❚ SONGWRITER GARY KEMP recalls the 2009-10 Reformation Tour by his pioneering New Romantic band Spandau Ballet, to be screened as a 2 hours 30 mins broadcast on Sky Arts this weekend:
“ The Reformation Tour was a coming back together I never thought would happen. After years of fighting, this tour taught us that being Spandau Ballet is a thing to be proud of. It turned out to be the best and most successful tour we ever did. If there’s one piece of evidence I’d like to leave for posterity it would be this film. ”
❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click
Onstage last Thursday in Hamburg: Tony Hadley with guitarist Richie Barrett and drummer John Keeble. (Photo by RTN)
❚ WE HAVE HEARD ONLY HINTS SO FAR. But today singer Tony Hadley posted a link at Facebook that leaves no doubt. When you click through to photos of his performance in Hamburg last Thursday, a stark message is attached. “Spandau Ballet got together for the last time in 2009/2010 for a farewell world tour.” Nobody in the Spandau circle has yet used the words “last time” and “farewell”. Tactfully they allow us to believe that the future is a place where anything might still be possible. Hadley’s bel canto baritone voice was the most identifiable part of the supergroup’s musical signature in the 80s, and there’s nothing the band’s fans want more than to hear him singing again with his onetime schoolmates.
On Thursday and Friday, Hadley as solo performer was one of five British acts rostered for the Back to the 80s live gigs in Hamburg and Berlin. Above, we see him raising a storm onstage with Richie Barrett, the guitarist in the permanent band that has accompanied him as a singer for 13 years. Behind them on drums we see John Keeble, also a founder member of Spandau.
And when the Hamburg concert pictures were published on Friday by the German RTN news agency, this report accompanied them: “Hamburg — Konzert mit Musiklegenden der 80er Jahre war Tony Hadley am 1. Dezember 2011 in der o2 World Hamburg zu sehen. Tony Hadley sorgte mit Spandau Ballet und Songs wie True, Gold oder Only When You Leave für unverwechselbaren Sound und echte Ohrwürmer.
“Anfang der 90er Jahre startete Tony Hadley seine Solokarriere. Spandau Ballet taten sich 2009/2010 für einen Abschieds-Welttournee letztmalig zusammen.”
The brutal second paragraph translates into English as:
“ At the beginning of the 90s Tony Hadley began his solo career. Spandau Ballet got together for the last time in 2009/2010 for a farewell world tour. ”
The two key words in German are more explicit than anything Hadley has issued before about past and future… letztmalig means bluntly “for the last time”. And Abschied undeniably means “farewell, leave-taking, parting”, and in a military context is used to describe an officer who is being retired.
This statement from the Hadley camp removes any ambiguity that lingered in an interview he gave in August, following his first American solo tour. Remember, an argument over royalties split Spandau Ballet asunder in 1990, until they agreed to reunite and tour in 2009. In August the singer said: “It was only ever meant to be a one-off. At the moment there aren’t plans to do Spandau again. You could be waiting 20 years.” Well, now we know that means for ever.
Tony Hadley in Rome, spring 2011: a busy year as a solo artist. Photograph by Riccardo Arena
❚ ON SATURDAY SUAVE BRITISH SINGER Tony Hadley debuts his solo show in the United States, his first professional visit since winning the British TV reality show Reborn in the USA in 2003. Otherwise American audiences haven’t seen him live since he visited in 1985 as vocalist with Spandau Ballet, onetime New Romantics turned pomp-rockers. Following a busy summer of festival appearances, the American tour represents one of the biggest and long-awaited challenges in his career. The first of his six big-city dates is at New York’s Irving Plaza, after which the divorced but happily remarried father of four then plays the Rivers Casino Stage as part of a gay street festival in Chicago.
John Keeble: Spandau pal whose drums drive the Hadley band too. Photographed by Shapersofthe80s
He’s backed by his long-standing band featuring Spandau’s John Keeble (drums) plus Phil Taylor (keyboards), Phil Williams (bass guitar), Richie Barrett (guitar). In October they head down-under to Australia for seven more shows, with Go West in support at three.
Hadley split acrimoniously from his school-mates Spandau Ballet in 1990, since when the singer with the mighty and melodious voice has pursued a vigorous solo career which often involves 200 live shows a year. It has yielded six albums, the last in 2006 titled Passing Strangers moving into jazz-swing territory, though his 15 singles have seen only minimal chart success. In live concert he loves covering pop standards by Bowie and even Duran Duran. Today he’s a declared fan of The Killers and My Chemical Romance. He also enjoyed a stint in the musical Chicago in London’s West End.
In 2004 Hadley wrote an autobiography called To Cut A Long Story Short which made clear how his worldview had always been markedly different from the other members of Spandau even at their peak of success. Hadley wrote: “I’m busier now  than I was then … A couple of times I suggested we bring in a more experienced manager. I just thought it made sense to have someone working with us who knew more about the business than we did. No one else saw it that way.” In describing 1988, he devoted pages to a nit-picking analysis of the many cracks splitting the band, the last straw being the Kemp brothers, Gary and Martin, absenting themselves to star in the film about The Krays (notorious London gangsters), when all Tony wanted to do was sing his heart out on a stage. Then in 1999 the old school-mates found themselves daggers-drawn in an ugly court case over royalty payments, which Tony’s side lost. For years, the feud seemed irreconcilable. In 2005 Tony told me that by then he reckoned he personally was owed “about £2 million” to include interest.
