Category Archives: London

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

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2021 ➤ The man called Seven offers his skills to the next generation of music students

Rock music, education, Business, Seven Webster, IMCP, BA (Hons),

Seven Webster: probably the nicest guy in rock


❚ THE LAST TIME Shapers of the 80s mentioned Seven Webster, we described him as “probably the nicest guy on the entire UK music scene” and it’s with great pleasure we can now reveal his new role championing entrepreneurship in that industry.

He said yesterday: “I am extremely honoured to have been appointed an ambassador for the first ever BA (Hons) Music Business Degree in the UK. Encouraging fresh entrepreneurial spirit is the very essence of what is going to help shape, strengthen and sustain the future of music. To lend my support to future generations of creative like-minded spirits is wonderful.”

Announcing his appointment, The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) declared: “Seven is a successful and well-respected music industry professional, who has worked across various parts of the sector. The kind of entrepreneurial spirit he embodies is at the heart of our course and his insight and experience will be an invaluable asset for our students.

“His 7pm Management company has launched and managed the careers of numerous established top 40 artists and DJs over the last 30 years. This includes the likes of superstar DJs Sasha, John Digweed and Carl Cox through to the multi-million selling singer-songwriter Dido and rock band Skindred.”

Other ventures have included running music publishing companies and organising live music events. In 2015 which Seven described as “a very buoyant time for rock”, people were actively signing rock acts and wielding what he believed was “a cumulative fist”.

7pm Management, Swinging 80s, Rock music, Seven Webster, Geschlechts-Akt, Padded Cell, nightclubbing,

Seven Webster when we first met, 1983 at the Padded Cell… and as guitarist in postpunk band Geschlechts-Akt, 1984


His outfit launched a new music conference at the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation in Shoreditch. RockComm London described itself as “the first UK-based international rock music conference aiming to unite everyone from labels, publishers, managers, distributors, agents, promoters, manufacturers, digital aggregators, the lot”. RockComm was as an appetiser for the UK’s biggest rock music event, the Download Festival.

Seven is one of a seemingly small band of brothers who is determined to assert his creative ideals. He draws on a lifelong love of music, saying “it’s my heart and soul”, having kicked off playing guitar in a post-punk band called Geschlechts-Akt (a messy German mouthful meaning Sex Act). He is also intensely sociable and has a quip ready to account for most eventualities. As he told us at the age of 20: “I just hate staying in. I’ll go to ice-cream and jelly parties, anything.”

➢ IMCP breaks the news of Seven’s appointment

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: 2015, Seven’s easy stages – from jelly parties to saviour of the rock scene

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1983, Deciphering the code of the Padded Cell

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2001 ➤ Blitz Kids nail the rites for a Tuesday night out

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Spandau Ballet, pop music, fashion

Before the phrase New Romantics had been invented: Blitz Kids queue for Spandau Ballet’s second pivotal concert at the Scala Cinema in May 1980

20 & 40
YEARS
ON

❚ BBC4 REMINDED UK AUDIENCES this week how entertaining were many of the Blitz Kids who set the New Romantics ball rolling 40 years ago. When the documentary The New Romantics: A Fine Romance was made in 2001, these talking heads were of course 20 years younger than they are today and full of fizz.

However BBC Manchester fell for some faulty memories that had gelled into mythological “truths” to create several laugh-out-loud howlers in the voice-over script as the price of believing odd Blitz Kid fantasies. Another irritation, amid much classic vintage footage, was the repeated montaging of film footage irrelevant to the Blitz club-night run by gender-bending Steve Strange and electro-deejay Rusty Egan, mainly because no more than about 11 minutes of live footage inside the Tuesday-night Blitz exist, and only one of which was used in this doc. That’s history for you. Set in video.

At least we can enjoy the many gnomic quips tossed out by the stars of 1980’s clubworld during the 48-minutes of A Fine Romance…

St Martin’s designer Fiona Dealey on the New Romantic credo: “Dressing for the Blitz was REAL THEATRE. It wasn’t just another uniform.”

Blitz Kid Stephen Linard’s trade secret: “Make-up was the big thing: make-up and Elnett. We used to get our make-up DONE FOR NOTHING down at Selfridges at half-past five and the girls there would do a makeover on you.”

