■ 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…
LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner taking your calls: Click on this pic to open the live stream at touchmysoul.net in a new window
◼ SHIA LABEOUF INVITES YOU TO RING HIM AND TO#TOUCHMYSOUL – the art collective LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner are standing by, waiting for your calls as part of a new project at Liverpool’s FACT gallery, 11am–6pm GMT from Dec 10–13. Telephone +44 (0)151 808 0771. Or view the live stream. Or visit the gallery in person.
“ Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, it’s safe to say, don’t quite have the same growly charisma as Shia LaBeouf, a world-famous Hollywood actor turned performance artist. Indeed, they look as if they’ve won a competition to hang out with him. But the unlikely trio are adamant that they are an artistic collective, each on an equal footing. Turner wags a metaphorical finger at journalists who have failed to understand this.
“If it’s a positive article, it’s a work by the art collective,” he says. “If it’s negative, it’s by ‘actor Shia LaBeouf’.” He frowns. “It’s very peculiar to write about a work without saying who it’s by.”
But aren’t they like a band, where people are only interested in the singer? “Well,” says Turner, “you don’t say, ‘John Lennon has released his album.’ It’s the Beatles. I’m not comparing us to the Beatles, by the way.”
Since the beginning of 2014 – when LaBeouf heralded his new career by attending the premiere of Nymphomaniac with a paper bag over his head, scrawled with the words “I am not famous any more” – the three have dreamed up projects that have involved LaBeouf interacting directly with the public. “Why does a goat jump?” asks LaBeouf. “There’s an animalistic urge to express love that I can’t express in film”. . . ” / Continued at Guardian Online
Read transcripts of the live stream:
❏ Luke Turner tells uswhat we’re seeing beneath the live video stream: “It’s the three of us typing the fragments of conversation together as there’s only one phone line, so we’re all on it together. Colours just separate the ideas/threads of thought or conversation.”
➢ For four days from 10 Dec 2015 #TOUCHMYSOUL is being streamed live from FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ, as part of the group exhibition Follow, open 11 Dec 2015–21 Feb 2016 (admission free)
❏ Except that the performers didn’t revealany such thing. It was an impossible and ambiguous invitation – “Can you touch my soul?” – since some people insist there’s no such thing as the soul, and whatever it is, a soul is intangible or immaterial and cannot be touched anyway. The OED offers three definitions: “1, The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. 2, A person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity. 3, Emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.”
So what counts as a soul being touched? The TMS artists did not specify, neither before the four-day performance, nor after. The trio gave a post-event interview to Dazed Digital in which they still did not answer these questions. They talked about phoning and listening. The words meaningful and connection and rewarding experience recurred. All are intensely subjective, so how can we or they evaluate the outcome?
Luke Turner said that they wanted to “be receptive to whatever feelings might travel down the phone lines to us over those four days”. Do feelings touch a soul?
Nastja Säde Rönkkö said: “Some people moved us with their sweet energy, laughter, singing, silence, life stories, emotions.” Does all this mean touching a soul?
Shia LaBeouf spoke mostly in blank verse, very little of which made sense: “Connection is to be lived / And the internet is not any less alive.” Hm.
A curator said: “It’s about the framework of the show: what do you think is a real experience?” Ah, good old reality. There you go.
The event seemed to conclude with LaBeouf being tattooed with the words: “You. Now. Wow.” We were shown him being touched by the tattooist’s needle.
A project that doesn’t set out its brief beforehand risks missing its mark. It’s hard for callers to know what they’re expected to do or to evaluate any subsequent touching. The result was yards of telephone transcripts which are available to read online at touchmysoul – mainly touchy-feely, hippy-dippy psycho-babble and precious little enlightenment.
18 FEB UPDATE: A SELECTION OF THE 1,089 CALLS
Jerry Springer’s Final Thought:
“I play a crazy talk-show host, but that’s not me. It’s like an actor playing a role.”
◼ 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.
“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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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
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❏ 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”.
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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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