“Hadley’s band added some beautiful melodic twists to some of the Spandau classics and he encouraged a mass sing-along while he performed True. Highlights for me included Hadley’s personal all-time favourite Through the Barricades, and his new track What Am I? a poignant reflection on his split from Spandau. . .” / Continued at the Bournemouth Echo online
“Backed by a talented band, the percussion and saxophone parts that made the Spandau songs shine are replicated throughout the concert. Take Back Everything, a track off the new album opens up the show, whether the title is a statement of intent I’m not sure, but it was a powerful introduction to the evening. . . Mid-set we get the customary acoustic section with the Jim Croce cover, Time In a Bottle sounding good, whilst a duet with percussionist Lily Gonzalez on the Spandau classic, I’ll Fly For You was a set highlight. It made the hairs on your back stand up. . .” / Continued at Yorkshire Times online
A confident debut with Spandau Ballet: Ross William Wild at Subterania last night
Ross William Wild’s debut with Spandau Ballet: from left, Martin, Ross, Steve and Gary
◼ AND WHAT TOUR DE FORCE the entire band made of Spandau Ballet’s rebirth last night to showcase their new singer Ross William Wild who effortlessly filled the space onstage vacated by Tony Hadley. At the age of 30 Aberdeen-reared Ross could easily be the son of any of the Spandau dads around him, yet he had infused new energy into them to inspire one of the tightest all-round performances in recent years. He embodies all a lead singer should: energy, confidence, instantly likeability and a strong singing voice that almost never sounds like his predecessor.
Ross was announced by the tabloids as an Elvis Presley impersonator so it was a relief that this is not what we saw or heard: in fact the inflexions in his singing voice do reflect his principal experience in musical theatre, most recently in The Million Dollar Quartet, The Witches of Eastwick, and We Will Rock You. And though in the Noughties he was the lead singer in a nu-metal band called Lethal Dosage, Ross performs with shoulders, arms, hips, feet – in fact, his entire body just as you’d expect in a stage musical.
Spandau’s rebirth set list
From Spandau’s nostalgically involved opening hit Through the Barricades, Ross made each of the set’s 13 hit numbers his own (with almost as many changes of shirt!).
Spotlit on a darkened stage, his first three minutes were a vocal slow-burn alongside a masterly Gary Kemp on solo guitar. It was a daring move to persuade us to listen. By the second line, as he gave vibrato to the lyric, Ross was evidently “feeling strong”, and from here on he introduced us to his voice in gentle stages, slowly raising the temperature, until the pause. . . Then: bam-bam! Keeble’s drums announced the bombast of Barricades proper, and Ross let rip to command centre-stage, amid the familiar Spandau front-line on vocals. They climaxed with a big sound in an intimate clubby space, up close to 500 of their fans. What a statement of intent!
HEAR ROSS’S FIRST VERSE OF ‘BARRICADES’
Ross excelled in another emotional classic Only When You Leave, had the audience eating out of his spiralling hand for Round and Round, pogoing through Lifeline, and by the encore the hot summer’s evening had him stripped down to a vest as he gloriously re-energised To Cut a Long Story Short to sound like a brand-new number. Amazingly, at the bar afterwards, Ross said he was intrigued by its lyrics since he first heard this hit from 1980, but read none of Gary Kemp’s meaning into it or the lyrical quotation it contains. He imagines it is set in the first world war trenches and reflects the strange solitude of the soldier.
The band’s families and friends turned out along with veteran Blitz Kids and Beat Routers (smashing to see you again, genial doorman Ollie O’Donnell) who could all be seen grooving to Rusty Egan’s unique mixes at the after-party. Sentimental as ever, Martin Kemp had announced from the stage that last night’s venue, Subterania beneath Westway at Portobello Road, was chosen because in its days as Acklam Hall community centre, the original Spandau lineup had played a benefit there under their early name, Gentry, on Saturday 24 February 1979. In the after-bash I recognised the curly-haired photographer Denis O’Regan who was at work with his camera. Spookily I’d just posted one of his seminal band images here at Shapersofthe80s on my own tribute revisit to 1980 when Denis had posed the band in his studio and uplit them to create the dramatic shot of Spandau which became the expressionist motif of their live performance that spring at the Scala Cinema.
Verdicts from the band on their young vocalist are breathless. Gary Kemp said: “Ross’s great talent and passion has given us the confidence to continue.” Drummer John Keeble who drove the show with his usual percussive enthusiasm said: “I bonded with Ross over our mutual love of rock music. He may have come up through the theatres but he loves bands like Tool.” Steve Norman added: “He’s also a right nice bloke. We struck lucky.” [I often wonder whether Steve realises just how richly musical his own sax playing is! Ben Webster will be smiling benignly at this.]
At the after-party: Ross William Wild shares song-writing ambitions with Steve Norman’s son Jaco
Patrolling the audience during Spandau’s rebirth gig: their trusty manager Steve Dagger evidently chuffed to bits at their new singer
Spandau’s new boy Ross William Wild met Martin Kemp when they both appeared in Million Dollar Quartet
✭ The identity of the new Spandau vocalist has been cracked: He is a 30-year-old former Aberdeen Grammar School pupil, born in February 1988, whose original name is Ross William Davidson. He has a sister Lucy Indiana Wild living in Canada (and it’s sheer coincidence that today he has a friend called Will Davidson). Ross trained for the stage at Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre from the age of 10, and then studied Musical Theatre at Glasgow Academy of Music Theatre Arts.
