Tag Archives: SXSW

2014 ➤ Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet biopic premiering at SXSW

Spandau Ballet

Spandau ahoy! Houseband of the New Romantics playing aboard HMS Belfast in 1980. Martin Kemp on bass, Steve Norman on guitar. (Photo by Virginia Turbett)


Spandau Ballet (Official)
“Awesome Spandau meeting yesterday! 2014 and 2015 are shaping up rather nicely, I would say.”

“Look out for MORE exciting Spandau news coming very soon! This is just the start.”

❚ SEVERAL MOVIE DISCOVERIES have been made by the researchers on Spandau Ballet’s new biopic Soul Boys of the Western World, due to be premiered on March 12 in the USA at SXSW. One is footage of the band’s secret live performance aboard the World-War Two cruiser HMS Belfast. In order to emphasise the newness of their synthesised pop music, the band’s ground rule was never to appear at established rock venues. So for their seventh invitation-only date on July 26, 1980, a glittering horde of Blitz Kids descended on the warship moored in the Thames near the Tower of London.

Spandau Ballet, archive, HMS Belfast,SXSW,Blitz Kids

Precious footage of Spandau’s HMS Belfast gig, 1980: two reels of Super8 exhumed from the vaults by ex-Blitz Kid Nick Jones

Songwriter Gary Kemp says: “There are two pieces of archive that most surprised me. The first was the HMS Belfast performance from 1980. I never knew it existed until last year when our manager Steve Dagger had a vague memory that one of the Blitz Kids, Nick Jones, had a Super 8 camera. (He went on to play in the Latin-tinged dance-band Funkapolitan with Tom Dixon and Kadir Guirey, and today he’s a successful director of commercials.) It was some time before Nick could gain access to his storage and at first found nothing. Then we got sent the pic you see alongside.”

Kemp adds: “The footage is in beautiful Super 8 colour and shows the raw energy of that night inside the hot and steamy ship. It lasts eight minutes, but was enough to evoke the moment when Spandau were THE band of London, elusive, unique, magnificent.”

Petr Capaldi, Spandau Ballet, 1982,

Peter Capaldi at 23: comic support on Spandau’s 1982 Diamond tour. (Photo by Shapersofthe80s)

He adds: “The other archive that revealed itself, 33 years after being filmed, was the entire New York gig that we did in the Underground club in 1981.” This footage emerged after painstaking inquiries only last autumn and Spandau can be seen onstage in all their glory sporting their nomadic serfs garb from the Musclebound video.

Some of us also remember the 23-year-old Scottish stand-up who was invited to support Spandau Ballet on the Diamond tour of the UK in 1982. This was Peter Capaldi who has enjoyed spectacular success in the years since then and was revealed recently as the BBC’s 12th Doctor Who.

Kemp adds: “The new Doctor Who is definitely seen in the film – on a tour bus I believe – which explains his new Tony Hadley style as Doctor Who! Come and see the movie and enjoy our history.”


❏ Plan before you travel: SXSW is an industry event which charges hefty registration fees, for example, Films-only registration costs $650 for walkups. However the website says if, after delegates with badges and wristbands are seated at film events, any seats remain, “single-admission tickets will be sold for $10 starting 15 minutes before showtime”.

SXSW update after the live gig is announced, Feb 21: “For the music portion of the event, the situation is very similar. There will most likely be tickets for sale at the door but it varies from venue to venue. Tickets may be sold if capacity allows. Our best advice is to get to the venue early or contact them to see if they will be selling tickets at the door and also see how long the wristband/badge lines are to judge if you could even get in.”

➢ 1982, How Spandau put Capaldi on the road to play
the new Doctor Who

➢ Spandau together again as their ‘surprise’ movie is slated for Texas premiere – more on SXSW 2014 at Shapersofthe80s

New Romantics,

Blitz Kids ahoy! A dazzling audience aboard HMS Belfast for Spandau Ballet’s seventh date. (Photo – Getty)


2014 ➤ Spandau together again as their ‘surprise’ movie is slated for Texas premiere

Spandau Ballet, Botanic Gardens, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Birmingham.

Kilted leaders of the New Romantics in 1980: Spandau Ballet plus their entourage of Blitz Kids travelled to Birmingham’s Botanic Gardens to play their eighth live date. (Photograph by Shapersofthe80s)

[Updated Feb 12]

❚ WITH A TITLE AS ZEALOUS AS any of their New Romantic songs from 1980, Soul Boys of the Western World is the documentary movie about the time Spandau Ballet became the musical leaders of London’s underground clubland. For two years they were the trendiest creatures on the planet as they reshaped British music and fashion, believe it. The 102-minute biopic is to be premiered on March 12 in the 24 Beats Section of the prestige new-media conference SXSW in Austin, Texas, running March 7–16. To complete the first reunion of the whole band since their 2010 tour ended, singer Tony Hadley will be flying out to join Gary, Martin, John and Steve at the screening.

Fans who imagine they can gate-crash, however, will be seriously stymied by the price of registration for the film programme which increases to $650 the later you book. Before travelling to Austin, Spandau fans are advised to ensure they have secured a ticket. Hints from the Spandau team suggest there may be more news soon.

