Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley talking to Lorraine today. (Picture: Rex Shutterstock/ITV)
◼ METRO REPORTS TONY HADLEY talking to Lorraine Kelly today on ITV: “Spandau’s on hold, that’s kind of one of the reasons I did the jungle [TV show],” Tony said of the 80s chart-toppers. With the 2015 world tour ending only recently, he admitted that a future reunion shouldn’t be ruled out. “We’re really great friends and we’ll get back together every three or four years – which is how it should be.”
Culture Club 2015 style: fractious and bickering, as ever
◼ IN THE EARLY 1980s, Culture Club fronted by the gender-bending Boy George was one of the six British supergroups which dominated pop charts around the world. They won a Brit Award and a Grammy, notched up ten top 40 hits and sold 50 million records before they disbanded in 1986 after George fell victim to drug addiction. A brief reunion around the millennium yielded a tour and an album that didn’t even make the top 40.
Since then temperamental George invested time as a club deejay and in 2009 served time as a jailbird for “falsely imprisoning” and beating a male escort with a metal chain. Other attempted band reunions proved abortive, until the past year when a new album titled Tribes was written though it seemingly cannot be released until funds have been raised through a crowd-sourcing website. This year the deadline for pre-orders was extended to the end of March. And you thought George was millionaire pop royalty living on his royalty stream! Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Meanwhile, 21 putative tour dates for Culture Club in the UK and US had been cancelled because, according to George, a polyp was found on one of his vocal chords. No mention was made of the state of advance ticket sales. So far so bad.
On Friday 6 March BBC4 is scheduled to screen a documentary titled Boy George and Culture Club: Karma to Calamity. Director Mike Nicholls was given unique access and witnessed a fractious band reunion in George’s London home to write new material. From then on, all is chaos (and parental guidance is advised throughout). Under George’s headstrong leadership, tensions from their past emerged and faultlines developed further when the band spent two weeks together in Spain. Relations became even more strained when George and the band signed to separate managers. If these business partners pitched for Dragons’ Den using this film, they’d be sent back to busking on the streets.
George quoted at the Culture Club website
BBC publicity says the hour-long film turns over “the band’s troubled past, examining the themes of success, fame and ego”, which means this is likely to be one for diehard fans only. OK, and voyeurs who want the inside track on the always frought love affair between George and drummer Jon Moss, who today is happily married. In one revealing scene online, Jon himself says: “I fell I love with him, he happened to be a man. We were instantly attracted to each other. It was very exciting.” Guitarist Roy Hay adds the reality check: “I just wanted to be in a band and have fun. I ended up in a ******* homosexual drama. The fighting was the problem.” So much for the glamour of life in pop’s fast lane.
❏ After an hour of tedious on-screen bickering, the closing captions read: “ The tour needs to be rescheduled but the different managers can’t reach an agreement. Since the cancellation of the tour, George and the band are no longer speaking to each other. [Apart from George] the other band members have declined to be interviewed. The album release is on hold. ”
✱ Spandau’s first public appearance in NYC since 1983, plus US release of their new single This Is The Love, plus outdoor mini-concert in LA for their TV debut with Jimmy Kimmel 10 Nov… plus live performance on Fox’s Good Day Nov 13… Plus SBWW screening 15 Nov at SVA Theatre, premiere and band talk at Doc NYC
✱ Now on sale: tickets for 13 dates 3–19 March in Spandau Ballet’s live UK tour 2015, kicking off 3 March from Dublin in the land of music, now taking in TWO London dates at O2 Arena 17–18 March, and ending in Brummie Duran-land
✱ First dates on live European tour 2015: Amsterdam 21 March, Luxembourg 22 March, Italy 24–30 March (Assago, Torino, Padova, Firenze, Roma), Germany 16–22 April (Leipzig, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich)
➢ First US review of the new single This Is the Love at Billboard: “Thirty years after Spandau Ballet’s last U.S. single, the British new-wave quintet brings back everything that made it danceable on This Is the Love, touting a thick sax, Tony Hadley’s syrup-and-silk delivery and poppy drum work. The twist? There’s also a James Bond theme vibe mixed in.” – Andrew Flanagan … 8 Nov Martin Kemp tweets: “Billboard single of the week in the U.S.”
SPANDAU INTERVIEWED IN NEW ZEALAND, 2 NOV
➢ Or, read a transcription of the above interview with New Zealand’s arts website, The 13th Floor – Here’s Tony Hadley on how life was different when he was a teenager: “The 80s was probably the last innocent decade in a kind of weird way, pretty primitive, you know. In Britain we had three TV channels. As a young person, you had music and you had fashion. So everything was pretty tribal and we’ve always been like that in Britain anyway, with the Mods, the Rockers, psychedelia, punk. So you picked your tribe and the kind of music you wanted to be associated with and that was it – it was just a simple time. We’ve now entered into a period where social media and connectivity around the world is unprecedented, incredible. So as a young person, you don’t necessarily need just fashion and just music. It’s a very different world we live in.”
