Tag Archives: Concert

2018 ➤ Dad band Spandau preen with pride for Ross their newly adopted son

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A confident debut with Spandau Ballet: Ross William Wild at Subterania last night

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Ross William Wild’s debut with Spandau Ballet: from left, Martin, Ross, Steve and Gary

AND WHAT TOUR DE FORCE the entire band made of Spandau Ballet’s rebirth last night to showcase their new singer Ross William Wild who effortlessly filled the space onstage vacated by Tony Hadley. At the age of 30 Aberdeen-reared Ross could easily be the son of any of the Spandau dads around him, yet he had infused new energy into them to inspire one of the tightest all-round performances in recent years. He embodies all a lead singer should: energy, confidence, instantly likeability and a strong singing voice that almost never sounds like his predecessor.

Ross was announced by the tabloids as an Elvis Presley impersonator so it was a relief that this is not what we saw or heard: in fact the inflexions in his singing voice do reflect his principal experience in musical theatre, most recently in The Million Dollar Quartet, The Witches of Eastwick, and We Will Rock You. And though in the Noughties he was the lead singer in a nu-metal band called Lethal Dosage, Ross performs with shoulders, arms, hips, feet – in fact, his entire body just as you’d expect in a stage musical.

pop music, media, rebirth, Ross William Wild, Spandau Ballet, concert, spandauballetlive, Subterania,

Spandau’s rebirth set list

From Spandau’s nostalgically involved opening hit Through the Barricades, Ross made each of the set’s 13 hit numbers his own (with almost as many changes of shirt!).

Spotlit on a darkened stage, his first three minutes were a vocal slow-burn alongside a masterly Gary Kemp on solo guitar. It was a daring move to persuade us to listen. By the second line, as he gave vibrato to the lyric, Ross was evidently “feeling strong”, and from here on he introduced us to his voice in gentle stages, slowly raising the temperature, until the pause. . . Then: bam-bam! Keeble’s drums announced the bombast of Barricades proper, and Ross let rip to command centre-stage, amid the familiar Spandau front-line on vocals. They climaxed with a big sound in an intimate clubby space, up close to 500 of their fans. What a statement of intent!

HEAR ROSS’S FIRST VERSE OF ‘BARRICADES’


Ross excelled in another emotional classic Only When You Leave, had the audience eating out of his spiralling hand for Round and Round, pogoing through Lifeline, and by the encore the hot summer’s evening had him stripped down to a vest as he gloriously re-energised To Cut a Long Story Short to sound like a brand-new number. Amazingly, at the bar afterwards, Ross said he was intrigued by its lyrics since he first heard this hit from 1980, but read none of Gary Kemp’s meaning into it or the lyrical quotation it contains. He imagines it is set in the first world war trenches and reflects the strange solitude of the soldier.

➢ Click to hear Rusty Egan’s 2h16m deejay set
recorded live at the Subterania Club before
Spandau Ballet’s rebirth concert

The band’s families and friends turned out along with veteran Blitz Kids and Beat Routers (smashing to see you again, genial doorman Ollie O’Donnell) who could all be seen grooving to Rusty Egan’s unique mixes at the after-party. Sentimental as ever, Martin Kemp had announced from the stage that last night’s venue, Subterania beneath Westway at Portobello Road, was chosen because in its days as Acklam Hall community centre, the original Spandau lineup had played a benefit there under their early name, Gentry, on Saturday 24 February 1979. In the after-bash I recognised the curly-haired photographer Denis O’Regan who was at work with his camera. Spookily I’d just posted one of his seminal band images here at Shapersofthe80s on my own tribute revisit to 1980 when Denis had posed the band in his studio and uplit them to create the dramatic shot of Spandau which became the expressionist motif of their live performance that spring at the Scala Cinema.

Verdicts from the band on their young vocalist are breathless. Gary Kemp said: “Ross’s great talent and passion has given us the confidence to continue.” Drummer John Keeble who drove the show with his usual percussive enthusiasm said: “I bonded with Ross over our mutual love of rock music. He may have come up through the theatres but he loves bands like Tool.” Steve Norman added: “He’s also a right nice bloke. We struck lucky.” [I often wonder whether Steve realises just how richly musical his own sax playing is! Ben Webster will be smiling benignly at this.]

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At the after-party: Ross William Wild shares song-writing ambitions with Steve Norman’s son Jaco

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Patrolling the audience during Spandau’s rebirth gig: their trusty manager Steve Dagger evidently chuffed to bits at their new singer

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: The Spandau show must go on and Oh, the Wild voice!

➢ More Spandau Ballet at Twitter where a one-off concert is now booking for Apollo Hammersmith on 29 October

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2018 ➤ That Spandau comeback: breaking news about the venue

New Romantics,youth culture, London, Spandau Ballet, comeback, breaking news, concert, vocalist,

Click on image to visit Spandau’s website in a new window – from 10am May 31

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Whither Spandau? Expect a bombshell today!