Spandau Ballet, New York, Underground club, 1981

1981 footage found: Spandau’s first New York performance recovered after this cameraman was traced. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

The film contains no present-day pontificating from the band’s famously garrulous entourage of talking heads, only through vintage film footage telling their story as it unfolds. Steve Dagger, Spandau’s manager and its sixth member since the band was created and now the film’s co-producer, is impressed and excited by the extensive research which has been fanatically pursued for the past three years. Initiated by archive producer Kate Griffith, this has turned up many true gems of previously unseen footage even of the landmark “First Blitz invasion of America” with the Axiom fashion collective in 1981 which was located in only the past three months. Offcuts from footage of the band’s followers shot in Le Kilt club for BBC Newsnight were also discovered in a box that remained unopened for 30 years. There are also clips from the band’s home movies.

Songwriter Gary Kemp is over the moon at the painstaking finesse of the production led by Scott Millaney, one of the iconic producers of 80s pop videos. Kemp said last week: “People should be really knocked out by some of the material we’ve discovered.”

Director George Hencken aims to takes audiences through the cultural, political and personal landscapes of Britain as the Swinging 80s burst from the recessionary gloom of the 70s. Soul Boys Of The Western World explores life inside the bubble of global superstardom when British pop music ruled the world. Spandau Ballet themselves believe the film to be “a brutally honest story of how friendships can be won, lost and ultimately regained”.

documentary, film, Soul Boys of the Western World, Spandau Ballet, SXSW, Texas, premiere, pop music, Swinging 80s, London, fashion, nightclubbing, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,

Nomad warriors on the streets of north London, 1981: Spandau Ballet dressed for their Musclebound video. Martin Kemp called his the Mad Monk outfit. (Promotional pic for the documentary film, Soul Boys of the Western World)


2011 ➤ Despite sniffy critics, ultimately Duran’s best album since their glory years

❚ UNBELIEVABLE! Not one of the nine amateur vidz posted on YouTube of Duran Duran’s pre-tour warm-ups in the US this week captures tunes from the new album — all are oldies, durrrr. No vidz at all have yet been posted from the tour’s opening night in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Though the band played two gigs at the SXSW media festival in Texas and included five tracks from the new album All You Need Is Now, there’s no sign of any of them on video by close of play Friday. Hence the choice of HoraceScope’s performance vid, above, in excellent HD: the lubricious new tune Being Followed was shot in London at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire recording for Radio 2 earlier this month (Dom Brown on guitar).

Duran Duran, US tour, Winstar Casino, 2011, Simon Le Bon, John Taylor

Update March 20: first US tour vid of a new Duran tune on YT shows Mediterranea at Winstar Casino, Oklahoma, posted by alyciabear72 — http://tinyurl.com/4gvnkmo

Let’s not forget the big 30th anniversary party: next week is the very same in 1981 when Duran’s debut single Planet Earth entered the UK Top 20 where it was to reach No 12. What better way to celebrate than with the next date on their US tour — the much vaunted concert directed by film-maker David Lynch in LA on Wednesday night US time, so all the more reason to catch its live YouTube webcast at 2am UTC Thursday (repeated 8pm for the UK).

As an eye witness at this week’s Stubbs gig at SXSW, Kitty Amsbry of the American fansite Gimmeawristband reports: “Le Bon’s vocals were top-notch, from the highest notes of Ordinary World to the spiteful snarls of Friends of Mine. The band even managed to look cool while calling themselves to a halt, and taking it from the top again on Safe; showing a serious commitment to quality while still remaining playful. [Echoes here of the nervous Hadley and Kemp on the first night of Spandau’s reunion tour.] Yet for that one misstep, each and every other song, old or new, had the unmistakable charge of being right there in the moment.”

Of SXSW, Time Out North America reported: “Impressively—astonishingly, even—the band still looks cool. Besides immaculately fitted black suits, part of the reason for this is that for all their playboy behavior in the 80s, Duran Duran could actually play and write songs… and still can.”

➢ Listen to Duran Duran’s richly layered standout
♫ Girl Panic!

After the taster-reviews of the nine tracks released digitally before Christmas, a second wave of reviews is now trickling out, though it’s hard to tell whether the additional numbers being released on the 14-track CD next week have been considered. Verdicts are largely favourable, despite some sniffy reservations over three seemingly dud tunes, praise being directed principally to the same seven tracks, the four standouts being Safe, Too Bad You’re So Beautiful, The Man Who Stole a Leopard and Girl Panic!

all you need is now: excerpts from
verdicts published so far…

Duran Duran, 2011, All you need is now ➢ The musical DNA of the British group’s early sound is hard to miss — Alex Veiga, Associated Press, syndicated across the US
“The album overflows with Duran Duran’s sonic staples: lush synths layered over driving, dance-floor ready bass lines; disco-inspired percussion, frequently accented with Latin beats; and, the high-flying, moody vocals and harmonies. On the funky Girl Panic! the percussion recalls the group’s classic The Reflex. On the title track, a whirring synth drone builds to a sing-along friendly chorus: And you sway in the moon the way you did when you were younger/And we told everybody all you need is now. The Man Who Stole a Leopard might be the album’s standout cut, somewhat evocative of the band’s dark and sexy classic The Chauffeur.”

