Tag Archives: Soul Boys of The Western World

1979 ➤ Spandau’s manager Steve Dagger tells of two offers to sign his band at their debut

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Spandau Ballet’s debut beneath festive bunting: left, Steve Strange in PX frills introduces the new band at the Blitz Christmas party in December 1979… Tony Hadley supercool in collar, tie, waistcoat and overcoat, Martin Kemp in jaunty trilby with Steve Norman beyond. Dagger’s blog seems unaware of these photos and after seeing them here at Shapersofthe80s, Gary Kemp recalls “being terrified while playing the little Yamaha CS-10, that we wouldn’t get away with it. Apart from many of the songs that made up our first album we also played Iggy Pop’s Fun Time and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

On the 40th anniversary of Spandau Ballet’s debut
performance at London’s Blitz club spearheading
the post-punk new wave, the band’s manager
Steve Dagger publishes his eye-witness account…

❏ On the 5th of December 1979, Spandau Ballet was born. After a year in metamorphosis and following a successful preview show two weeks before at Halligan’s rehearsal studios, when they were named by journalist and broadcaster to be, Robert Elms, Spandau Ballet emerged onto the stage and into the world at the Blitz on the occasion of Steve Strange and Rusty Egan’s Christmas party in 1980 [1979 surely – Ed].

Much has been written about the Blitz and its extraordinary position as a cultural funnel at the beginning of the 80s. But Spandau Ballet’s two performances there and subsequent meteoric rise to success did much to drive this tiny club and its spectacular cliental [clientele? – Ed] into the headlines and its ethos into popular culture and serve as the template to the 80s.

What happened that night?

No band had played before at a Steve Strange/Rusty Egan event, so the audience was not used to seeing live music in this context. Music was normally provided by Rusty Egan’s DJing, an extraordinary montage of epic electronica which seemed to give a tantalizing glimpse of a future we were all going to take part in.

How would “Spandau Ballet” be received? The preview show had gone incredibly well, so a handful of our friends and key faces on the scene had seen the band already, liked them and spread the word. But it was an impossibly cool crowd. Whether they were fashion students, artists, embryonic designers, wannabe writers, film directors or just London’s coolest of the cool night people, they all had an opinion of themselves and everything else.

The usual crowd was supplemented by a sprinkling of older cognoscenti, a Chelsea crowd who had become aware of the Blitz scene. The likes of Keith Wainwright, uber-cool hairdresser of Smile; artist Dougie Fields to name but a few, plus some musicians who had been drawn to the Blitz. Richard Burgess of Landscape (Spandau Ballet producer to be), Midge Ure of Ultravox and Billy Idol, Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Marco Pirroni of Adam & The Ants.

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Spandau Ballet’s second Blitz date, January 1980, despite Dagger’s belief on his blog that this pic shows the band’s debut. Most are sporting bow ties – Gary Kemp on synth at left, Tony Hadley as vocalist, with Steve Norman and Martin Kemp on guitars held high in their anti-rock stance. Churchill gazes out from his photo on the rear wall

So the battle lines were drawn and into the valley [of] death… Actually, the band were much less nervous than they had been for the preview show and also excited about playing in “their” club. When Rusty’s music stopped and they got onto the tiny stage there was a degree of anticipation and curiosity. I think the band realised collectively it was now or never and they seized the moment and started to play confidently and with a bit of swagger. Some of the audience danced, some applauded but almost everyone watched.

Tony sang brilliantly. The set which included most of the songs on “Journeys to Glory” fitted the club. Spandau Ballet fitted the club. “To Cut a Long Story” sounded like a massive hit.

Halfway through the set I was feeling quietly confident and was standing by the mixing desk next to the sound engineer when I became aware of a man standing next to me. He spoke to me.
“Who is this band?”
“It’s Spandau Ballet,” I said.
The new name sounded f*cking great.
“Which record label are they signed to?”
“They aren’t signed.”
“Who is their manager.”
“I am,” I said proudly.
“Well I am Chris Blackwell and I own Island Records, and I would like to sign them.”