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: So who can fill Tony Hadley’s big Ballet shoes?

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➤ How Bowie threaded blue notes through his final surge of creativity

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Bowie as a projected image in the video for Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)

“If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of. Go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting” – David Bowie

THE MOST GRIPPING SEQUENCES in the new TV documentary about Bowie’s final surge of creativity are those which assemble every musician in the bands he worked with from 2012 to the end. Each band re-enacts pivotal moments when they rehearsed the music, inspired by his lyrics, and laid down the tracks for the albums The Next Day and Blackstar. Particularly revealing is the session when pure jazz soloists created the nerve-tingling Sue (Or in a Season of Crime), which Bowie added to his 2014 “best-of” collection, Nothing Has Changed.

To mark the first anniversary of the star’s death, this weekend BBC2 screened David Bowie: The Last Five Years, Francis Whately’s sequel to his other superb documentary Five Years broadcast in 2013. The role of jazz in Bowie’s musical temperament seldom gets discussed, though his producer Tony Visconti says the jazz influence had always been there in the music but underneath the surface. As a small child Bowie heard a jazz band and right away said: “I’m going to learn the saxophone. When I grow up, I’m going to play in [this] band. So I persuaded my dad to get me a kind of a plastic saxophone on hire purchase.”

In 2013 in New York he met Maria Schneider, a jazz composer, handed her a demo disc and asked her to extemporise around a tune called Sue. In turn, she told him he had to listen to this sax player Donny McCaslin and without missing a beat Bowie went straight into the studio with his group and Maria and out came possibly the purest jazz number of his career, a discomfiting tale of infidelity. It won Schneider a Best Arrangement Grammy in 2016.

➢ Watch the Donny McCaslin Group working
on Bowie’s Blackstar

Click any pic below to launch slideshow

REVIEWS OF THE LAST FIVE YEARS TV DOC

➢ A thrilling portrait of a late-life renaissance
– Jasper Rees at the Arts Desk

The opening yielded much joyful footage of Bowie goofing around on the Reality tour (2003), seeming much more like one of the boys than he ever managed with Tin Machine. The band still seemed spooked at the memory of his collapse, before he was carted off to retirement in an ambulance.

Maria Schneider was one of many musicians – three complete bands – who re-formed to walk through the creation of the music. Drummer Zachary Alford still looked shocked at the NDA handed him as he showed up to work on The Next Day. “If I said anything about it,” remembered bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, “I would be in big trouble legally.” Nobody was asked if Bowie really would have sued his collaborators for spilling the beans.

The recent collaborators reflected on the extent to which the new music was steeped in the past. But there was also good stuff from the old lags who worked (and sometimes slept) with Bowie in the feather-cut era: Ideally there would be a DVD with extras featuring much more from each of them. Chief keeper of the flame Tony Visconti sat at a console and played excerpts of Bowie’s unaccompanied vocal takes. On Blackstar came the haunting sound of Bowie wheezing like an ancient mariner fighting for every last scrap of breath. . . / Continued online

➢ A treat and a treatise on music’s departed genius
– by James Hall, Daily Telegraph

The Last Five Years wove previously unheard Bowie interview material with on-screen contributions from collaborators including producer Tony Visconti. The access and insights were faultless. Whately’s programme was essentially a treatise on artistic rebirth. And it showed that although Bowie’s musical style constantly changed, the themes that preoccupied him — alienation, escape, the notion of fame — were there until the end.

During his final creative burst, Bowie gradually revealed to collaborators that he was ill. In the most poignant scene, we learned that Bowie only discovered his cancer was terminal three months before he died. This was in October 2015 when he was filming the video for Lazarus, in which he sings the line “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. Bowie worked and cared and joked until the end. Through tears, Visconti said that he was at ‘the top of his game’. . . / Continued online

➢ David Bowie: What have we learned since his death? Some astounding new Bowie facts
have come to light – via The Guardian

70TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE CONCERT IN LONDON

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Brixton tribute concert for Bowie: Gail Ann Dorsey singing Young Americans with Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman. (Photo: Getty)

❏ On what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday his friend the actor Gary Oldman gathered at the Brixton Academy a 30-strong all-star lineup of musicians who had collaborated throughout his career, with some glorious orchestral and choral support. The show is the first in a run of gigs around the world taking place in cities that have a strong connection with Bowie and his work.

The London concert featured Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, Mark Plati, Gerry Leonard, Sterling Campbell, Zachary Alford, Holly Palmer, Catherine Russell, plus such guests as Tony Hadley and Simon Lebon. Special highlights saw Gail Ann Dorsey singing Young Americans with Spandau’s Steve Norman on sax; and an audience singalong to Life on Mars? led by Adrian Belew and gifted vocals from Tom Chaplin from the band Keane. Plenty of live videos at YouTube.



