢ First US review of the new single This Is the Love at Billboard: “Thirty years after Spandau Ballet’s last U.S. single, the British new-wave quintet brings back everything that made it danceable on This Is the Love, touting a thick sax, Tony Hadley’s syrup-and-silk delivery and poppy drum work. The twist? There’s also a James Bond theme vibe mixed in.” – Andrew Flanagan … 8 Nov Martin Kemp tweets: “Billboard single of the week in the U.S.”

SPANDAU INTERVIEWED IN NEW ZEALAND, 2 NOV


➢ Or, read a transcription of the above interview with New Zealand’s arts website, The 13th Floor – Here’s Tony Hadley on how life was different when he was a teenager: “The 80s was probably the last innocent decade in a kind of weird way, pretty primitive, you know. In Britain we had three TV channels. As a young person, you had music and you had fashion. So everything was pretty tribal and we’ve always been like that in Britain anyway, with the Mods, the Rockers, psychedelia, punk. So you picked your tribe and the kind of music you wanted to be associated with and that was it – it was just a simple time. We’ve now entered into a period where social media and connectivity around the world is unprecedented, incredible. So as a young person, you don’t necessarily need just fashion and just music. It’s a very different world we live in.”

➢ 1980: Read the epic story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer

➢ Official Spandau Ballet website

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➤ Soul Boys Spandau rise like a phoenix from the flames of their film premiere

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau Ballet: smart-casual on the red carpet

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau live at the Albert Hall: All six members of the band reunited, the sixth being manager Steve Dagger in the wings

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Royal Albert Hall: full house for Spandau’s premiere

◼︎ 6,000 PEOPLE WERE UP FOR an emotional roller-coaster ride at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday – hundreds more watched simulcasts in cinemas across the land. Today Rolling Stone has called it “the biggest home-movie party in British pop history”. We sped through yards of breathlessly cut vintage footage even the band hadn’t seen before, showing how five glammed-up school friends adopted the preposterous name Spandau Ballet and effectively rewrote the rules of a moribund pop industry to rocket into the charts and become one of Britain’s six supergroups of the New Romantic 80s…

We saw how their friendships turned nasty and imploded in a law court… and how they’ve agreed to make this film 20 years later in which each tells his own version “warts and all”, soul boys baring their souls in a cathartic process of reconciliation and redemption. Why, they’d even titled their home movie, Soul Boys of the Western World, ironically referencing one of theatre’s tragic morality tales about human failings, the greater irony being that the band themselves were actually shocked to hear each other’s words at the first screening. They were the film’s only narrators, recorded separately talking one-to-one with the director and telling the tale with more “crashing and burning” than tact.

Tuesday’s audience picked up these cues in pantomime tradition. We were bearing witness just as the penitent members of Spandau Ballet were hoping. We oohed and aahed at some really tear-jerky best bits. We howled at odd Spinal Tap daftness. We heckled the cocky Cockney TV presenter. We laughed at our quaint mullets and hilarious teenage pretensions four decades ago. Then when the screen froze in a silent moment of grim truth, the whole Albert Hall groaned “Ohhhh no!” One hero had been damned, but a succession of jaw-dropping out-takes from pop-idol interviews hanged the others in turn. Icicles formed in the air, Steve Norman’s voice told us “You can see on our faces Spandau Ballet has just come to an end” and we shared their pain. At times the spoken bluntness came too near the knuckle and between last spring’s hair-shirt trailer and this autumn premiere a couple of killer icicles have been chopped.

Click any pic to launch slideshow

Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, the yarn rattled along as a fascinating piece of social history, to a soundtrack deftly clipped from 22 Spandau numbers and a host of others that shaped the 80s. Tuesday’s melodrama came in three acts and we confessors gave the film a standing ovation, took a quick break to share our own shock at the band’s courage, and then rose to our feet again as the 6,000 to welcome onstage the happy smiling band of brothers, plus their equally glamorous film director, George Hencken, who had brought a woman’s instincts to handling the boys’ emotional baggage.

