Category Archives: Pop 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 ➤ When fans first screamed for Spandau and two climbed up to their window

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

8 May, 1982: Now identified! 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

40
YEARS
ON

■ 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.”
➢ Click through to read all about 8 May 1982 – the return of The Scream to British pop

Yes says Jan: that’s me shinning up
the drainpipe in 1982

■ A 30 YEAR-OLD MYSTERY HAS BEEN SOLVED. At the climax to Spandau Ballet’s first national tour in 1982 fan mania broke out on a level comparable to the 1960s. When their single Instinction crashed into the UK charts with freshly injected energy from producer Trevor Horn, three extra tour dates were added in May. After the show in Liverpool, the creative birthplace of British pop music, a crowd of about 500 fans mobbed the stage door at the fabled Empire theatre. A shadow had only to fall across the band’s dressing room window for screams to erupt in the street. Two girls then decided to shin the drainpipe and beat the window with their handbags until they were let in…

➢ Click through for more about the girls who entered Spandau’s dressing room via the window

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

➢ 1982, How Spandau put Peter Capaldi on the road
to play the new Doctor Who

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1966 ➤ The interview that made John Lennon US public enemy number one

Evening Standard,Maureen Cleave, Lennon, interview, More popular than Jesus, How does a Beatle live?

First published in the London Evening Standard, March 4, 1966

Maureen Cleave, 1964, Evening Standard❚ MAUREEN CLEAVE [left] died this week aged 87. She was a long-time colleague and friend who was refreshing to know and a perfectionist at work. She was the author of this landmark piece of journalism in 1966 in which Beatle John Lennon said ironically: “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” Bang in the middle of the Swinging 60s, at the height of Beatlemania, the most successful pop group in history became possibly the most hated. In America’s Bible Belt, outrage sent fans out to burn The Beatles’ records and radio stations round the world banned their music. The Fab Four never played live concerts again.

Maureen had written the first significant critique of the band in the London Evening Standard in February 1963, headlined “Why The Beatles create all that frenzy”. What she identified was the band’s unique stage presence while acknowledging the Liverpudlian scallywags as fresh young jokers in the Max Miller cheeky-chappie mould. This kick-started her career as probably the most clear-sighted interviewer of her generation and her survey in 1966, “How does a Beatle live?” still makes a riveting read as John Lennon guides her through his 22-room home deep in the Surrey banker-cum-oligarch belt…

➢ Read on at Shapers of the 80s:
1966, More popular than Jesus – Maureen Cleave’s full Lennon interview from the Evening Standard in 1966

Beatles, bonfires,More popular than Jesus, 1966

Christian outrage in 1966: public bonfires were organised in Alabama, Texas and Florida to burn The Beatles’ records

➢ If ever a journalist had a quote taken out of context and rehashed evermore, it was Maureen Cleave – The Times obituary, Nov 2021

➢ Once the Beatles had become the most famous entertainers in the world, Cleave witnessed at first hand the destructive force of modern celebrity – Daily Telegraph obituary, Nov 2021

➢ Journalist who was close to the Beatles and known as one of Fleet Street’s most exacting interviewers – Guardian obituary, Nov 2021

MAUREEN FILMED MEETING
BOB DYLAN IN 1965…

…DISCUSSED HERE IN 2000…

Maureen Cleave elaborates on 1965’s interview with Bob Dylan (above), filmed by D A Pennebaker for his documentary Don’t Look Back. The discussion below is extracted from The Bridge, Number 6, Spring 2000 (courtesy of @bob_notes). Click on image to enlarge…

Maureen Cleave, Bob Dylan, Don't Look Back, interview, DA Pennebaker, Matt Tempest, TheBridge

…AND AGAIN IN 2011

Blogger Stephen McCarthy explored this filmed interview with Bob Dylan in the light of his conversion to Christianity in 1978. We see Maureen Cleave ask Dylan: “Do you ever read the Bible?” because she hears echoes of its ideas in so many Dylan songs. Yet Dylan seemed uneager to follow that line of questioning.

McCarthy writes: “Remember now, this was prior to the recording of songs like Highway 61 Revisited which begins with the lines, “Oh God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son’. Abe says, ‘Man, you must be puttin’ me on’” … Granted there were allusions to The Bible in earlier songs, such as Gates of Eden etc, but in my opinion, it was fairly perceptive of Maureen Cleave to have discerned the religious thread that could be found woven into many of Dylan’s earliest songs. And it also begs the question, did she somehow instinctively suspect that times they were a-changin’ for Bob Dylan in some sort of spiritual sense?”

MAUREEN RECALLS JOHN AND PAUL IN 2013

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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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