Tag Archives: fans

➤ Spandau fan Jan says Yes that’s me shinning up the drainpipe in 1982

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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

◼ 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. I was in the crowd snapping their daring climb, but for years the girls’ identities remained unknown. Now, the first teenager helped through the window and into Martin Kemp’s arms has been in touch with Shapers of the 80s to admit ownership of that handbag after all these years. She is Janet Gargan who still lives in the area and, naturally, is planning to see the band at Liverpool’s Echo Arena next March on their 2015 tour.

She emailed saying: “I had no idea your pic ever existed or that anyone remembered the drainpipe incident. Until recently, it had remained a family story but just goes to show your past can haunt you at any time. This really has been a blast from the past. I was at school at the time and I climbed up there with my school friend Jeanette, although it’s been many years since I’ve seen her.

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Triumph! Jan tells her friends she and Jeanette made it into Spandau Ballet’s dressing room at the Empire, 1982. Snapped by © Shapersofthe80s

“I wanted to meet Tony Hadley and my friend was crazy about Martin Kemp. I do remember the boys being in complete shock about what we had done and signed all our merchandise. They gave us a drink (soft of course!) and sent us on our way – not down the drainpipe thankfully! I have thought in recent years how utterly gentlemanly they all were and very kind to us.”

The second climber Jeanette fell into the arms of sax-player Steve Norman. He retells the story on ITV’s recent bio-show True Gold: “We heard this tapping noise at the window and this girl had climbed the drainpipe to get a look at the band two floors up.” Tony Hadley adds: “It was like being the Beatles – mass hysteria.”

To cap it all, Jan has another revelation to make. “Spandau Ballet played in Liverpool again during the True tour of 1983 when the same friend and I left the concert early and headed to the Atlantic Tower hotel where we knew they were staying. Lots of fans turned up there but we befriended two elderly guests of the hotel who took us in under the guise of being ‘grand-daughters’. We were so worried about our cover being blown that we jumped into the lift of the hotel as fast as we could and as the doors closed we turned around to find the band in the lift! It was Tony Hadley who recognised us and said ‘You are the two girls who climbed the drainpipe last year!’ This was definitely a crazy experience but all true. It’d be great to know if the band remember that encounter too.”

Looking back now, Jan describes those adventures as hilarious though fraught with sheer determination. “It wasn’t unusual for me to go to great lengths to meet people at that time. The same friend and I also met Depeche Mode when they played Liverpool in the 80s – yes, staying in the same hotel. They were supported by Matt Fretton and we sat in the hotel having a chat with the band when a lady came out of the function room and asked if we would all like to join their party for her daughter’s 18th! Of course it would have been rude not too!”

Today Jan the ardent pop fan makes her living as a social worker and, according to a friend, “spends all her time helping other people”. For professional reasons she did not want her photograph to be published and, even though I thought I’d found her on Facebook, this turns out to be somebody else of the same name.

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Mobbed again a year later, 1983: Martin Kemp and John Keeble sign autographs through the fence at the back of Spandau’s Liverpool hotel. Snapped by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: More on 8 May 1982 – the return of The Scream to British pop


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

➢ Jan 17 update: Shock change to Spandau Ballet’s North America live tour 2015 – Spandau’s world still tour kicks off 23–25 Jan in California, but with other US and Canada concert dates rescheduled for April–May. The European leg kicks off in Dublin 3 March. Click through for complete list

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➤ Calling fashionistas for their tales of Spandau Ballet in the New Romantic 80s

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

IS THIS YOU? May 8, 1982: 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

❚ WERE YOU A FAN of Spandau Ballet in the 1980s? Here’s an appeal for your experiences from a reputable documentary film-maker…

We are looking to speak to people who lived through the early years of the band’s success in the 80s for a BBC 4 documentary on the history of music and fashion in post-war Britain.

We are particularly interested in hearing from people who took fashion inspiration from them and the New Romantics scene and may still have some clothing from that period. If you can identify with this and wouldn’t mind speaking to a member of the team about your experiences please contact Lucy Joyner: ljoyner [ a t ] oxfordscientificfilms.tv

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Unrivalled adulation in the early 80s: Tony Hadley faces the audience during Spandau Ballet’s Diamond tour of 1982. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

DID YOU WITNESS POP HISTORY IN THE MAKING?

