Tag Archives: Gary Kemp

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

David Bowie, The Last Five Years,TV,video, Sue,

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

tribute ,concert, David Bowie, Steve Norman, London

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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➤ 75 Ballet gigs later, Gary Kemp tackles serious theatre but denounces its obsession with class

Homecoming, Harold Pinter, Gary Kemp, Jamie Lloyd, Gemma Chan, Trafalgar Studios, interview, theatre, London, reviews

Gemma Chan as Ruth, with Gary Kemp as Teddy, rehearsing for The Homecoming at Trafalgar Studios in London. Photograph by Matt Humphrey


➢ Gary Kemp interviewed by Nick Clark in The Independent, 10 Nov, before he opened this week in Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming at Trafalgar Studios:

The play, set in 1965 was written when working-class people didn’t cross into celebrity, or cross classes. Kemp can empathise with the character who left his working-class roots and found home alien upon his return. “I went to grammar school and things became different, more middle class. My parents were definitely working class. My dad was a printer.” He said: “I get that thing about coming home and having a different language to your parents and sometimes using it against them and sometimes feeling terrible because of that.”

Today, he feels class restrictions remain visible, particularly in the acting world. It is, he said, “utterly class orientated. It’s ironic really because it’s incredibly liberal but underneath that facade there lies this need for Oxbridge, a need for the understanding of literature and a need for received pronunciation. Working-class actors are condemned to sitcoms and soap.” He pointed out that the production’s director Lloyd is working class. “That’s as rare as hen’s teeth” . . . / Continued at The Independent online

➢ The Homecoming runs at the Trafalgar Studios, London (0844 871 7632) until 13 February

UPDATE: REVIEWS OF THE HOMECOMING

➢ Michael Billington in the Guardian, 23 Nov:
Fifty years after its London premiere, Harold Pinter’s play continues to puzzle, astonish and delight. Far from treating it as a revered theatrical specimen preserved in aspic, Jamie Lloyd’s excellent revival offers a fresh approach to the play without in any way violating the rhythms of Pinter’s text. . . The Homecoming retains its hold over our imaginations. It can be seen as a Freudian play about sons filled with subconscious Oedipal desires. It can equally be seen as an ethological study of a group of human animals fighting over territory.

Homecoming, Harold Pinter, Gary Kemp, Ron Cook, Jamie Lloyd, Gemma Chan, Trafalgar Studios, interview, theatre, London, reviews

Gemma Chan as Ruth, with Gary Kemp and Ron Cook, in The Homecoming at Trafalgar Studios. Photograph by Marc Brenner


➢ Dominic Maxwell in The Times:
Half a century after it first put Harold Pinter at the forefront of British drama, this 1965 play can still leave audiences provoked, puzzled and, finally, pleased. With its stark but colourful expressionist staging, its swirling bursts of Mod music and its sharp Sixties threads, this is Pinter goes Kafka, domestic drama goes haunted-house horror.

➢ Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph:
Welcome back to Pinter-land, a world of inescapable disquietude which, in Jamie Lloyd’s stripped-back 50th anniversary revival of The Homecoming, is more Hades than Hackney. The gender politics of the play make it Pinter’s most problematic major work. It’s not constructed to invite “debate” – you’re meant to submit to its strange, atavistic logic. . . In broad terms, Lloyd delivers an evening that is intense, committed and often – because of the dialogue – darkly funny.

➢ Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail:
Those with a taste for bleak, absurdist, sexist fantasy will find their needs adequately catered for by the latest Jamie Lloyd production at London’s Trafalgar Studios. . . Pinter’s language is always to be savoured, his patter of lower-middle class cliches so astute. References to Humber Snipes and jam rolls and London Airport and flannel vests evoke an era. Was he ahead of his time in envisaging a career woman liberating herself from a lifeless marriage? Or was bedhopper Harold working off a little fantasy about a woman too free with her favours? I incline to the latter view.

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➤ Catch up on New Romantic landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 890,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly being read here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983

THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — This much-recycled account originally penned by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved. Spandau Ballet songwriter Gary Kemp responded: “A superb piece. It will be referred to historically.”

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

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Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after this heavily fictionalised life story was broadcast in 2010, Shapers of the 80s canvassed this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George myth and in doing so reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually run the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

Sade  1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty musical Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates Slade from Bowie, the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions

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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

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,  1982, Diamond Tour, Martin Kemp, fans, Gary Kemp,Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Peter Capaldi

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.

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

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, ,1980,Scala Cinema, concert,OMM,pop music,
➢ 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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➤ Spandau confirms one-off live reunion gig in Texas – for a tiny elite!