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World,

Soul Boys oWW reviewed by NME

Act 2 heard the team answer those burning questions live onstage, among them Gary Kemp saying “Yes, I’m the baddie”, and his brother Martin admitting disappointment in himself when young, while Tony Hadley said all the bitterness had weighed heavy on their families. There was plenty of humour too. When asked what he’d missed most since the great days, John Keeble said “the cheeseboard” (a reference to a backstage luxury specified in the band’s touring contract). Drummers, eh?

Act 3 was the equal of all that had come before. We rose to greet Spandau’s live set of six copper-bottomed hits, kicking off with their hymn of defiance, Through the Barricades, then sprinting into To Cut a Long Story Short. By Chant No 1 all six tiers of the Albert Hall were on their feet and cheering the dancefloor anthem that just missed being the chart No 1 in the riotous summer of 1981. Martin looked reassuringly relaxed powering its funky bassline, and Steve’s sax breaks were definitely dirtier than of old. In Only When You Leave Tony’s big balladeering vowels confirmed what a magnificent bel canto baritone he has become. And of course the last two classics, True and Gold, were inevitably hijacked by the choir filling the hall.

In words of the Eurovision winner, Spandau Ballet have risen from their ashes like a phoenix (fortunately without beards or frocks). We turn to our philosopher-drummer Keeble for the last word: “The film is a three-act play: guys have success, the wheels come off, then there’s some redemption. This now feels like fun and games – with love in it.” Gulp.

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau film premiere: Rock god Keeble photographed by Dave Hogan

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT SBWW

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Soul Boys oWW reviewed by Empire magazine

“More than a typical rock doc … the biggest home-movie party in British pop history” – David Fricke, Rolling Stone

“I found it gripping. Despite having never understood the appeal of the New Romantics, I enjoyed the hell out of Soul Boys of the Western World” – Observer film critic Mark Kermode on BBC-tv … “The mark of a really good rock documentary is that it makes you care about a band who played music that you were never a fan of” – Kermode again, on BBC News channel, picking his DVD of the week 24 Oct

“A funny, absorbing, trivia-filled portrait of friendship, the 80s music biz and bad hair” – Ian Freer, Empire Online

“The muscular musicianship of the band suggested that this latest stage of their reunion is more than just a nostalgia-wallow” – James Hall, Daily Telegraph

➢ Soul Boys of the Western World goes on general release 3 October, plus w/b Oct 20 screenings at Rome Film Festival and cinemas across Italy, Belgium’s Film Fest Gent… from Oct 27 Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, Pamplona… Plus, Nov 15 Spandau’s first public appearance in New York since 1983.

➢ Oct 20: tickets on sale today! Auckland NZ Nov 2, Melbourne Nov 5 and Sydney Nov 7 for special Q&A screenings of SBWW – Spandau Ballet are heading Down Under where the Melbourne screening will include a 20-minute live performance by the band.

➢ Plus Oct 24: Spandau’s first European tour dates announced: Amsterdam 21 March, Luxembourg live 22 March and a five-date Italian tour 24–30 March

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2012 ➤ February News Splurge at Shapersofthe80s

This post is being updated throughout the month

Blur, Brit Awards,pop music

Accidental reunion this month? Blur at the Brits in 1995 when they won four awards

