Category Archives: dance music

2022 ➤ Out of chaos comes forth Grace Jones

Grace Jones, Meltdown, Royal Festival Hall

Grace Jones’s finale at Meltdown: 20ft above the stage in Keith Haring printed dress

■ WHAT AN O-T-T SPECTACLE Grace Jones made of her finale last night as the annual Meltdown Festival’s curator over ten days at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Backed by an eight-piece band (which includes her son Paolo), plus a magical accordionist during Libertango, Grace’s own set reached back through her entire catalogue of reggae, dub, soul, new wave, pop and disco. As her supporting act, the evening had showcased the black British singer and percussionist Eska (who Radio 6’s Gilles Petersen has called “one of the most important singers in the UK”).

Grace Jones, Meltdown, Royal Festival Hall

Grace as Meltdown logo

Grace was on-stage for 1h45m while she changed costumes for virtually every number and was visibly fortifying herself during the changes with red wine, an apparent spliff and who knows what else. Let’s face it, at 74 years old, this was a helluva lot of stage minutes to cavort through in her uniquely burlesque style without break!

The show opened to reveal her singing the trip-hop This Is, mounted like a mannequin atop a massive 20ft “dress” bearing a Keith Haring print and wafting as if animated within by vigorous dancing feet. The witty chaos that followed didn’t falter, and never overshadowed the music.

Click any pic below to enlarge all in a slideshow

Telling us “I feel like the wicked witch,” Grace proceeded to destroy two sets of side drums, spin her famous hula-hoop throughout Slave to the Rhythm while tweaking her bare nipples, surf her way up through the stalls during Pull Up To the Bumper buoyed by an eager audience, then returning to the stage to fight her own full-on Hurricane from a wind machine, the whole time proffering her sensually painted torso to us, led by a curiously masculine bulge over the crotch of her black corset. All of which exhausted many among the sell-out standing audience across the generations who had to sit down at frequent intervals to recover their wits.

Grace’s legendary creative chaos endured to the end: the band had taken their bows and exited past the scheduled finish time, when Grace lit a cigarette and told us “I can sing a cappella” only to linger alone to give us La Vie En Rose. Then, er, that done, she walked off. Here’s to Grace’s 75th!

Grace Jones, Meltdown, Royal Festival Hall

Grace Jones at Meltdown: backed by her eight-piece band

➢ Read Andy Polaris’s expert review of Grace’s triumphant return to the London stage – at his blog Apolarisview

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
2011, Mother of all disco divas Grace fans her hurricane

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2022 ➤ Spandau seek your help to create a major new showcase

Spandau, New Romantics, pop music, New York City, 1981

Spandau in New York City 1981: were you there and do you have any memorabilia?

■ THE FIRST NEW BAND out of Eighties clubland to score a chart hit are planning a celebration of those early formative years when the world called them the leaders of the New Romantics.

Today Spandau Ballet – all now in their sixties – announced “a major career-defining project” and appealed to fans for help. The band invites everyone who attended any of their performances between 1979 and 1981 to send in memorabilia such as flyers, posters, tickets, video or film footage of Spandau Ballet, onstage and off. For example, these would include their appearances at London’s Blitz Club, Mayhem Studios, Scala Cinema, HMS Belfast, their first Top of the Pops, Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens, Tiger Bay Cardiff, Heaven and the Sundown in London, Exeter Bowl Bournemouth, Le Palace in Paris, the Underground Club in New York, the Ku Club in Ibiza or the Much More in Rome.

Likewise, send them your memories of the pace-setting dance-led clubs during those years, such as Billy’s, the Blitz, Rum Runner, Le Beat Route, Le Kilt, Club for Heroes, Danceteria, the Voodoo Club, or from 1982 the Camden Palace and the Wag club. Again, memorabilia that captures the fashions and the atmosphere is welcomed.

➢ Click to visit Spandau’s special website for
submissions and more information

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, Steve Strange’s call to join the party

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1982 ➤ Strange takes UK clubbing mainstream

Koko, Camden Theatre, Camden Palace, nightclubbing, music venue, fire, architecture, Music Machine,

Steve Strange in 1982: for ever being filmed at Camden Palace

40
YEARS
ON

❏ In the same season that Next opened its first shops in Britain to bring colour to the high street, Steve Strange and Rusty Egan went mainstream with their first mega-club venue for the growing generation of nightlifers who had discovered that dressing up could change your life. On this day in April 1982, Strange & Egan began fronting what became the Camden Palace a couple of nights a week, way north of London’s West End. This huge Edwardian theatre was most famous in the postwar years as BBC radio’s studio for recording the Goon Shows.