First gig as Spandau Ballet… 5-0 up. Another man approached me. He was Danny Goodwin from Peninsula Music Publishing. He wanted to sign them too.

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Club, New Romantics, Steve Strange, London, Heritage award,The band finished their set. I could not wait to go backstage into the tiny dressing room to talk to them. We had all worked very hard for this moment. They were about to become a very important band. The only band that could play in the Blitz. The most important club in the world at that time. Everyone in the Blitz that night was hugely complimentary and positive about them.

We owned the space, we had claimed it. We were about to go through the looking glass and our lives were never going to be the same. The next day, I spoke to Chris Blackwell on the phone and arranged to meet him in a pub. He was softly spoken, charming and very cool. He owned the coolest record label in the world – Bob Marley, Roxy Music, Traffic, Free, Spencer Davis – and he wanted to sign Spandau Ballet. Now. He even gave me a list of lawyers he recommended to act for the band.

It all felt a little strange but somehow like it was all supposed to happen like this. I felt unbelievably relaxed and comfortable, empowered, and the band very confident, entitled energised. Uncrowned Princes of pop culture all of a sudden. We turned him down. But that is another story.

© Steve Dagger
First published today at Spandau Ballet’s website

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people

Spandau Ballet,Evening Standard, Blitz Club, New Romantics, Steve Strange

Steve Strange’s first interview with the Evening Standard, 24 Jan 1980, telling us of Spandau Ballet’s second performance that day

RARE VIDEO OF THE BLITZ A-BUZZ:


❏ You won’t find much authentic filmed footage inside the Blitz Club because so little exists and many posts claiming to show the Blitz at YouTube do not. The brief but glorious clip we see above captures the visual excess of its dancefloor in Spandau Ballet’s 2014 biopic Soul Boys of the Western World. The interiors come from Lyndall Hobbs’ short doc about London tribes called Steppin’ Out, shot in the summer of 1979. The first half-minute here comes from a TV report showing Blitz Kids gathering outside Sloane Square underground station to celebrate Steve Strange’s 21st birthday on a Circle Line train on 28 May 1980. We hear Martin Kemp voicing the sequence which zooms in on him at 23 seconds. The black-and-white stills collaged into the segment are Shapersofthe80s originals, and the closing seconds are from LWT’s 20th-Century Box.

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Club, New Romantics, Heritage award,

Heritage award from the Performing Rights Society: In September 2014 Spandau Ballet returned to the site of the Blitz Club to see a plaque installed remembering their debut. The club’s original neon sign was also present for the photoshoot

SPANDAU RECALL THE BLITZ IN 2014:

➢ Previously… 1980, The Invisible Hand of Shapersofthe80s
draws a selective timeline for the unprecedented
rise and rise of Spandau Ballet

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➤ A Duranie showers praise on Spandau’s Soul Boys gig in Los Angeles

Spandau Ballet , Soul Boys of the Western World, US Tour, pop music, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Swinging 80s,

Streaming live: old romantics Spandau Ballet paying the Wiltern, Los Angeles, on Sunday night. Screengrab © Yahoo/Live Nation

➢ VIEW Yahoo’s online stream of Spandau Ballet’s Sunday concert at Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles (initially on a continuous loop but later reduced to clips)

➢ Update 28 Jan: View Spandau Ballet’s number Only When You Leave from Yahoo’s stream of last Sunday’s concert at Wiltern Theatre

Spandau Ballet , Soul Boys of the Western World, US Tour, pop music,
➢ Oh the irony! At the ultimate Duran Duran fansite, Rhonda reviews Spandau Ballet live in Los Angeles 2015

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

Spandau Ballet,Daily Duranie , Soul Boys of the Western World, John Taylor, Martin Kemp

Duranspan or is it Spanduran? The New Romantics John Taylor and Martin Kemp in 1985

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2015 ➤ So no pressure then, as Spandau’s world tour kicks off


◼ “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.”

Spandau Ballet , Soulboys of the Western World, US Tour,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


➢ The first review is in from Jim Harrington
of Bay Area News Group:

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


➢ New dates for Spandau Ballet’s North America live tour – starting 23–25 Jan in California but with other US and Canada concert dates rescheduled for April–May. Click through for complete list of world tour dates 2015.