“Blur reunion” scheduled for pre-Brit Awards fundraising gig — as reported at Live4ever: Blur members Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon will be among the special guests at this year’s Brit Awards party, which will take place at the Shepherds Bush Empire two nights before the official prize-giving ceremony (Tues Feb 21), aiming to raise money for the War Child charity. The two bandmates are then set to reunite on-stage with Alex James and Dave Rowntree at the Brit Awards event itself, when they will perform live after picking up the Outstanding Contribution gong… Deejay for the Brit Awards After Party at Indigo 2 is Rusty Egan.
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New Head of Central Saint Martins announced — From August 2012 Professor Jeremy Till is to be the next Head of Central Saint Martins within the University of the Arts London. Currently Dean of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster, he takes over from retiring head, Professor Jane Rapley OBE who took up the role in 2006.
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The Bedroom Philosopher and A Small Press cut the ribbon on The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries, Feb 17 at Trades Hall, Melbourne, Oz — The BPD is a collection of hilarious and melancholic reports from Justin Heazlewood’s (Frankie, Mess & Noise) experiences as a touring folkstar. Read about his epic battles with drunk punters, scatty rockstars, aloof groupies and mostly himself. Feb 17 is a literary danceathon featuring many guests, and of course the Boho Stripped Bare in conversation with himself: “Sometimes performing is like meeting yourself for the first time and not being that into it.” Buy BPD here
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✱ 10,000 tickets will be selected by ballot for a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace, celebrating The Queen’s 60-year reign. The Diamond Jubilee Concert will be produced by the BBC on June 4, 2012. Take That’s Gary Barlow is musical director and artists invited so far include Shirley Bassey, Alfie Boe, Jools Holland, Jessie J, JLS, Elton John, Tom Jones, Annie Lennox, Madness, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard and Ed Sheeran. Ticket applications are being received between Feb 7 and March 2, NOT first come first served.

Johnny Marr, Ray Ban, Raw Sounds, Dazed & Confused , interview, Polly Harvey✱ Guitar hero Johnny Marr has a tip-top new website … And in a video interview he’s thrilled to bits with the new Signature Jaguar he’s been developing with Fender — read more.
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Anything goes at Wearable Art, the London Fashion Week special at Egg, Feb 18, 22–10:00 — Hosted by Malice, Wearable Art promises a mélange of design and performance and music from London’s most fashion friendly and visual DJs including a Frequenza Records showcase with Alex D’Elia, Nihil Young and CJ Hartmann, Larry Tee, Jodie Harsh…
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Madonna’s 2012 World Tour starts Tel Aviv May 29, ends Atlanta GA Nov 17, calling at London July 17, Edinburgh July 21, Dublin July 24, NYC Sept 6 and LA Oct 10 … Madge, you’re a fool if you approve standing tickets for Hyde Park going on sale between £175 and £5,000 EACH! … Meanwhile 12-track edition of MDNA goes on sale March 26.

Lloyd Johnson, Modern Outfitter, exhibition, Chelsea Space

Lloyd Johnson Modern Outfitter exhibition, 2012: entrance to Johnson’s shop in Kensington Market from 1973 designed by Mojo Creative. On display, red leather-fronted ponyfur jacket, La Rocka 1984; gold leather fringed biker jacket, Mex Tex 1986; blue and red fleck zoot suit 1981


Lloyd Johnson The Modern Outfitter exhibition is at The Chelsea Space, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1 until Mar 3 — Read Robert Elms’s blog: “His King’s Road shop, with the scooter parked outside, was part of the hub of wild boutiques, along with Vivienne Westwood, Boy, Antony Price and Rockit, which made Chelsea the place to be throughout the punk era.” Lloyd Johnson will be at The Chelsea Space every Wednesday throughout the exhibition.
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Pulp,US tour, dates, pop music ,festival murciano,
✱ Hot news! Pulp reissue their weird and groundbreaking first three albums on Feb 20. Then Jarvis and friends head for the States. We have the tour dates for Pulp in the US — plus Spain again in May. Can this be the year Pulp and Jarvis start delivering some answers?
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Ringo Starr’s 17th solo studio record, Ringo 2012 was released on January 31. Of the nine tracks two are covers, Think It Over and Rock Island Line, and two are new versions of his own songs, Wings and Step Lightly.
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Richard Strange, Gary Kemp, Mighty Big If , events
✱ At Facebook Richard Strange announces: “What a year it’s been… getting married to my amazing wife, Kelly, and culminating Jan 24 with the exciting launch of A Mighty Big If and Don Boyd’s online arts channel, HiBrow. My guests Alison Jackson and Richard Wilson were nothing short of inspirational, and having Gary Kemp [above] play three songs with me was the icing on a delicious cake. Thank you all!”