Within its first year and open five nights a week, the Palace came to offer easily the best night out in London because, as well as the usual delights, this poser’s paradise won a reputation for offering more. The world’s media and photographers learned this was the fashionable place to find the next big thing and on the crowded stairways here, posing truly began to pay its way…

During 1982 mega-clubs began appearing across the country, from the Hacienda in Manchester to Rock City in Nottingham and the Academy in Bournemouth. Click below to read my report in the Evening Standard nailing how streetwise New Romantic followers set about expressing their inner talents in ways that helped transform rampant unemployment into a jobs market in which the young began to thrive…

Camden Palace, nightclubbing, Steve Strange

First published in the Evening Standard, 11 May 1983

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1983, A silly hat and a calculated look might be
the best career move you’ve ever made

London, nightlife

Palace forecourt 1983: in their circle of peers everyone in this picture is a household name. Picture © by David Montgomery

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
2020, Second time unlucky as fire ravages
the former Camden Palace nightspot

➢ 2022, On 29 April Koko, the renamed Camden Palace,
reopens as a state-of-the-art venue after massive refurbs
including a new roof garden. Arcade Fire plays live

Koko, nightclub, London, reopens, live venue

Koko in 2022: a roof-terrace bar as part of its £70m refurbishment

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2021 ➤ Robbie Vincent wins Sunday radio slot!

Jazz, soul, funk, dance music, radio, Robbie Vincent, JazzFM, Tony Minvielle

New moves at JazzFM: Tony Minvielle and Robbie Vincent

❚ GREAT NEWS FOR FANS of deejay legend Robbie Vincent who helped establish a UK audience for soul and jazz in the 1980s. After recent guest appearances on the nationwide music station JazzFM, he has been given a weekly show from Easter Sunday 4 April. Robbie was “pleased to confirm” the news via Twitter at 8:10am today.

Twitter, Jazz, soul, funk, dance music, radio, Robbie Vincent, JazzFM
➢ Planet Radio also announced:

Jazz FM is to introduce a new look to Sundays that sees an exciting new daytime slot for broadcaster Tony Minvielle and the return of Robbie Vincent to a regular show.

Having previously hosted the late-night Sunday show Foldedspace on the station, Tony Minvielle will take on 10am until 1pm with a relaxed soulful selection of UK and west coast US jazz and soul. Expect conversations with some of today’s hottest acts.

Radio legend Robbie Vincent will make a return to weekly broadcasting on Jazz FM following a series of specials in May last year. He’ll present a two-hour Sunday afternoon show 1-3pm which promises to be full of ‘soulful jazzy vibes’.

Robbie Vincent says: ‘After my trial runs last year on Jazz FM, I’m really pleased to be back at home and more specifically back in the music garden on a Sunday. The new show will have some smashing mature tunes and super fresh rhythms… / Continued at planetradio.co.uk

➢ Tune in to JazzFM on all platforms

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1980 ➤ When Duran Duran put Brummie Romantics on the map

Duran Duran, New Romantics

Duran Duran in 1980: Birmingham’s fluffiest New Romantics

40
YEARS
ON

◼ 40 YEARS AGO TODAY the Birmingham club-band Duran Duran released their debut single Planet Earth, less than two months after signing to EMI. It charted in mid-March, peaked at No 12, and bagged the band a spot on Top of the Pops, Britain’s premier music TV show. They were the first New Romantic band from outside London to make good, and the writer Steve Jansen claims that “inside of three short years, Duran were officially the biggest band on the planet”.

He celebrated Duran’s birthpangs with a thorough survey of their origins titled Switch It On! – Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran, on the blog gimmeawristband.com which though sadly defunct today, is preserved at the Wayback Machine. As a shorter alternative, Shapersofthe80s documented a few key excerpts from his epic account, where Jansen talked to all the key players involved during the run-up to the band’s chart debut. They are published here with his permission…

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Read Steve Jansen on how other people’s faith put
the Brummies into the charts

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began
in the Studio 54 of Birmingham

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