Hello America! In Austin, Texas, 28 years after their last vsit, Spandau Ballet return to play live
➢ UPDATE – First official review of SBWW from Mel Brown at Facebook: “ I’m a very lucky girl. Got to see the worldwide premiere of Soul Boys of the Western World. Truly amazing. An emotional roller coaster. This film is not just for Spandau fans, it’s for anyone who loves a good story of friends growing up together. Can’t wait for its UK release. Thanks guys! Looking forward to the first US show in 28 years tonight. ”
❚ AUSTIN, TEXAS, IS SIX HOURS BEHIND THE UK so any minute NOW the curtain is going up on the world premiere of Soul Boys of the Western World. The documentary movie made entirely from vintage footage follows the rise and fall of the five london schoolpals who became one the the world’s half dozen pop supergroups of the 80s. And in two hours’ time we’ll know how much of a tearjerker it turns out to be. Take it away, Tone!
Spandau Ballet all together on the Austin TV breakfast show: first public reunion since the Reformation tour ended in summer 2010
➢ Tony Hadley on Facebook early today: “ A tiring but extremely successful day 2 at SXSW. We spent pretty much the entire day from 7.30am to 6pm doing promotion for the movie. The feedback from all the journalists that interviewed us was fantastic and there will be some reviews online later. In the afternoon we had a couple of hours to head out and check our back-line equipment for today’s show at a rehearsal facility here. In the room next door there was Kanye West and Jay-z rehearsing. Last night I had a chance to go and see London Grammar, Imagine Dragons and Coldplay playing at the iTunes Festival here. They all put on a great show.
“ Today is the main Spandau Ballet event…the premiere of Soul Boys of the Western World at the Paramount Theatre at 1400hrs. Very exciting! Tonight we play our first show here in the US for 28 years at the Vulcan Gas Company and we are all really looking forward to it. I’ll let you know tomorrow how it went!! ”
FIRST SNAPS AFTER THE SCREENING
After the screening of Soul Boys of the Western World: Spandau invite a Q&A from the Paramount audience… Far left, the film’s director George Hencken
Today’s Tweet from Gary Kemp @garyjkemp
– On stage with band and director @georgehencken for Q&A post screening. Thank you @sxsw, it was emotional.
Soundcheck for tonight’s live gig: Spandau onstage together for the first time in almost four years at the Vulcan Gas Company in Austin. Photo by Spandau’s first record producer, Richard James Burgess
Today’s Tweet from Spandau’s film director Henckenstein @georgehencken
– Tonight is going to be about this: #SpandauBallet #VulcanGasCompany
Another reunion! Steve Norman meets up with Spandau’s first record producer Richard Burgess today at SXSW
Today’s tweet from Spandau’s first record producer Richard James Burgess
– I haven’t seen them in a small room since 1980
After the soundcheck for tonight’s Spandau show: Tony Hadley relaxing as Steve Norman takes the snap
Today’s tweet from Steve Norman @SteveNormanReal
– The big man post sound check, pre gig madness @TheTonyHadley #SXSW
Marquee of the Paramount in Austin, Texas: Soul Boys of the Western World premieres today
Director of the Spandau movie, George Hencken, tweets: “No better way to spend Wednesday afternoon than watching @SpandauBallet in rehearsal. Texas here we come!”
❚ REUNITED FOR THE FIRST TIME in three years, the five men who fronted the New Romantic sounds of 1980 started rehearsals this week. Spandau Ballet were gearing up for their return to the live stage in the US on March 12 as part of the promotion for the biopic about their rise, Soul Boys of The Western World, which is being premiered at the SXSW Festival in Texas.
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Lauren Kemp’s snap of Tony Hadley
Another snap by film director George Hencken
John Keeble: “My Paiste”
John Keeble: “My office”
Only When You Leave: Big Tone back in front
Steve Norman back on guitar, Gary Kemp leading
Martin Kemp’s insta-vid of Gary and Tony
Martin Kemp – What an amazing way to spend a day! SpandauBallet rehearsal room was rocking today!
Songwriter Gary Kemp on the documentary film: “It’s warts and all. There are some tough bits because we went through a smash-up, and that’s all there on the screen. But there’s also redemption.”
Drummer John Keeble: “It’s very honest and very difficult. Life comes at you. There was no point in telling the story and airbrushing it. We grew up together, we explored the world together and we fell out – badly. It’s about redemption.”
What next, Martin? “We’ll see! There’s a couple of surprises along the way, coming up.”
redemption / rɪˈdɛm(p)ʃ(ə)n: “The action of saving or being saved from sin”
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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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