Out of the blue in 2009 Spandau Ballet resolved their differences after Tony’s son Tom and Gary’s son Fin had met up in a pub and agreed to knock their dads’ heads together. The band reunited, they insisted, well, because all families have their squabbles and the old band of brothers from schooldays were really one big happy family again. It seemed just as pragmatic to assume that, as they were all approaching 50, the band knew a world tour might be their last chance to secure their pensions. What they agreed, though, was a one-year deal and it ended with an open-air show for 19,000 people at Newmarket racecourse on June 25 last year.
Hadley was always the non-Labour voter among the Spandaus and today at 51 he is a supporter of Conservative prime minister David Cameron. In recent years the singer harboured ambitions of becoming an MP. Given the horrendous violence that erupted this week on the streets of Britain, a remark he made in 2007 seems prescient. Tone was talking tough on crime to The Independent while attending the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool: “The fabric of society is torn. I walked through Blackpool and there were gangs walking the backstreets and 16-year-old pregnant women everywhere. What we need is Cameron to be like Thatcher, to say enough is enough, things have gone too far.”
This week as he packed for the States, Big Tone has given three lively online interviews, and here are some teaser quotes from him, which include news that his new solo album is now delayed …
Liverpool Empire 1982: a fan and her handbag shin up a drainpipe to gain access to Spandau Ballet’s dressing room. Photographed by Shapersofthe80s
TH There’s so many. OK. We were playing the Liverpool Empire in 1983 [Actually 1982, Tony — Shapersofthe80s]. The dressing rooms were on the second floor and there were screaming girls outside going absolutely ballistic. So all the windows were shut and we’d just done the show. Suddenly there was a strange tap on the window. We opened the window and two fans had climbed up a drain pipe and shimmied up two floors just to get to us! If they’d have fallen, they would have been killed. We invited them in, signed all of their stuff and gave them something to drink. It was pretty wild.
QLeaving for the United States soon? TH I can’t wait. For some reason it has been very difficult to get into the States. An American agent saw my band in Europe and wanted to get us over there. We want to come to the States and prove ourselves. We are doing a handful of shows, then come back next year and do 20 or 30 shows.
QYou have a new album coming out this year, right? TH No, next year; I am a little behind on it. It will be the first album that is written by me. It will be 12 tracks that are classic pop rock. A few weeks ago I was in Miami for a private show and I was introduced to Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees. We are going to write together so I have to factor that in as well. How bloody brilliant is that?
Spandau Ballet reunited 2009: their first live performance for 19 years was on the Jonathan Ross TV show. (BBC)
QWill the Spandau reunion be ongoing? TH It was only meant to be a one-off, and from my point of view, it was just a one-off. But I always say ‘Never say never’. At the moment, I’m touring Britain, the States, Australia, New Zealand and Germany before Christmas, plus with the new album, there’s a lot going on, but maybe one day in the future.
QWhat would you say to more casual fans in the States that only know the softer side of Spandau Ballet? TH In America [in the 80s], Spandau really cocked it up unfortunately. America’s a country where you have to tour and tour and tour to prove yourself and we didn’t do that. For whatever reason, whether it was management, thinking we were clever or whatever, we just didn’t play it right. I love playing live, and the thing is now I want to prove myself in America. Some people will think “This guy sang that sweet little song True” but when they see us live, they might be surprised that it’s a lot heavier than they imagined.
➢ Tony’s US dates 2011 — Aug 13 Irving Plaza, New York; Aug 14 Northalsted Market Days Festival, Halsted Street, Chicago; Aug 16 House Of Blues, West Hollywood, Los Angeles; Aug 18 Ramona Mainstage, San Diego, CA; Aug 20 Fremont Experience, Fremont Street, Las Vegas; Aug 21 Red Devil Lounge, San Francisco.
➢ Tony’s Australia dates 2011 — Oct 26 Hindmarsh, South Australia; Oct 27 South Morang, Victoria; Oct 28 Doncaster, Victoria; Oct 29 Chelsea Heights, Victoria; Oct 30 Rewind Australia, Wollongong, NSW; Nov 3 Coolangatta, Queensland; Nov 4 Penrith NSW.
❚ SHOT ON TOUR somewhere in Europe last year for Jonny Kline’s video tour diary. Spandau Ballet’s bass player Martin Kemp clamped a camera to his guitar to grab this down-the-neck lesson in fingerwork… ➢ VIEW ♫ Kemp’s nine-minute clip recently posted at Vimeo
Somewhere in the background Tony Hadley’s unmistakable voice is giving us Fight For Ourselves. In the opening shots Steve Norman introduces the band members — and yes, that’s his saxophone trying to steal the limelight later.
Kemp’s instrument of choice is a British Wal bass and it’s surprising to recall that right from the start he maintained: “I learnt to play bass in order to get into the group, not because I liked music.” These days, as he grooves away onstage Martin steers his bass fondly like an old jalopy, nicely improvising and developing themes of his own, where many bassists think all they have to do is underline a thumping beat.
Back in the early 80s he said: “I hate bass players — most of them just blend in and don’t add anything. I’m a showman. Some bass lines I’ve written are really catchy: I’m proud of Lifeline because you hear people humming it, not the hookline! The essence of the Spandau sound is melody, Tony’s voice obviously, Steve’s sax lines, Gary’s top line, my bass lines. We all think in terms of melodies.”
➢ 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
LANDMARK FAREWELLS. . . HIT THE INDEX TAB UP TOP FOR EVERYTHING ELSE
We respect copyright, and are happy to give credit to a photographer’s work and try to seek permission first. If you own images published here and wish them to be removed, simply ask.
Reblogging is theft, so whenever you recycle any picture for your own use, please credit the photographer or artist (living or dead), and seek permission to reproduce it. Their livelihoods (and those of their families) often depend on fair dealing