Spandau’s new boy Ross William Wild with Nile Rogers at Abbey Road Studios this year – at Instagram
✭ His first instrument was guitar when he was 8 and the first chords that he struck were the blues chords.
✭ Describes himself as musician, singer, actor, writer and adventurer. Tweeted that he enjoyed the Charles II: Art and Power exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery.
Spandau’s new boy Ross William Wild – at Twitter
✭ In 2016 he released his debut solo album Wild Tracks which includes songs written with Trisha Ward.
✭ In 2016 Ross played Elvis Presley in the hit West End musical Million Dollar Quartet and shared the stage with Martin Kemp when he took over the role of record producer Sam Phillips who discovered Presley.
✭ Above, Ross featured as the popular and handsome Daniel in the raunchy 2011 film Downing, where he has sex scenes with a woman and a man. He speaks with a clear Scottish accent.
Tony Hadley: I’m not bitter… Just reaching for the moon
◼ OH THE IRONY! On the day Spandau Ballet post a tease trailer giving us a glimpse of their new vocalist, their former singer Tony Hadley puts tickets on pre-sale for his Talking To The Moon tour, seven dates from 8 October in Birmingham to 17th at Sage One, Gatehead – plus of course, polite cough, on the 16th at the renowned London Palladium!!!
Face wanted in the Spandau Ballet lineup: from left, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Norman. Might the new singer even be female? (Er, no.)
◼ EXPECT A NEWS TSUNAMI TODAY when Spandau Ballet, the New Romantic heroes of the 80s, announce who is going to replace the finally departed Tony Hadley as their singer. AND the date of their first gig together as a revitalised new line-up.
A shortlist of hot tips for the Spands’ new voice was discussed at Shapersofthe80s last summer. Since then we’ve learnt that he/she is not going to be an old 80s has-been. So who’s still in the frame for the key job without which Spandau’s legacy will remain all behind them? Could it really be Brandon Flowers who is known to have discussed a future with Spandau? Or Will Young whose recently acclaimed stage experience in Cabaret might bring a fresh note of theatre to Spandau performances?
Or could it be one of these burgeoning young talents?
* George Maguire, recently touring as Marc Bolan, who also won the Olivier Award for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical in 2015?
* Rami Malek, the 36-year-old star of Mr Robot?
* Layton Williams, who stole all the curtain calls as Angel in Rent, the touring musical?
* Mo Adeniran, the 21-year-old former hotel worker whose show-stopping performance of Iron Sky wowed judges in the blind auditions on The Voice UK?
* Giles Terera, the British actor and musician best known for originating the character of Aaron Burr in the London production of Hamilton for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical?
* Martin Lewis, who sang Gold brilliantly in Stars in Their Eyes?
* Adam J Bernard, who won Best actor in a supporting role in a musical for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre?
* Tyrone Huntley, 2016 winner of the Standard’s Emerging Talent Award, also nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre?
The choice is yours! Sorry, no it’s not. The choice is Spandau’s. And he’s already been hired!
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
An “invaluable website” — historian Dominic Sandbrook, 2012
A UNIQUE HISTORY
➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s ➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates ➢ ROLL OVER THE MENU AT TOP to go deeper into the past ➢ FOR NEWS & MONTH BY MONTH SEARCH, see the sidebar below
❏ 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
SEARCH our 700 posts or ZOOM DOWN TO THE ARCHIVE INDEX
NEWS — OLD FACES, NEW MIXES FOR THE 20-TEENS
✱ Party Time! The current B-52s European tour takes in the UK 29-30 June and 2-3 July, and returns to the States 26 July until September
✱ Visit Radio2 online before 25 June to catch up on this sweeping three-hour musical panorama of what made the Swinging 80s so compelling a chapter in British youth cultural history. Stars among the guests on Martin Kemp’s New Romantics are veteran motormouths, the broadcaster Robert Elms and Wag club director Chris Sullivan, who remind us energetically why they are rightly key Shapers of the 80s. We hear other great stories from Blitz Club deejay Rusty Egan, Blitz Kid and clubbing legend Princess Julia, journalist Paul Simper, ex-Bananarama member Siobhan Fahey, deejays Mark Moore (S’Express/Mud Club) and Playground’s Fat Tony. High-octane playlist of 35 tunes demonstrates the innovative range of sounds that fuelled our dance-floor excesses. Abs no rock.
✱ Watch out for ex-Wag Club supremo Chris Sullivan’s new book Rebel Rebel for £11. It runs to 320 pages with his own illustrations of the likes of Bowie, Iggy and Robert Mitchum. Cheapest bought from Waterstones
✱ Jeff Young on Jazz FM last year made the new 18-track Siren his album of the week. This January it won the Bright Star Music Award for Best Soul / R& B Album 2018, brainchild of Colourful Radio. It was superbly crafted by Londoner Robb Scott, with strong supporting lineup, for the Expansion label. Soul Brother Records says: “A collection of classy soul/jazz grooves on that has jazz at its heart but with some superb soulful brushstrokes applied.” Purchase directly from the artist’s store
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational new 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
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