✱ Led by film maker Don Boyd, HiBrow is a highly personalised online platform for the performing and visual arts — Launch highlights include Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre performing David Eldridge’s All Is Vanity; the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra performing Mahler’s Fifth Symphony; 2011 World Book Night readings and interviews presented by Graham Norton; coverage of the 2011 film festival in Burkina Faso; Raf Bonachela Company’s dance performance of The Land Of Yes and the Land of No; Gavin Turk in conversation with Richard Strange; and previews from the Tate St Ives.
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Kid Creole, Coconuts, Victoria Park, Apple Cart Festival , Penguin Café, Billy Bragg Kid Creole & The Coconuts headline at The Apple Cart Festival 2012 in London’s Victoria Park E9 on June 3. Comedy, art, cabaret, magic — plus Billy Bragg, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard, Marcus Foster, Marques Toliver, Martin Creed, Noah & The Whale, Penguin Café, Stornoway & more.
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✱ Last month, the Preston-based Laboratory Project launched a new album Taste Masters 3 featuring Two Weeks Running, MC Tunes, Saturday Night Gym Club, Salford Jets, Twin Planets, Pangaea & Drew Smith.
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✱ Singer Tony Hadley announces: “My wife and I are pleased to announce the safe arrival of our beautiful baby daughter born on February 6, 2012.”
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We Can Be Heroes,Chris Sullivan, Graham Smith, Unbound Publishing,party✱ The definitive history of 80s clubbing We Can Be Heroes is throwing a Soho party Feb 22 where you can meet Graham Smith and co-author Chris Sullivan and buy signed copies downstairs at the The Sun & Thirteen Cantons, 21 Great Pulteney Street, W1F 9NG. From 7pm until late, with Sullivan on the turntables… View video of Sullivan telling his “Ribald tales of excess”.
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i-D Magazine, Pre-Spring, Weather, Pan Yan✱ i-D magazine launches its Pre-Spring 2012 Whatever The Weather issue with covers inspired by the Chinese Year of The Dragon, Pan Yan [left] shot by Chinese fashion photographer Chen Man… Fashion forecasts for the season ahead include Wolfgang Tillmans on London Fashion Week and Juergen Teller at Pam Hogg’s Paris show, while Hedi Slimmane shoots Dylan Riley (don’t ask which one). Music includes Azealia Banks and the Albanian Rita Ora … Here at Shapersofthe80s Dazed and i-D hipster sounds go head to head
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✱ Bowie’s friend Wendy spotted herself dancing in the newly discovered Jean Genie video — read her story here at Shapersofthe80s.
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Martin Kemp, Hustle, bbc, series 8,Spandau bass player Martin Kemp returns to UK TV screens as a stylish gangster in the hit peaktime BBC1 drama series, Hustle, viewable on iPlayer until Feb 17. Martin talks about the show, veteran American actor Robert Vaughn, and being directed by one of its stars, Adrian Lester, in an interview at Cultbox
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Martin Kemp, Stalker,DVD,psycho-thriller,film,Black & Blue,✱ Released Jan 30 on DVD: the moody psycho-thriller Martin Kemp’s Stalker — Amazon sold out early so visit Martin’s Facebook page. Signed poster cards also available…