Steve Strange on the term New Romantics: “I’d rather call it THE CULT WITH NO NAME, because the papers can never put one finger on it.”

Rusty Egan on gender confusion at the Blitz: “By the end of the night you’d hope to go home with someone – same sex, opposite sex, NO SEX AT ALL, you were never quite sure.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on their music: “Over the period 78-79 in the rehearsal studio the band gradually changed from a rock-pop sound to a modern SYNTHESISED TYPE DANCE SOUND.”

Duran’s Nick Rhodes on first seeing Spandau Ballet live in Birmingham in 1980: “We saw them play at the Botanical Gardens and when we left we were smiling. We just said: WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?”

New Romantics, Duran Duran, pop music, frilly shirts, Top of the Pops

Happy even to work “New Romantic” into their lyrics: frilly Duran Duran’s debut on Top of the Pops in March 1981

“Boy” George O’Dowd: “Duran Duran brought the FRILLY SHIRT through to the masses.”

Gary Kemp on shooting Spandau Ballet’s video for Chant No 1 at the Beat Route club in 1981: “That was our LAST HOORAH – Spandau being part of this movement.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on the early 80s: “There was this COLOURFUL BANG which revitalised pop culture and fashion and London as a swinging city.”

Robert Elms on the clubbing revolution initiated by the Blitz Kids: “It introduced one-off nightclubs, warehouse parties, the deejay as the centre of attention, clubs where they tell you you can’t come in UNLESS YOU LOOK RIGHT. None of that had existed before.”

George O’Dowd speaking as an old Boy: “Strange and Egan were the gruesome twosome of the time – the HINGE AND BRACKET of New Romanticism.”

➢ View A Fine Romance (BBC Manchester 2001,
last shown 2015, on iPlayer now for another month)

➢ Says one observer: “If you stepped out and didn’t get
abuse, you hadn’t done it right” – Daily Mail review, 2001

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy in 2010

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➤ Fond farewells to Joe Allen who revolutionised London’s restaurant scene

Joe Allen, obituaries,Covent Garden, New York City, Orso, restaurants, tributes, theatreland,

Joe Allen at his regular spot at Joe Allen NYC, opened in 1965, before his block was christened Restaurant Row. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

❚ JOE ALLEN, THE RESTAURATEUR who splashed bazzazz across theatreland, has died aged 87. His photograph confirms the memory of him being a double for Humphrey Bogart, who as Rick also sat alone at his own table in the film Casablanca – though Lauren Bacall always denied any similarity! He pioneered his empire in 1965 with two outlets in New York City on a strip of West 46th Street that would become known as Restaurant Row. Then in 1972 he took the Joe Allen brand to Paris and in 1977 to London, opening both Joe Allen’s in a former orchid warehouse, as well as Orso’s Italian brasserie, during the revival of Covent Garden which had idled since 1974 when the vegetable market moved out.

Immediately lunchtimes became social hubs for publishers from Bloomsbury and newspaper hacks from Fleet Street, both a short walk away. By night both places were packed with stars coming on from their West End shows and I only ever managed to sit on star table No 1 once which was in 1984 when I met Hollywood’s legendary Dorian Gray, the actor Hurd Hatfield, visiting from his home in Ireland, who told a very bawdy joke (sorry, unrepeatable)! On Saturday nights Andrew Neil, editor of The Sunday Times from 1983 to 1994, held court round a large table at Orso with his top team awaiting a courier bringing first-edition proofs for the next day’s paper.

Joe Allen’s personal style was laconic, his restaurants unpretentious and clublike, from red brick walls to an inexpensive hamburger-led menu, and waiting staff who were invariably resting actors. Most famously the walls were lined with theatre posters – of productions that had flopped. Notable patrons have included A-listers such as Al Pacino, Stephen Sondheim, Elaine Stritch, Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery and Sir Ian McKellen, while the restaurants maintained a strict no-photograph policy to protect the privacy of its high-profile guests.

Though Joe himself was very visible during the first year in London, often sitting at the table beside the kitchen, in fact the day-to-day operation was run by the baker Richard Polo as a partner, who died in 2019.

❏ Joseph Campbell Allen, born 20 Feb 1933, died 7 Feb 2021.

