Category Archives: live music

2022 ➤ Martin Kemp on a life full of love but lacking two vital apologies

Martin Kemp, Spandau Ballet, Los Angeles, pop music, live concerts,

Golden years: Martin Kemp escaping fans after Spandau Ballet played at The Palace, Los Angeles, in 1983

❚ MARTIN IS THE YOUNGER BROTHER of the two Kemps, the good-looking one with the easy charm that has opened doors into a television career that included EastEnders. Gary is the older one with such a strong sense of self that as recently as 2017 it wrecked the last of several reunions for Spandau Ballet, by shedding their talented and popular singer Tony Hadley who now thrives with his own band. In 1978 Gary had invited Martin to learn to play bass then join his former school band the Makers 18 months before it was renamed Spandau Ballet and went on to international success.

Today The Guardian interviews Martin Kemp aged 61 about his third book, Ticket to the World: My 80s Story (HarperCollins £11), which sounds more cosy than you might expect following Kemp’s distressing surgery to remove two brain tumours during the 1990s. He can’t stop telling us how much he loves everybody in his life, even after fist fights with Gary. What does he have to say about why Tony Hadley left the band in 2017, after several previous break-ups? ➢ The interviewer Paula Cocozza reports:

“It’s something that I’d never spoken to him about. But I do feel guilty when I look back.” In the book, Kemp stops short of an apology. “Oh, listen,” he says immediately. “I would apologise to Tony, absolutely, for the way that he was treated. I think it was really poor.”

Why doesn’t he pick up the phone and say all this to Hadley? He really sounds as if he wants to. But he says: “I haven’t spoken to Tony for ages. I reach out to him, but I rarely hear back. I send little messages” – he mimes texting – “if I get two words back, I’m happy.

“Tony is lovely,” he says. “He is a lovely man. I will always, always love him, in the same way I love all the rest of the band. But you drift apart, don’t you?”

Nowhere in the interview does the name of Ross William Wild get mentioned, the singer who succeeded Hadley during 2018 following Martin Kemp’s recommendation, and was silently dumped after a trial series of concerts and subsequently contemplated suicide. When might he, too, expect an apology from the band who blanked him?

Spandau Ballet, Ross William Wild, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, pop music,

October 2018: What proved to be vocalist Ross William Wild’s last outing with Spandau Ballet at the Hammersmith Apollo

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2020, Singer Ross reveals how Spandau drove him to try ending it all

FRONT PAGE

2022 ➤ Steve Norman relives Spandau’s Glory days

Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, Journeys To Glory Tour, TheSleevz, Pop music, live concerts,

TheSleevz live onstage at Pizza Express Holborn, Steve Norman in banter mode

❚ FOLLOWING ON THE HEELS of last month’s buzzy comeback gigs at the Pizza Express Holborn, sax-player Steve Norman announces dates for his Journeys To Glory Tour with his own band The Sleevz. They will celebrate Spandau Ballet’s debut album from 1981 whose tracks include the band’s first hit single, To Cut A Long Story Short, plus Musclebound, Reformation, The Freeze, Mandolin, Age of Blows, Confused and Toys. At that time Steve was displaying his skills as a guitar-player.

This week Steve declared: “I’ve been reminiscing about last weekend’s Holborn shows. They were two of the most joyful, exciting and yet relaxed gigs that myself and The Sleevz have performed in the past six years that we’ve been together.
I adore this venue as it’s only a stone’s throw from where I lived and grew up. And more and more, the love and participation from the fans, family and friends ensures that the basement remains our spiritual home.”

Not only did he demonstrate his supreme talents on saxophone and percussion, but his performance as lead singer has gained in strength and impact, backed by his very tight band featuring his wife Sabrina on vocals and son Jaco on bass. His medley of pop covers and a second half of Spandau classics all enjoyed fresh energy while, as ever, he shared banter a-plenty with his audience, many of whom he knows by name.

Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, Journeys To Glory Tour, TheSleevz, Pop music, live concerts,
➢ The Journeys To Glory Tour by TheSleevz offers 14 UK dates between Wokingham 30 Sept and Lancaster on 31 October

Steve Norman, David Johnson,

And after a superb gig at Pizza Express: Yours Truly set upon by an over-enthusiastic Steve Norman

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2021, Steve Norman returns with TheSleevz and a surprise royal send-off!

FRONT PAGE

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

FRONT PAGE

2021 ➤ Steve Norman returns with The Sleevz and a surprise royal send-off!

Sleevz, Pizza Express Live, Steve Norman, pop music, concert

Sleevz live at Pizza Express 2021: L-R, Steve Norman, Sabrina Winter, Jaco Norman and Paul Cuddeford. (Photo: Shapersofthe80s)


Updated on 27 August 2021
❚ AFTER 18 MONTHS OFF-STAGE Spandau Ballet sax player Steve Norman and his own band The Sleevz have returned to what he calls “our fav venue” Pizza Express Live in Holborn, London. On Thursday night and Friday afternoon they played a “festival set” including Spandau’s most popular hit songs, alongside some of Steve’s own tracks and personal favourites. The lineup included his wife Sabrina Winter, his son Jaco Norman, Paul Cuddeford and Joe Bongo Becket.

During Spandau’s heyday in the Swinging Eighties, the multi-instrumentalist Steve introduced the saxophone as his signature sound then wrote and played one of the most iconic saxophone solos on the band’s No 1 hit True. Steve toured the globe with Spandau Ballet and in 1985 he appeared at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium.

In 2014 the band released a documentary about themselves and 1980s culture more broadly, Soul Boys of the Western World, followed by the album The Story – The Very Best of Spandau Ballet, and another world tour in 2015. In 2017 Steve started playing solo shows across Europe accompanied by his five-piece band.

➢ Click here for tickets for August 26 (8pm) and
August 27 (1:30pm matinee)

The Sleevz, Pizza Express Live, Steve Norman, pop music, concert

Steve Norman, left, with his band Sleevz: Paul Cuddeford,‪ Sabrina Winter, Joe Bongo Becket, Jaco Norman

friends, Sleevz, Pizza Express Live, Steve Norman, pop music, concert

Steve Norman at Pizza Express 2021: with wives of his schoolfriends in Family Corner. (Photo: Shapersofthe80s)

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Spandau Ballet’s 2014 comeback with a film of their soul-boy journey through pop

ALSO OUT OF THE BLUE THIS WEEK!

The Band of the Coldstream Guards and the Band of the Scots Guard, Changing the Guard, Gold, pop music

CLICK on this pic to view The Royal Family’s video of Gold being played live on the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace this week

❏ As an amazing coincidence, on Monday the Royal Family’s page at Facebook posted this video of Spandau Ballet’s 1983 hit Gold being played live on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Back on duty for the first time since March 2020, we see the State Ceremonial Musicians performing while the daily ceremony of Changing The Guard took place. Here, the Band of the Coldstream Guards and the Band of the Scots Guard combined in a special tribute to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics which began this week.

Steve Norman commented: “I’m very proud of our Spandau legacy. Almost 40 years on and still going strong. My mum would be so proud. She loved the pomp and ceremony of Changing the Guard. Congratulations to team GB for their Olympic achievements.”

❏ Spandau’s original singer Tony Hadley wrote on Twitter: “So honoured for the Ceremonial Musicians to have done their first performance since March to Gold. What a brilliant job! Many thanks. Tone.”

➢ Steve Norman & The Sleevz play the Wonderhall Festival, Lytham St Annes, Lancs, on Saturday 28th from 2pm onward

➢ Tony Hadley plays Let’s Rock Scotland 2021 on Saturday from noon at Dalkeith Country Park near Edinburgh

FRONT PAGE