At Shapersofthe80s view video interview with Martin as the popstar talks about becoming a movie mogul … and read how he got blood on his hands during his his directorial debut.
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✱ Taking in London’s Albert Hall on Nov 26, the Human League XXXV Tour kicks off Nov 23, 2012 from Brighton with 14 UK dates so far.
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Submotion Orchestra, Ruby Wood,Jazz, Grime, Classical, Dubstep, Soul, Dub, UK tour,LeedsSubmotion Orchestra, the live 7-piece from Leeds whose Facebook interests include “Jazz, Grime, Classical, Dubstep, Soul, Dub, Garage, Improv” announce their third headline tour March 12–17 from Fac251 in Manc via Scala London to Bristol Fleece, to promote a hotly anticipated new single and second album. Here’s Angel Eyes…


Listen at Soundcloud to their Finest Hour – The Remixes available now on iTunes featuring versions by Goth-Trad, Planas, Phaeleh, Synkro, Laxx, SeeMore Productions, Eddie Ranking and Jack Sparrow … “Submotion Orchestra carry both the funk and the groove into new dimensions” — The Word
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Rewind, 80s Festival,Henley-on-Thames, Scone Palace,Perth, pop music✱ On sale now: Rewind The 80s Festival in Henley-on-Thames returns for a fourth successive year Aug 17–19 at Temple Island Meadows with Kool & The Gang, OMD, Grandmaster Flash, Rick Astley, Soul II Soul, Five Star, Starship, Jimmy Somerville, Sinitta, Tony Hadley, Marc Almond, Midge Ure and Adam Ant and The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse. Plus festival fun from silent discos to live karaoke … Also, Rewind Scotland — The 80s Festival at Scone Palace, Perthshire July 20–22, with 80s recording artists who include ABC, Holly Johnson, Marc Almond, Midge Ure, Squeeze, Jimmy Somerville, Altered Images, Five Star, Go West, Limahl, Village People and Adam Ant.
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Amanda Mair,pop music, Leaving Early,debut✱ PopJustice has gone ape for two Nordic beauties: 16-year-old Swede Amanda Mair [pictured] whose debut album is “a nonstop amazeathon” while expressing “high hopes” for a new album from Norwegian electro-pop goddess Bertine Zetlitz, “whose last studio album is one of the best of the modern pop era”.
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David Hockney, Royal Academy,exhibition,Bigger Picture ,London,interview,cubism,iPad,Yorkshire,landscape,art,Proust✱ The massive new exhibition of vibrantly coloured landscapes by David Hockney is not, he insists, a retrospective, but mainly new work responding to the unique skies over Yorkshire. The show concludes with an eye-popping series of “cubistic” multi-screen cine films of exactly the kind he was proposing to Shapersofthe80s in his 1983 landmark interview when he revealed “Suddenly I see cubism differently, more clearly”. Read it inside.
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✱ The February issue of Dazed & Confused heads to Harlem to hang with 24-year-old rap sensation A$AP Rocky … Plus four interviews with groundbreaking designers Meadham Kirchhoff, Kris Van Assche, Kim Jones and Christopher Kane … Online at Dazed Digital: profile of John Brockman, vanguard of intellectual fashion.
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Paul Oakenfold, BMX Remix, Gold (song),Spandau Ballet, Wispa Gold,Team GB,2012 Olympics✱ Spandau Ballet now offer a UK download bundle of three club and dub mixes of their anthemic hit single Gold at a special price … Paul Oakenfold’s BMX Remix of Gold on sale at iTunes and at Amazon Downloads
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✱ View the ♫ pre-Olympics music video of the Gold BMX remix and read the story behind it here at Shapersofthe80s.
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✱ Feb 19 from 8pm: Spandau’s songwriting Kemp brother is interviewed on Absolute 80s radio about The Lyrics of Gary Kemp to be published on March 27 by the Lyric Book Company, featuring all the songs the guitarist has written over four decades, including club anthems To Cut A Long Story Short, Chant No.1 and True — discover why Kemp found it “hard to write the next line” here at Shapersofthe80s.
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Marc Almond in Concert: A Birthday Celebration, London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, July 9 — another milestone celebration on the night of his 55th birthday. A string and brass section will join Almond’s regular band and they promise a Northern Soul finale.
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Rusty Egan, Blitz Club Live,Valentine, clubbing,UK✱ Rusty Egan will bring the authentic 80s sounds of The Blitz to a Very New Romantic Valentines Party at Bath’s recently enlarged Circo cocktail bar on Feb 11 … Other Saturdays there are cocktails, food and Egan deejaying at Jaks on Walton Street in Chelsea… Listen to his latest 16-track 80s mix L’amour et la Violence.
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Lou Reed has announced a From Vu To Lulu European tour during summer 2012, without a single appearance in the UK. Kicking off in Luxembourg on June 6, ending in Slovakia July 5, he will perform material from his entire canon, Velvet Underground to his recent Metallica collaborative album Lulu. His five-piece band will include Tony ‘Thunder’ Smith (drums), Rob Wasserman (bass), Kevin Hearn (keyboards), and Aram Bajakian (guitar).
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Fac51, Hacienda, Manchester, logo, nightclubbing, records, pop music✱ The first release of 2012 will be Dark Teenage Fantasy, the “slinky, twisted disco” debut EP on Feb 6 from synthpop duo Super White Assassin … Fac251’s Second Birthday comes in two parts at M1 7EN: Sat Feb 4 has 24Hr Party People onscreen, Covelles live, plus DJ sets inc Peter Hook … More on Feb 11, with free gig by Reverend and the Makers … Missionary every Tuesday at Fac251: three rooms with Bombed Out hosting the basement.
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Verdicts on 2011: Picky people’s year-ending Best Ofs in fashion, TV, web and film … also Best Ofs across the music scene

