“ I have to give Spandau credit: they are the real deal. They PLAY… and any backing used is incredibly minimal compared to many other bands. Tony Hadley has a better voice live than nearly any vocalist I’ve ever heard, and I’m sure the Jack he used for toasting the audience does nothing to hurt him, either. I can’t really say enough about Tony’s vocal talent OR the rest of the band. Steve Norman is a sax GOD, not to mention a world-class percussionist, of course Gary and Martin Kemp are the backbone of the band along with John Keeble on drums.
“ There was something really heartwarming as I watched fans scream with glee as Tony broke into Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) or the way the entire audience sang True with the band. . . As we waited in line outside, I halfway listened as the people in back of us talked about the trek they were making to follow the band on their tour across the country, and how they talked about members of the band as though they were old friends. It reminded me so much of the “relationship” Duran fans have with the band. As much as we might be different – Spandau fans and Duran fans – we’re really the same. . .” / Continued online at the Daily Duranie
Duranspan or is it Spanduran? The New Romantics John Taylor and Martin Kemp in 1985
◼ “WHAT A GREAT WAY TO START A WORLD TOUR!”a beaming Steve Norman told the audience in San Francisco last night. “Thank you so much.” Spandau Ballet kicked off their 41-date Soul Boys of the Western World Tour at the 2,300-seat Warfield, built as a plush crimson vaudeville theatre in the 1920s, the same venue they played on their last US visit 31 years ago. And judging from the singalong audible on YouTube videos posted by fans, the night sounded a success.
Two more dates complete the California leg of the tour this weekend, much to the disappointment of fans in other parts of the US and Canada whose bookings were cancelled at short notice last week and rescheduled into April and May. Many had planned to fly in from other states and even other countries to attend. One Canadian diehard who had bookings for five concerts told us: “If I had known all this, I would have gone to London to catch the UK start in March.”
The band assure Shapers of the 80s that this decision had been taken by their American promoter. Last night sax player Steve Norman said: “I do understand that some people were put out, to say the least. Please give my apologies. It is a real shame.”
As for returning to the Warfield, Steve said: “It was an awesome night, felt like a second coming for all present. The energy in the room was electric. I guess expectations were high seeing as we hadn’t performed in the US for so long. But American fans are loyal and they made sure it was one of the most enjoyable Spandau shows of all time. I’m so looking forward to the LA gig tognight.”
Fans beyond California have a small compensation: Yahoo’s live online stream tomorrow night from the Wiltern Theatre concert in Los Angeles at 8.45pm (PT), and viewable thereafter on a seemingly indefinite loop 24/7.
First night at the Warfield: Click any pic to launch slideshow
Front-row Ballet fans at the Warfield: Judith Lewis and her husband Mike of Stratford-upon-Avon, England
“ The synthesizer and saxophone soared. Saccharine ballads and slick pop anthems were in ample supply. Folks dressed up like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice. There was an old-school MTV sheen to the entire production. Most important of all, the lead singer’s hair was perfect. Man, I love the 80s.
And it felt like I got a second helping of the decade at The Warfield, courtesy of 80s hitmakers Spandau Ballet. . . The show was mostly about celebrating the past. Yet, the group also gave us reason to believe that Spandau Ballet might have a promising future …” / Continued online
➢ Steven Gdula in awe at the Warfield
for Dinosaur magazine: “ The first seven songs included three new compositions, plus past hits Highly Strung, Only When You Leave and Round and Round. The performances were winning. At times blistering, even. So much so that my old indifference to latter-day Spandau Ballet compositions was replaced with more than just respect. I was in awe. Tony Hadley’s voice fits him better than ever at this point in his life, and his comfort level shows. His phrasings were sophisticated, sometimes lingering behind the beat, sometimes anticipating it, sounding every bit like the soul or jazz crooners he’s emulated. And when he allowed his voice to soar, no roof could have sealed it in. Steve Norman’s sax rides were likewise unstoppable, often to the point of competing with Hadley’s voice in the mix. The Kemp brothers — Martin on bass and Gary on guitar — were tight and musically stylish without being flashy, and John Keeble’s muscular drumming kept driving it all forward. . .” / Continued online
At SiriusXM radio on Wednesday: Spandau Ballet studio session for coast-to-coast satellite broadcast. Photograph by Richard Blade
Keeble, Hadley and Norman, 2015: grabbing a proper pint at the Belmont on La Cienega in Los Angeles. (Tweeted by Steve Norman)
UPDATE: AT THE WILTERN, LOS ANGELES
➢ Lina Lecaro is seduced for the LA Weekly: “ The band’s first proper Los Angeles show in three decades did not go unnoticed. It sold out the Wiltern Theatre, and a second night was added. Saturday, the first of the weekend shows, the “boys” of Ballet had something to prove to LA and they did, bestowing their mostly thirty-and-fortysomething fan base with a set that was near perfection sound-wise and as visually appealing as anything they did back in their 80s heyday. And yes, by visually appealing we mean they still look good. Real good. . .” / Continued online
The next Bowie: Click on image to hear audio of his single ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore
◼ BOWIE IS BACK IN BAFFLER MODE. A new single released today derives its name from an English Restoration drama on the theme of incest. In John Ford’s play ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, the protagonist Giovanni brings about his own destruction. Though the play stands as classic of Eng Lit, ever since the 17th century it has been ignored or condemned as too racy.