Spandau Ballet , Soulboys of the Western World, US Tour, NYC, SiriusXM,

At SiriusXM radio on Wednesday: Spandau Ballet studio session for coast-to-coast satellite broadcast. Photograph by Richard Blade

Spandau Ballet , Soulboys of the Western World, US Tour, Steve Norman, John Keeble, Tony Hadley, ,

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

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2014 ➤ Spandau Ballet’s world tour reunion updates

New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Heaven Club, London, Swinging 80s, Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet’s tenth live date: playing Heaven in London 1980. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

SCREENINGS OF THEIR SOUL BOYS BIO-PIC

pop music, George Hencken, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, movie, biopic,New Romantics, Blitz Kids
✱ Read Shapersofthe80s’ review of the SBWW film and its UK premiere, plus European screening dates, Oct–Nov 2014

✱ Hello Down Under! Auckland NZ 2 Nov, Melbourne 5 Nov and Sydney 7 Nov for special Q&A screenings of SBWW, plus live performance in Melbourne

✱ 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

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, cancellations, rescheduled, US tour, dates

Hadley sings True: Spandau live at London’s Albert Hall, 2014. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ SPANDAU’S 2015 LIVE TOUR DATES IN ONE LIST

✱ North America tickets on sale 14 Nov from San Francisco 23 Jan to Red Bank NY 10 Feb and in between LA, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Boston, NYC, Westbury, Washington DC . . . Extra concert added 24 Jan at The Wiltern in Los Angeles . . . Extra concert added 2 Feb in Montreal (on sale 27 Nov).

17 Jan 2015 update – Shock change to Spandau Ballet’s North America live tour – still launching 23–25 Jan in California but with other US and Canada concert dates rescheduled for April–May. Click through for complete list of world tour dates 2015.

✱ 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)

✱ Down under: Auckland, NZ 10 May tickets on sale 20 Nov… Oz on sale Nov 12: Spandau’s Australia concert tour 2015 kicks off in Brisbane 13 May, playing also Sydney, Melbourne and Perth

✱ Weekly: Big Tone’s party show Saturdays 7–9pm GMT on Absolute 80s Radio, on air and online


➢ 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.”

➢ 1980: Read the epic story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer

➢ Official Spandau Ballet website

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➤ Soul Boys Spandau rise like a phoenix from the flames of their film premiere

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau Ballet: smart-casual on the red carpet

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau live at the Albert Hall: All six members of the band reunited, the sixth being manager Steve Dagger in the wings

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Royal Albert Hall: full house for Spandau’s premiere

◼︎ 6,000 PEOPLE WERE UP FOR an emotional roller-coaster ride at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday – hundreds more watched simulcasts in cinemas across the land. Today Rolling Stone has called it “the biggest home-movie party in British pop history”. We sped through yards of breathlessly cut vintage footage even the band hadn’t seen before, showing how five glammed-up school friends adopted the preposterous name Spandau Ballet and effectively rewrote the rules of a moribund pop industry to rocket into the charts and become one of Britain’s six supergroups of the New Romantic 80s…

We saw how their friendships turned nasty and imploded in a law court… and how they’ve agreed to make this film 20 years later in which each tells his own version “warts and all”, soul boys baring their souls in a cathartic process of reconciliation and redemption. Why, they’d even titled their home movie, Soul Boys of the Western World, ironically referencing one of theatre’s tragic morality tales about human failings, the greater irony being that the band themselves were actually shocked to hear each other’s words at the first screening. They were the film’s only narrators, recorded separately talking one-to-one with the director and telling the tale with more “crashing and burning” than tact.