➢ 10 Jan update: Gary Kemp joins his friend Robert Elms on BBC Radio London to discuss David Bowie, one year on. (Catch up on iPlayer for one month: starts at 13mins)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah

➢ 13 Jan: Iggy Pop’s tribute to The Songs of David Bowie on BBC Radio 6 Music and iPlayer for another month

➢ As a confused teenager living in Seventies suburbia, singer Andy Polaris retraces his obsession with Bowie

➢ Commemorating Bowie at the BBC

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➤ Prince live in London puts the afro back in fashion!

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Last night’s secret gig: Prince live at the Electric Ballroom in London backed by his new band 3rdEyeGirl. (Photograph PA)

❚ HERE’S THE GODLIKE ONE live onstage in the Electric Ballroom at about 1am this morning all in black with a furry sleeveless top plus wild afro hair. Prince was backed by his new band 3rdEyeGirl and his audience consisted of whoever ventured out in last night’s lashing storm.

His first London gig since he played 20 nights at the O2 arena seven years ago opened with a slow version of I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man and Prince told the smattering of fans: “You sound like ten thousand. We love each and every one of you.” His manager Kiran Sharma tweeted: “If you were there… you know :) See you tomorrow! Same place.”

Prince, now aged 55, said he hoped to play “iconic” London venues such as Ronnie Scott’s jazz club and the legendary 60s club the Bag o’ Nails, where Jimi Hendrix performed and recently reopened.


According to the passionate lifelong Prince fan Goldies Parade a series of “guerrilla gigs”, which mark the release of the PlectrumElectrum album, is expected to be held at the Electric Ballroom for the remainder of the week. Info is sparce but leaked out following the long-awaited “press conference” in the Leyton, east London, living room of Lianne La Havas, the British soul singer whose debut album became iTunes Album of the Year 2012. There Prince played two acoustic tracks, Pretzelbodylogic and FunkNRoll, bathed in purple light.

The London jaunt is, he said, “open-ended – we’re going to be here until people don’t want to hear us any more”. 3rdEyeGirl consists of Danish bassist Ida Nielsen, Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis and American drummer Hannah Ford.

Ticketing for further dates is to be handled by one outlet, but to avoid touts cashing in, tickets for this week – price £6 !!! “because it’s a new band” – will be available only on the door and only one per person.

This year of course marks the 30th anniversary of Prince’s astonishing debut album Purple Rain.

➢ On video: the monster queue for tickets in Camden at 3pm!

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First pic tweeted last night: Prince live at the Electric Ballroom. Photograph @stephenbudd

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➤ Thief duo take a trip into the 90s

Fin Munro, Charlotte Mallory, electronic music, pop, Thief, concert, review, London, Hoxton Bar

Thief in Hoxton: languid romance from vocalist Charlotte Mallery. (Photography Shapersofthe80s)

❚ A DECADE SHIFT HAS MOVED Thief’s sound into another era of Britpop. Wednesday’s live set of half a dozen numbers at the Hoxton Bar and Grill suggests that the electro duo’s early 80s vibe has acquired the garagey feel of the 90s, while still evincing languid romance.

Mesmeric hints of Sade layered with essence of Massive Attack result in laid-back electronic lounge music with kickin’ beats and bleeps. The single Friend Lover becomes a mildly melancholy love song as delivered by its lyricist, drama-studies graduate Charlotte Mallory, yet it is propelled by the optimistic harmonics and percussion of Fin Munro, keyboardist, deejay, producer and London club-host. As they told radio deejay Gary Crowley in an interview last month, their songwriting partnership pursues the themes of soul and emotion, complicated feelings and unrequited love.

An EP is planned for release within the next couple of months. Meanwhile catch Thief again on Thursday Jan 30 at The Notting Hill Arts Club.

Fin Munro, Charlotte Mallory, electronic music, pop, Thief, concert, review, London, Hoxton Bar,

Thief in Hoxton: electronics by Fin Munro, vocals by Charlotte Mallery. (Photography Shapersofthe80s)

➢ Listen to Thief interviewed by 80s pathfinder Gary Crowley – Tuesdays at 7pm on Amazing Radio (not forgetting his Music Machine, Saturdays at 6pm on BBC London)

➢ Fin Munro interviewed at Farah, Feb 6:
We’re a two piece, Charlotte sings and I play the music. We’ve been influenced by bands like Sade, Everything but the Girl, but also more recent acts like SBTRKT, James Blake and Purity Ring. We’re an electronic band but we definitely have influences of soul and R&B in our songs… / Continued online

➢ Charlotte Mallory blogging at Huffington Post, Feb 6:
Fin and I first met at a house party four years ago. He’d just been to see The XX at Maida Vale studios earlier that day, so was feeling musically inspired to start something new. Although we didn’t form Thief that year, we began sending each other music we liked and kept in contact while I was studying at Sussex Uni in Brighton and he was DJing and running club nights in London… / Continued online

FRIEND LOVER AT SOUNDCLOUD

Don’t Let Go (En Vogue Cover) AT SOUNDCLOUD


➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Fin Munro plunges into love and takes a walk on the wild side

➢ Thief at Facebook

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