2012 ➤ Moss misses Culture Club’s new dawn in Australia

Culture Club, Jon Moss, reunion, Boy George, TV interview, Sunrise

TV scoop November 15: Culture Club announced their reunion on Sunrise, yet Jon Moss seemed distinctly uncomfortable. (Videograb © Channel 7)

❚ THE 80s REUNION OF THE NEW YEAR had been long touted and sceptically doubted. Yet suddenly on November 15 Australia’s number one breakfast show Sunrise on Channel 7 had a world exclusive: the 80s supergroup Culture Club were reforming to play live at the New Year’s Eve celebrations on Glebe Island right in Sydney harbour. That week Shapersofthe80s reported the amazing news. There on video we saw all four members of the chart-topping band with their vocalist Boy George sporting his powder blue Treacy hat, squeezed into a tiny studio in London.

Culture Club, Roy Hay, Jon Moss, reunion, concert,Boy George, Mikey Craig , Sydney, Glebe Island, But everybody’s body language looked awkward, not helped by the satellite link causing long silences in the London-Oz conversation. Once each member spoke up, however, they seemed able to laugh at themselves, including drummer and onetime lover of George, Jon Moss now married and aged 54, who attended George’s last birthday party with his wife. All three were papped there in a smiling embrace.

In the Sunrise interview, however, Jon wore a wearisome expression as he sat behind George, like some jaded husband who’s heard the wife making promises a million times before. And when asked why it had taken ten years to get together, Jon fessed up that “It takes that long to recover from the last time we worked with each other”. Nobody laughed, only averted their eyes. This might of course have been Jon being his usual sardonic self. Or, even then, he might have been suffering the terrible back pain which it is said has laid him low since Christmas .

In the event, on Tuesday as George watched the in-flight movie Senna aboard the plane out of London and tweeted “OMG, he was a beauty & so sweet”, Jon Moss was not beside him. When Culture Club stopped over to play a warm-up gig at the Tennis Stadium in Dubai, Jon was not at his drumkit, nor did he appear in Australia. A brief announcement before Culture Club took the stage in Sydney just after midnight on Jan 1 amounts to all the public has been told: Jon was stuck in London with a bad back, apparently a slipped disc. A sharp-eyed fan in the US called Gloria recalls that George tweeted about this on December 30. He said: “Jon is very unwell sadly. He was too poorly to travel. He’s gutted, so are we!”