Joe Allen, Covent Garden, New York City, Orso, restaurants, tributes, theatreland,

Informality the keynote: Joe Allen’s restaurant on West 46th Street. (Photo: Robert Stolarik/The New York Times)


➢ Less about the food than about the atmosphere – Obituary by Joyce Purnick in the NY Times: “West 46th Street’s proximity to New York’s theater district made it viable, and Mr Allen, concluding that actors, directors, writers and theater patrons would always want to eat, created a relaxed pub aimed at attracting the theater crowd. There was nothing quite like the restaurant in the mid-1960s, and it took off.”

➢ Remembering Joe Allen, who fed Broadway in untheatrical style – by Peter Khoury in the NY Times: “Even before Joe opened Joe Allen, he was a partner in an Upper East Side restaurant called Allen’s. If you watch the 1965 Jack Lemmon comedy How to Murder Your Wife, you’ll see a few shots of a handsome, dark-haired bartender there. That’s Joe.”

➢ A magnet for actors, journalists and royalty – Obituary in The Times of London: “Allen kept a flat in Chelsea, visiting London several times a year. Business meetings occupied his mornings. At night he perched at the end of the bar quietly draining a case of his favourite American imported beers and observing more than conversing with a studied determination not to “inflict myself on the customers”. If he sat at a table it was always the worst one in the house.”

Joe Allen, Covent Garden, New York City, Orso, restaurants, theatreland,

Poster wall of flop shows at Joe Allen’s: at centre, “Got Tu Go Disco” a short-lived musical from 1979. (Photo: Sara Krulwich)

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➤ It’s A Sin reviewed: “Supporting the sadness there is an abundance of humour”

It’s A Sin, Lydia West, TV drama, gay issues, youth culture, Channel4, Olly Alexander

Good times in the Eighties: Olly Alexander fronts the It’s A Sin gang. (Channel 4)

As It’s a Sin is premiered on Channel 4 amid great expectations, Eighties singer Andy Polaris reviews the exuberant five-part TV series. Here’s an extract…

“ ❚ The much-feted writer Russell T Davies broke barriers with the pioneering British TV series Queer As Folk in 1999 and more recently with Cucumber, both lively depictions of gay life in contemporary Britain. Now comes It’s A Sin which focuses on a diverse group of gay friends mostly escaping from the familiar claustrophobia of suburban life (mostly closeted) and attracted to that well-trodden lure of big-city life. We are off to see the wizard, but this time we’re thrown back to 1981, the year of the first recorded British death from Aids at Brompton Hospital in London.

Ritchie (popstar Olly Alexander) is a gauche, attractive, closeted twink leaving home to study law in London, and his send-off from the Isle of Wight is a multi-pack of condoms from his bigoted dad (Shaun Dooley) as they both stress “It’s different on the mainland”. Roscoe (Omari Douglas) is a flamboyant young Nigerian whose strict religious parents are so fraught over his sexual orientation that he bolts defiantly before an intervention. Colin (Callum Scott Howells) leaves the Welsh valleys to lodge with a family and start his apprenticeship with a Savile Row tailor.

It’s A Sin, Lydia West, TV drama, gay issues, youth culture, Channel4,

It’s A Sin: Lydia West as Jill emerges as the anchor for her hedonistic friends. (Channel 4)

Soon the group become fast friends with Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) becoming Ritchie’s first lover. We follow the group with Ritchie as lynchpin while his horizons broaden along with the thriving bar scene. Casual sex becomes addictive and flashes past in a blaze of encounters against a soundtrack of the hideous but popular Hooked on Classics.

A scene where Ritchie’s pals party at Heaven, the biggest, brand new gay club, was a baptism by sexual freedom for gay men in a pre-internet landscape including myself and friends. (My group Animal Nightlife played early concerts there along with Culture Club, Spandau Ballet and Musical Youth). The scene was blossoming through a whole network of bars and clubs. Safe sex had not yet been advocated, neither had the government’s “Don’t Die of Ignorance” leaflet campaign. It seemed to be abstain or die. Aids awareness was bad for business. As the Eighties proceed in the TV drama each gay character has to deal with the possibility of an early and lonely death if the dreaded health-test proved positive… / Continued at Apolarisview

➢ Read Andy’s full review – It’s A Sin: Pitch-perfect drama about the worst of times

➢ Catch up on the whole series of It’s A Sin online at All 4

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: More background discussion about the making of It’s A Sin

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