Tuesday’s audience picked up these cues in pantomime tradition. We were bearing witness just as the penitent members of Spandau Ballet were hoping. We oohed and aahed at some really tear-jerky best bits. We howled at odd Spinal Tap daftness. We heckled the cocky Cockney TV presenter. We laughed at our quaint mullets and hilarious teenage pretensions four decades ago. Then when the screen froze in a silent moment of grim truth, the whole Albert Hall groaned “Ohhhh no!” One hero had been damned, but a succession of jaw-dropping out-takes from pop-idol interviews hanged the others in turn. Icicles formed in the air, Steve Norman’s voice told us “You can see on our faces Spandau Ballet has just come to an end” and we shared their pain. At times the spoken bluntness came too near the knuckle and between last spring’s hair-shirt trailer and this autumn premiere a couple of killer icicles have been chopped.

Click any pic to launch slideshow

Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, the yarn rattled along as a fascinating piece of social history, to a soundtrack deftly clipped from 22 Spandau numbers and a host of others that shaped the 80s. Tuesday’s melodrama came in three acts and we confessors gave the film a standing ovation, took a quick break to share our own shock at the band’s courage, and then rose to our feet again as the 6,000 to welcome onstage the happy smiling band of brothers, plus their equally glamorous film director, George Hencken, who had brought a woman’s instincts to handling the boys’ emotional baggage.

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World,

Soul Boys oWW reviewed by NME

Act 2 heard the team answer those burning questions live onstage, among them Gary Kemp saying “Yes, I’m the baddie”, and his brother Martin admitting disappointment in himself when young, while Tony Hadley said all the bitterness had weighed heavy on their families. There was plenty of humour too. When asked what he’d missed most since the great days, John Keeble said “the cheeseboard” (a reference to a backstage luxury specified in the band’s touring contract). Drummers, eh?

Act 3 was the equal of all that had come before. We rose to greet Spandau’s live set of six copper-bottomed hits, kicking off with their hymn of defiance, Through the Barricades, then sprinting into To Cut a Long Story Short. By Chant No 1 all six tiers of the Albert Hall were on their feet and cheering the dancefloor anthem that just missed being the chart No 1 in the riotous summer of 1981. Martin looked reassuringly relaxed powering its funky bassline, and Steve’s sax breaks were definitely dirtier than of old. In Only When You Leave Tony’s big balladeering vowels confirmed what a magnificent bel canto baritone he has become. And of course the last two classics, True and Gold, were inevitably hijacked by the choir filling the hall.

In words of the Eurovision winner, Spandau Ballet have risen from their ashes like a phoenix (fortunately without beards or frocks). We turn to our philosopher-drummer Keeble for the last word: “The film is a three-act play: guys have success, the wheels come off, then there’s some redemption. This now feels like fun and games – with love in it.” Gulp.

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau film premiere: Rock god Keeble photographed by Dave Hogan

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT SBWW

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Soul Boys oWW reviewed by Empire magazine

“More than a typical rock doc … the biggest home-movie party in British pop history” – David Fricke, Rolling Stone

“I found it gripping. Despite having never understood the appeal of the New Romantics, I enjoyed the hell out of Soul Boys of the Western World” – Observer film critic Mark Kermode on BBC-tv … “The mark of a really good rock documentary is that it makes you care about a band who played music that you were never a fan of” – Kermode again, on BBC News channel, picking his DVD of the week 24 Oct

“A funny, absorbing, trivia-filled portrait of friendship, the 80s music biz and bad hair” – Ian Freer, Empire Online

“The muscular musicianship of the band suggested that this latest stage of their reunion is more than just a nostalgia-wallow” – James Hall, Daily Telegraph

➢ Soul Boys of the Western World goes on general release 3 October, plus w/b Oct 20 screenings at Rome Film Festival and cinemas across Italy, Belgium’s Film Fest Gent… from Oct 27 Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, Pamplona… Plus, Nov 15 Spandau’s first public appearance in New York since 1983.

➢ Oct 20: tickets on sale today! Auckland NZ Nov 2, Melbourne Nov 5 and Sydney Nov 7 for special Q&A screenings of SBWW – Spandau Ballet are heading Down Under where the Melbourne screening will include a 20-minute live performance by the band.

➢ Plus Oct 24: Spandau’s first European tour dates announced: Amsterdam 21 March, Luxembourg live 22 March and a five-date Italian tour 24–30 March

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