The new Bowie single puts your teeth on edge with an abrasive percussion landscape echoing Michael Nyman, over which David Bowie affects an enfeebled voice to deliver mildly explicit lyrics in Restoration vein. Typically of Bowie, however, he offers his own distracting interpretation by saying: “If Vorticists wrote rock music it might have sounded like this.” Hmmm.
The experimental art movement of vorticism grew out of futurist abstraction and the machine age in 1914, being pioneered by such English painters as Wyndham Lewis, Edward Wadsworth and William Roberts. The founders signed a manifesto proposing that they “set up a violent structure of adolescent clearness” and they produced a literary magazine titled Blast, which mocked the art establishment and the Bloomsbury set. The unfortunate coincidence of the First World War and its shocking realities killed vorticism in its tracks.
In light of which we are forced to ask: Would Wyndham Lewis or David Bomberg seriously have produced music like Bowie’s? About incest?
’Tis a Pity She Was a Whore is the B-side of the more invigorating single due out 17 Nov on Parlophone and titled Sue (or In a Season of Crime) – listen ♫ online at DB’s website – which pushes Bowie’s eerie impersonation of the godlike Scott Walker into a Valhalla of jazz. Mm-mm, crunchy!
Click on pic to run video for Sue (or In a Season of Crime)
❏ Update: The video above is released 13 Nov for Bowie’s single Sue (or In a Season of Crime) from the album Nothing Has Changed. The video was shot in New York and London and directed by Tom Hingston and Jimmy King. The track was recorded with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti. Extra special Bowie features for the next two weeks in the NME whose verdict on Sue was: “It’s Nick Cave meets Scott Walker meets Herbie Hancock – and it’s quite brilliant.”
➢ Tangle with 21st-century vorticists who insist Bowie rates Blast among his favourite books because, perhaps coincidentally, Blast had been returned to public consciousness in 1974 by Richard Cork who, while art critic of the Evening Standard, curated a monumental retrospective exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery titled Vorticism and its Allies. The totemic star exhibit was the giant monolith, Epstein’s Rock Drill of 1915, destroyed by the sculptor and specially recreated for this show by Ken Cook and Ann Christopher. The plaster-cast male torso was dwarfed by mounting it on a life-sized stone-cutter’s drill, readymade by Holman Brothers of Cornwall, as originally conceived by Epstein in a powerful celebration of the machine age and of masculinity. Today the piece resides in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
❚ THE 56-YEAR-OLD STAR of The Comic Strip, The Young Ones and The New Statesman has died suddenly at his home in London. Long before his TV stardom, I met Rik Mayall in November 1980 in pursuit of the first magazine feature about the achingly funny team putting the Comic Strip’s new wave of “alternative comedy” on the map. Here is that first feature about them, with my own pictures:
Thief in Hoxton: languid romance from vocalist Charlotte Mallery. (Photography Shapersofthe80s)
❚ A DECADE SHIFT HAS MOVED Thief’s sound into another era of Britpop. Wednesday’s live set of half a dozen numbers at the Hoxton Bar and Grill suggests that the electro duo’s early 80s vibe has acquired the garagey feel of the 90s, while still evincing languid romance.
Mesmeric hints of Sade layered with essence of Massive Attack result in laid-back electronic lounge music with kickin’ beats and bleeps. The single Friend Lover becomes a mildly melancholy love song as delivered by its lyricist, drama-studies graduate Charlotte Mallory, yet it is propelled by the optimistic harmonics and percussion of Fin Munro, keyboardist, deejay, producer and London club-host. As they told radio deejay Gary Crowley in an interview last month, their songwriting partnership pursues the themes of soul and emotion, complicated feelings and unrequited love.
An EP is planned for release within the next couple of months. Meanwhile catch Thief again on Thursday Jan 30 at The Notting Hill Arts Club.
Thief in Hoxton: electronics by Fin Munro, vocals by Charlotte Mallery. (Photography Shapersofthe80s)
➢ Fin Munro interviewed at Farah, Feb 6: “ We’re a two piece, Charlotte sings and I play the music. We’ve been influenced by bands like Sade, Everything but the Girl, but also more recent acts like SBTRKT, James Blake and Purity Ring. We’re an electronic band but we definitely have influences of soul and R&B in our songs… ”/ Continued online
➢ Charlotte Mallory blogging at Huffington Post, Feb 6: “ Fin and I first met at a house party four years ago. He’d just been to see The XX at Maida Vale studios earlier that day, so was feeling musically inspired to start something new. Although we didn’t form Thief that year, we began sending each other music we liked and kept in contact while I was studying at Sussex Uni in Brighton and he was DJing and running club nights in London… ” / Continued online
➢ 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
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