Culture Club, Roy Hay, Jon Moss, reunion, Boy George, Mikey Craig , Dubai Tennis Stadium,live concert

Culture Club’s warm-up gig in Dubai Dec 29: while the poster includes Jon Moss, only Boy George, Mikey Craig and Roy Hay take to the stage with a stand-in drummer. (Videograb courtesy boypierreemmanuel)

Fans naturally started to ask what’s really up behind the scenes? Old friends initially suspected a classic attack with a hatpin, harking back to the old feuding of the 80s. But talk within Culture Club circles this week confirms that Jon has suffered an authentic injury and is due to go into hospital for treatment. The camaraderie between George, Jon, Roy and Mikey is reported to have been rekindled and rehearsals actually enjoyable and relaxed enough for whoever is around to join in with the writing. At band dinners in Dubai and Sydney there was agreement that the two shows had gone well. George was being particularly sociable with everyone after hours, rather than doing his own thing as in the old days.

All the more surprising then that George hasn’t offered Jon any further sympathy on Twitter or Facebook. Nor have we heard anything about Jon’s health expressed publicly. OK, there doesn’t seem to be an active official website for Culture Club as a band, but George’s own website has stayed schtum too. Amid George’s continual tweeting during the round trip (which included a bleat about a hotel charging $8 to deliver coffee to his room), the only reference to the show itself said: “I had such a great time tonight in Sydney. A very memorable NYE, with Neil Tennant from PSBs.”

Seven words spring to mind: Do you really want to hurt me?

Culture Club, Jon Moss, reunion, Boy George, Twitter,Neil Tennant, Sydney,live concert
One other interview during December gave a glimpse inside Culture Club family relations. With George sitting on ITV’s This Morning sofa [video below] plugging his £500 coffee-table photobook, Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby quizzed him about the infamous Culture Club split back in 1986, and the 10-year gap since the band’s last reformation.

George said: “We never really ‘fell-out’ fell out. It was more personality things. It was never financial because they’re the worst fall-outs when people fall out financially, that’s hard to come back from. But we never had any of that stuff. It was just childish stuff… What’s funny about bands is it’s a bit like being in a dysfunctional family — and people don’t change. What happens is you change the way you react to people. The thing about being grown up. ‘That annoys me but I’m just going to take a walk’ — ‘I’m not going to tell you that that annnoys me.’ You have to learn to be tolerant.”

Make of that what you can!

THREE-MAN CULTURE CLUB PLAYING DUBAI DEC 29

… AND IN SYDNEY JANUARY 1

Culture Club, Roy Hay, Kevan Frost,reunion, Boy George,  Sydney, Glebe Island, live concert,

Culture Club live in Sydney 2012: Kevan Frost substituting for Jon Moss on drums. Photo courtesy samesame.com.au

❏ Standing in for Jon Moss as drummer in both Dubai and Sydney was Kevan Frost whose credits as a collaborator with George go back to the 90s, so the music was familiar territory for him. Prominent onstage, too, was the familiar bearded figure of John Themis on guitar, another long-standing co-writer and producer during George’s years as a solo performer. Also onstage, keyboard player, percussionist, four brass and three backing singers.

Culture Club, Roy Hay, live concert,John Themis, reunion, Boy George,Sydney, Glebe Island

Culture Club live in Sydney 2012: Roy Hay and John Themis. Photo courtesy cyberchameleon.com

Culture Club, reunion, Boy George, Mikey Craig , Sydney, Glebe Island, live concert

Culture Club live in Sydney 2012: Mikey Craig photographed by Johnny Au

ALSO LIVE ON THE SYDNEY NEW YEAR’S EVE BILL

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➢ More NYE pix at The Music Network

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