➢ Not everything is worth making the journey
— Mikael Wood, LA Times

“It’s hard to know why the band bothered adding five new songs to the superior nine-track version of All You Need Is Now that Duran Duran released through iTunes late last year. But with their sleek keyboard lines, trebly guitar chatter and frontman Simon Le Bon’s swooping vocal melodies, taut neo-New Wave gems like Being Followed and Girl Panic! make a strong argument for the lasting utility of these hitmakers’ original formula.”

➢ Will appal their detractors but delight true believers
— Dan Cairns, Sunday Times Culture

“[Producer Mark] Ronson brings out Duran’s 1960s-tinged melodiousness  and avant-garde leanings. Their best album for decades.”

➢ Duran Duran embrace middle age — Ed Potton, The Times
“Mark Ronson as producer… understands what they do best — spacious pop songs with a bittersweet undertow. The title track, a thrilling blast of grandstanding choruses and wonky synths, will sit comfortably alongside The Reflex and Save a Prayer. It’s in the lyrics, never previously a Duran forte, that Le Bon and Co cast themselves gamely into the contemporary fray. The likeably eccentric The Man Who Stole a Leopard exudes an acceptance of vanishing youth. ‘You were once running wild,’ Le Bon sings (addressing Yasmin?). Now, however, ‘we’ve both been tamed’. Being Followed appears to curse the intrusion of stalkers and/or CCTV. ‘I’ve done things I don’t ever want you to know,’ Le Bon wails.”

➢ The best Duran Duran album for 18 years
— Tom Hocknell at BBC Music

“They have thankfully stopped seeking credibility, and it suits them. Their calling card here is the garage rock of the title-track (if you can imagine a garage band playing alongside Bentleys), which morphs into a soaring chorus reminiscent of Rio. Scissor Sister Ana Matronic slots perfectly into the disco-flecked Safe, an unashamed return to their original sound. They sound similarly well preserved on the slinky Being Followed, and Girl Panic! also mines their new-wave roots.”

➢ Duran Duran’s 13th album emerges as their best in years
— Thomas H Green, Daily Telegraph

“There are strong guest appearances from Kelis and Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters, slowies to match their gem Ordinary World, and rip-roaring Chic-meets-Roxy pop-rockers such as Girl Panic! … Full of tunes and pizzazz, it’s unexpectedly good fun.”

➢ Duran Duran have unearthed their missing mojo
— Dave Simpson, Guardian online

“[Producer] Mark Ronson has sprinkled guests like Kelis and Ana Matronic over his postmodern sheen, but the surprise is the quality of the songwriting. The title track and groove-thrusting Too Bad You’re So Beautiful are once-heard, sing-the-chorus pop stonkers.”

➢ Still hungry after all these years — Adrian Thrills, Daily Mail
“The band’s 13th album is much better than most of us could have anticipated. The nine new songs benefit from a diverse cast of special guests. Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters adds a seductive rap on Safe (In the Heat of the Moment). New York soul diva Kelis impresses on The Man Who Stole A Leopard. But if Mark Ronson’s input provides a creative spark, the most impressive thing is Duran Duran’s return to form as songwriters. The frontman, to his credit, also supplies some wonderful, multi-tracked vocal harmonies, superbly augmented by Rhodes’ clever electronic prompts and the urgent grooves of the rhythm section.”

➢ Nine songs full of the promise and thrill of 1981-83
— Crispin Kott at Pop Matters

“All You Need Is Now isn’t Son of Rio, but it’s the best album Duran Duran has released since then, a collection that manages what their best material always has, blending art with grand gestures and popcraft. It’s nine songs full of the promise and thrill of 1981-83… This is the sound of time stood still, of a feeling of reckless and sophisticated abandon launched decades forward without skipping a beat.”

➢ Listen to Duran Duran’s discreet and flawless epic
♫ The Man Who Stole a Leopard (featuring Kelis)

➢ Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon are incredibly adept pop songwriters — Forest at TRT
“My favourite song so far, Girl Panic!, is the best of all worlds. It’s got that optimistic pomp I’ve always loved about Duran Duran’s brightest tracks, with a chorus that I would love to buy property in. For me, this song is the ultimate cross between Rio and Electric Barbarella.”

➢ A success on many levels — Möhammad Choudhery at Consequence of Sound
“Certainly a commendable effort if for no reason other than it’s the band’s most relevant and listenable record in almost two decades. And though it’s not quite Rio 2.0, Duran Duran’s 13th album does possess many of the qualities that put the synth-pop legends on the map in the first place.”

➢ A return to roots for a band that’s all implants
— Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone

“Being Followed and the tawdry Runway Runaway are every bit the chic Riviera rock of Duran’s 1980s classics. A hoot.”

Duran Duran, US tour, 2011, SXSW, interview, video

➢ VIEW the Facebook Live chat with John Taylor & Nick Rhodes at SXSW in Texas, March 16. Rhodes claims to have 100,000 photos in his personal archive he’d like to get published somehow