Spandau Ballet,1984,pop music,reunion,Blitz Kids, New Romantics,, Parade, album

Parade’s 30th birthday celebration! In 1984 the fourth studio album by Spandau Ballet yielded two UK Top 10 hits, Only When You Leave and I’ll Fly for You. It introduced the imagery of artist David Band which became the band’s leitmotif

FEB 12 – UPDATE FROM SPANDAU BALLET

Spandau Ballet (Official) – “Awesome Spandau meeting yesterday! 2014 and 2015 are shaping up rather nicely”

FEB 14 – BIG TONE TO HIT THE ROAD

Tickets go on sale for Spandau singer Tony Hadley’s 10-stop UK tour in October, once again with a full orchestra, climaxing at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane

FEB 20 – LIVE REUNION GIG CONFIRMED

Gary Kemp says – “We’re in rehearsals next week!”

❚ SPANDAU BALLET WILL PLAY TOGETHER on March 12 – their first live date in North America since 1985. On the same day that their biopic Soul Boys of the Western World premieres in Austin, Texas, the five Angel Boys will later perform at the Vulcan Gas Company on E 6th Street, a refurbished new entertainment space named after a psychedelic venue from the hippie 60s. It will host 20 gigs during the massive SXSW new-media conference and its music and film festivals.

entertainment

The new Vulcan in Austin: a steam-punk interior and cutting-edge sounds

What will stymie hordes of Spandau’s hopeful American fans is that a registered Music Badge to attend SXSW costs $750 and, even then, does not guarantee admission to specific events.  Platinum and Gold conference delegates are given priority admission before Music and Film Badge holders. Also, the new Vulcan with “an industrial steam-punk feel” is a modest venue – with a typical capacity of 535 – so spare tickets are likely to be thin on the ground. The Festival operates a Queue Card system with updates online, via Venue Status Boards and @sxsw on Twitter. However, before travelling to Austin, Spandau fans are advised to ensure they have secured a ticket (see the comment from SXSW, below). Hints from the Spandau team suggest there may be more news soon.

Elsewhere on the same evening the UK singer Damon Albarn is performing at one of Austin’s 100 venues that stage live music nightly – the town does claim to be the “Live Music Capital of the World”. For three years from 1967 the Vulcan Gas Company on Congress Avenue became its first successful psychedelic music venue, featuring Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Canned Heat, Muddy Waters and other greats, then morphing into the Armadillo World Headquarters with a broader musical bill that embraced Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, blues and jazz.

Jimi Hendrix , Johnny Winter, music, Vulcan Gas Company

The original Vulcan on Congress Avenue with its notorious drainpipe backdrop: Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter playing in 1968

Now in the 30th anniversary year of Spandau Ballet’s fourth album, Parade, one of Britain’s iconic supergroups of the 80s returns to the States.

Tony, Gary, Martin, Steve and John will be flying in to attend the 2pm premiere of their archive-only documentary film, Soul Boys of The Western World. Songwriter Gary Kemp says: “We had the idea because we have a good story and the story has a real arc. It’s about friendship, kids who come from the shadows of the Second World War growing up in the 60s and 70s, a period of great rock music from David Bowie and glam rock. They go through the whole punk experience and then had the experience of the whole New Romantic scene of working-class kids dressing up and doing things that were outrageous against a recession.”

ENTRY TO SXSW EVENTS CANNOT BE GUARANTEED

❏ SXSW says: “As far as films go, tickets will be for sale at the door after delegates with badges and wristbands are seated, if there is room. For the music portion of the event, the situation is very similar. There will most likely be tickets for sale at the door but it varies from venue to venue. After badges and wristband holders are admitted, tickets may be sold if capacity allows. Our best advice is to get to the venue early or contact them to see if they will be selling tickets at the door and also see how long the wristband/badge lines are to judge if you could even get in.”

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet documentary movie

Spandau Ballet,1984,pop music,reunion,Blitz Kids, New Romantics,, Parade, album

2014… Spandau Ballet’s next parade is about to begin!

FIRST REACTIONS FROM THE FANS

Jennifer Schmaltz Robbers Aw, this is so bittersweet! It would be great if you guys could add another show outside of SXSW. It will be hard for a lot of your US fans to swing the SXSW pass.

Ricky Resurreccion $795 for a music badge???? My wife and I huge fans from California and she’d die to see you guys perform. Come on, Gary, help us out here!

Molly Fanton It better be a US tour. Come on guys come to Buffalo, Boston or NYC. I so want to see you guys.

Shell Stringer When are Spandau Ballet going to tour round more local places? Come to The Dome, Doncaster please :-)))

Carlos Hidalgo Regular Sud America

Christine Turner Hopefully another tour Down Under.

Tony Baker Get your sens darn to the Echo @ Liverpool lads

Brigitte Supercan We want you in Italy very soon please

Catriona Stokes Please come to Dublin again, you were fab in 2009 xx

Gregg Daniell Toronto. Canada would live to have you.

Debbie Meyers Praying for anywhere in the USA

Cecy Blue Pax We want a Spandau Ballet concert in South America too

Cristina Martínez Queralt Barcelona waiting for you

Layne Wheeler ok, about that meeting. when are you coming over to the states, anywhere over the atlantic, the wife and I AND our friends will come see you… here is a incentive… I will cook!!

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