Spandau Ballet in happier days, their 2014 reunion: John Keeble, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp. (Photography Scarlet Page)
◼ BREAKING NEWS TODAY IN TWO WAVES: At midday 57-year-old singer Tony Hadley suddenly tweeted that he was “no longer a member of Spandau Ballet”, the London band who pioneered the New Romantic movement in the 1980s. Two hours after the star quit the band, its official website announced a Lazarus-style miracle: that the remaining four musicians “have now made the decision to move on as a band” without Big Tone. If they can indeed rise from the dead, who can possibly replace his signature bel canto baritone which has been central to the supergroup’s musical signature for almost 40 years?
When Spandau’s Soul Boys Atonement Tour ended in 2015, Hadley immediately returned to touring his solo act, is currently playing summer festivals as a solo artist with his own supporting band and touring the USA during August. Each member of the band has also looked to his own projects. Then in August 2016 Martin Kemp told ITV in a very relaxed way that another Spandau get-together was unlikely. When asked: “You’ve not fallen out again, have you?” Martin said: “We fall out when you come back off the tour and you pick up your case at Heathrow Airport and then we walk away, say ‘See you a bit later then’. We fall out, that’s how it works.”
Speculation about a successor is rife. Watch this space for further news.
“ The band were offered a string of lucrative opportunities that Tony didn’t want to be involved with. There was talk of a new album and tours including a huge US headline tour – the UK’s biggest festivals had offers on the table, too. But Tony opted to focus on his solo career, meaning everyone missed out.
Tony has been billed as being ‘formerly of’ Spandau Ballet on several tour posters. There had been tensions brewing between Tony and the rest of the group for almost two years, since he decided he did not want to perform with them. This was the final straw, and Tony had an ultimatum – take part in Spandau or quit entirely.
Things have festered over the past year or so and relations have been at an all-time low. By declining Spandau’s opportunities, Tony was pulling the strings for the entire group. But now he is no longer a member they can continue without him. ”
WE ALL SAW THIS COMING: REMEMBER THOSE EARLIER HADLEY BOMBSHELLS
Spandau Ballet’s post-gig interview at SXSW in Texas: Steve Norman finds the humour in St John Keeble’s healing homilies
❚ NOT TO BE MISSED! Freshly posted at YouTube is yet another heart-on-sleeve prequel to Spandau Ballet’s promised Reconciliation and Redemption tour. A group interview on video unexpectedly becomes a very moving and positive expression of the band’s solidarity as friends. Famously “sticky moments” from the kamikaze wrecking of the band at the height of its success and the atomic fall-out during the 90s are glancingly referred to in the spirit of mild self-flagellation. The five musicians who defined Britain’s New Romantic movement are discussing Soul Boys of the Western World, their warts-and-all documentary biopic premiered last month at SXSW, the cool new-media festival at Austin in Texas.
“The film is pretty honest and hard for us to watch at times,” says songwriter Gary Kemp. “You can see in the film I was a bit precious.”
“That Kray twin moment [a reference to the Kemps making a feature film about the Krays in 1990]: for me that’s really embarrassing cos me and Gary’s answer is really conceited, but that’s who we were at the time,” says brother and bass player Martin. “The film lets us examine where we went wrong.”
SOUL BOYS SET FOR CANNES
The Spandau Ballet documentary that proved a hit at SXSW in March, is to be screened to buyers at the➢ Cannes Marché next month, handled by UK sales company Metro International
“We’re human, we didn’t always get it right, we were young kids thrust into the limelight,” says singer Tony Hadley.
“We went through that terrible time facing each other in court at one point,” says instrumentalist Steve Norman. “It was awful. I put my saxophone on the top shelf and didn’t want anything to do with it for about four or five years cos it was symbolic of Spandau.”
Throughout the interview St John of the Drums emerges as the Kentish Town savant with a healing prayer for the sins that destroyed lifelong friendships between the five soulboys. “You can’t be revisionist,” Keeble observes. “It was a major thing when we got back together five years ago. You cannot unknow stuff that’s gone on but I think everyone felt in their hearts that it was now better to focus on the future. The whole world’s still in front of us.”
Click any pic to launch slideshow
Lori Majewski chairs Spandau Ballet’s post-gig interview in Austin last month. Screengrabs from SXSW video
Tony Hadley says: We didn’t aways get it right
Steve Norman tells how he put his saxophone out of reach
What’s sad from a fan’s perspective is that the live gig in Texas which followed the film’s screening was the first and only time Spandau have played together since their year-long Reformation tour ended in 2010. That comeback tour was a sensational success, just as this gig has proved to be. The video interviewer, writer Lori Majewski, called Spandau a formidable live band: “I was surprised how tight you guys were, how great the live show was!” Entertainment Weekly reported the gig exuding “a rare atmosphere for a very youth-centrict fest, and a truly inspired musical moment – not bad for a bunch of fifty-somethings”.
The documentary has received keen reviews for its sole use of vintage footage and director George Hencken’s intelligent deployment of the band’s hit tunes from the 80s. The SXSW interview also reveals that at the 1985 Live Aid concert Steve Norman shot some under-cover footage backstage where cameras officially weren’t allowed. John Keeble remarks on the amount of original footage in their movie which the band themselves had never seen before – much shot by Martin Kemp as a Super8 enthusiast – while there’s plenty more footage that didn’t make the cut. So come on, lads. Let’s stage a premiere for the Spandau out-takes.