❏ Who are the two Liverpool music fans so keen to meet their idols that they shinned the drainpipe at the Empire theatre leading to the dressing room of Spandau Ballet, Britain’s premier New Romantic band of the 80s? After knocking on the window, the girls achieved their goal when bass player Martin Kemp helped them to safety inside.

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.”

What we had all witnessed was the return of the true teenybop scream, the continuous bellow from the lungs, little heard since the days of the Beatles. Security men and women were clearly caught out by the pandemonium as they wrestled to persuade the screamers back to their seats. One Empire veteran said that night he’d heard nothing like it since the Bay City Rollers in the mid-1970s.

A crowd of at least 500 fans surrounded the stage door afterwards and a shadow had only to fall across a dressing-room window for the scream to start again in the street. Two girls then decided to shin the drainpipe and beat the second-storey window with their handbags until they were let in.

Police with batons eventually arrived and the band managed to escape through the front doors of the theatre, but only after two decoy departures had been staged. Even so, in the murderous dash through the crowd packing the pavement, saxophonist Steve Norman lost a bracelet and singer Tony Hadley a chunk of his scalp. As their coach pulled away, I was stranded on the kerb photographing the mayhem.

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Inside the Liverpool Empire, May 8, 1982: fans shocked security staff with the roar that greeted Spandau Ballet. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

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➢ An early Spandau Ballet date at the Scala cinema described above in The Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics – in the Observer Music Magazine 2009

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➤ No flash, no mob, as Occupy Bowie proves a damp squib

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More like Freddie Starrdust: The Bowie Experience tribute act outside the V&A yesterday in shabby Earthling coat and filthy lace. Photograph by Andy Polaris

Occupy Bowie , V&A, exhibitions, fans,flash mob,David Bowie❚ “CALLING ALL MISFITS, ANDROGYNES, glam rockers, goblin kings, scary monsters and super creeps: you are invited to a gathering on the steps of the V&A on the last day of the Bowie exhibition, 11 August. Together we will create a tableau vivant.” This call to arms by an ad hoc faction calling itself Occupy Bowie posted a tortuous Tumblr page that dared to translate this difficult French phrase as a “living picture” and illustrated several examples from a long tradition blah blah of motionless, silent models in poses plastiques blah blah often theatrically lit blah blah.

Another page at Facebook declared: “In honour of music, art and David Bowie, it will be a spectacle. It is a participatory event for visual extremists of all stripes. Don’t call us a flash mob.”

As it happens, this tribal turnout by a few dozen fans yesterday afternoon proved to be less a flash mob, more a naff huddle. There was a singalong to Rebel Rebel, but no truly glam Bowie persona in sight, what with the low-rent mimes and the generally jumble-sale approach to costume topped with nylon wigs that could have come from Ridley Road Market. By midnight we could count only three photographs of this act of mass homage posted online, then a couple more today.

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As it happens, Andy Polaris, who lives in East London, claims he was “passing by” the V&A in West London at 3pm and snapped the faithful engaged in their mystical rites. His verdict: “It looked more Freddie Starrdust than Ziggy Stardust.” This referred to the shabby Earthling playing guitar who is known as The Bowie Experience, a professional tribute impersonator wearing the least glam costume of any Bowie incarnation. Polaris said: “The women looked a lot better than the men and the girl with the dark hair and Aladdin streak was the best.” Funny, that. Even the apparent ringleaders themselves, University of the Arts types subtly disguised on Facebook as Occu PyBowie, let the side down in scruffy old jeans. They’d never have let each other get away with that in 1973, let alone the Blitz in 1980.

Brilliant sunshine put paid to any “theatrical lighting” to compare with the photographs of Ryan Schude or the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects Ball, 1931, that Occupy Bowie had cited as inspiration on that ambitious Tumblr page. Better luck at the exhibition’s Toronto opening in September, lads.

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