Click on video title above, then scroll to No 7 in the playlist
❏ This meeting of travellers at a crossroads in Austin has all the signs of a mystical resurrection sent from heaven, yet we’re told a Spandau tour is unlikely to happen this side of New Year. How patient must fans be? They had to wait three years for this film to be finished, having evolved naturally from a gifted film-maker recording the Reformation tour.
Two superb books on Spandau have been in preparation for years: one, a smart limited edition photobook, still awaits a strategic publication date to support a career jump-start.
The other was commissioned ten years ago, yes ten, in a wishful gesture of reconciliation while band members roamed the wilderness of solo careers. The showbiz writer Paul Simper was rightly deemed the only person qualified and trusted to capture the fascinating inside story of Spandau Ballet. His manuscript was revised five years ago to boost the Reformation tour, then publication was postponed in order to embrace the selfsame Reformation tour. His gripping text is far more thorough than many rock biogs because of the extraordinary times it describes and the wide-ranging context his research has captured. Currently, Simper is re-retuning his words which could become the book-of-the-film – once the film is given a release date. “Hearing the band talk so eloquently and emotionally gives me new impetus,” he said today. “It’s thrilling to hear them looking to the future.”
For the fans camped at the tiny Oasis of Hope, the road to truth and reconciliation for the band who’ve been pals since schooldays is a long one, as it has been for post-apartheid South Africa, and for Ireland since partition. But y’know, those two were nations with histories riven by British politics. Not a chart-topping pop group. Why doesn’t somebody ask Jerry for his Final Word then we can all get back to the music?
National treasure: Jarvis Cocker on the road again this year with the original members of Pulp. Photographed by Shannon McClean
❚ ARE THEY MAD? They’re letting Jarvis Cocker into the States in April, with his Britpopping band who reunited last year! Following those hugely popular festival dates in Europe, and several in the UK which re-established Jarvis as the single most credible face of indie pop, Pulp in the US kicks off April 11 at Radio City Music Hall, storms into two Coachellas, sidles over to San Francisco, and that’s not all… parachutes into Spain again in May, so get booking!
On top of which, the retro-obsessive site The Second Disc reports the historic background to remastered reissues on Feb 20 of Pulp’s first three albums on the Fire Records label, on which the band spent a tempestuous and frustrating decade into the 90s. The awesome and undeniably strange albums It (1983) and Freaks (1987) and Separations (1991-2) have been expanded to include a host of non-LP singles and B-sides. Fire claims: “They cover a staggering sonic range from the pastoral, acoustic sounds of It, to the darkly romantic Freaks and the disco-tinged Separations. They point to Jarvis Cocker’s varied sources of musical inspiration and show a band in the process of finding their own unique voice.”
Cocker’s exceptional and seeringly honest song-writing skills were finally endorsed when the distinguished literary house of Faber published his lyrics last year under the title Mother, Brother, Lover. Read more about his creative coming of age and view Jarvis in a video interview where he protests: “If I’m a national treasure, dust me off.”
Y SUS CONCIERTOS INCLUYEN ESPAÑA
➢ Pulp, confirmados para el festival murciano SOS 4.8 — Pulp estarán en el SOS 4.8 de Murcia. Sí señor. Finalmente era verdad. Tras semanas de rumores, un misterioso anuncio en su twitter en el que dejaban caer que habría más conciertos de Jarvis Cocker & co en 2012 tras su exitosa reunión el año pasado (actuación en el Primavera Sound incluida), y la confirmación de su presencia en Coachella, el festival murciano se ha llevado el gato al agua en cuanto a fechas en España… / El informe siguió en crazyminds
Together last July at Berlin’s Melt festival: the original Pulp line-up fronted by Jarvis Cocker
➢ Choose “View full site” – then in the blue bar atop your mobile page, click the three horizontal lines linking to many blue themed pages with background articles.
MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
“See David Johnson’s fabulously detailed website Shapers of the 80s to which I am hugely indebted” – Political historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book Who Dares Wins, 2019
“The (velvet) goldmine that is Shapers of the 80s” – Verdict of Chris O’Leary, respected author and blogger who analyses Bowie song by song at Pushing Ahead of the Dame
“The rather brilliant Shapers of the 80s website” – Dylan Jones in his Sweet Dreams paperback, 2021
A UNIQUE HISTORY
➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s ➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates ➢ ROLL OVER THE MENU at page top to go deeper into the past ➢ FOR NEWS & MONTH BY MONTH SEARCH scroll down this sidebar
❏ Header artwork by Kat Starchild shows Blitz Kids Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise Brazier, Judi Frankland and Steve Strange, with David Bowie at centre in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes
VINCENT ON AIR 2022
✱ Deejay legend Robbie Vincent returned to JazzFM on Sundays 1-3pm in 2021… Catch Robbie’s JazzFM August Bank Holiday 2020 session thanks to AhhhhhSoul with four hours of “nothing but essential rhythms of soul, jazz and funk”.
SEARCH our 800 posts or ZOOM DOWN TO THE ARCHIVE INDEX
UNTOLD BLITZ STORIES
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
CHEWING THE FAT
✱ Jawing at Soho Radio on the 80s clubland revolution (from 32 mins) and on art (@55 mins) is probably the most influential shaper of the 80s, former Wag-club director Chris Sullivan (pictured) with editor of this website David Johnson
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