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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


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


2011 ➤ Peter Frampton: how Bowie changed my life at Bromley Tech

Peter Frampton, Frampton Comes Alive,world tour 2011,1954 Les Paul Custom

Frampton then and now: the 1976 gatefold sleeve shot for Frampton Comes Alive! by Richard Aaron... and earlier this year playing live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, photographed by Wenn... Both pictures are united by Frampton’s signature guitar, the solidbody “Black Beauty” 1954 Les Paul Custom, which was re-finished with three pickups by the Gibson factory in 1970. In fact the original Black Beauty (left) was lost in a 1980 cargo plane crash, after which Gibson’s crafted another guitar in the image of the 1954 Les Paul Custom but with a slim-carved neck profile for optimum speed plus ebony black finish (above right)

❚ 35 YEARS AGO BRITISH-BORN GUITARIST Peter Frampton was a rock god, given two Rolling Stone covers within months of each other, the second declaring him Rock Star of the Year. His appeal has evidently been reignited by this year’s 35th anniversary world tour of his multi-platinum album Frampton Comes Alive!, drenched as it always was with West Coast sunshine. The “better than ever” tour has been extended from this Friday with extra dates in the UK and Europe, and yet more in the US from February. There is no support and the show runs for three hours. FCA! is the first set, including a 14-minute arrangement of Do You Feel Like We Do to re-create his epic stadium concerts of 1976. The second half features newer work, but also earlier numbers that resulted from forming the supergroup Humble Pie with “little” Stevie Marriott of the Small Faces in 1969.

Peter Frampton, Rolling Stone, magazines, Rock Star of the Year,

Cover star: in April 1976 Frampton Comes Alive! won him the cover of Rolling Stone. Afterwards, he feared the shirtless photo by Francesco Scavullo “turned me into a pop idol” and would reduce his career to 18 months... Fortunately by the following February he was photographed by Annie Liebovitz as Rock Star of the Year

It has taken this comeback to remind us, or for most of us to reveal, that Frampton learned to play the rock classics at the feet of another Beckenham boy, David Bowie, when they were students together in south London.

➢ The Bowiezone website supplies these (and other) childhood details:
[Frampton] first became interested in music when he was seven years old. Upon discovering his grandmother’s banjolele (a banjo-shaped ukulele) in the attic, he taught himself to play, and later taught himself to play guitar and piano as well. At the age of eight he started taking classical music lessons.

Both he and David Bowie were pupils at Bromley Technical High School where Frampton’s father, Owen Frampton, was head of the art department. The Little Ravens played on the same bill at school as Bowie’s band, George and the Dragons. Peter and David would spend time together at lunch breaks, playing Buddy Holly songs.

At the age of 11, Peter was playing with a band called The Trubeats followed by a band called The Preachers, produced and managed by Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones. He became a successful child singer, and in 1966, he became a member of The Herd, scoring a handful of British pop hits. Frampton was named The Face of 1968 by teen magazine Rave!.

➢ In an interview this summer with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Frampton himself added this first-hand account:

I got to know [Bowie] when I was 12 and he was 14, 15, maybe. I said, ‘What music do you like right now?’ He said, ‘Buddy Holly.’ I said, ‘Teach me that.’ I remember sitting on the stairs at lunchtime with two guitars and him and George Underwood — who became the artist who did the covers of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane — and the three of us would hang out and play Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly numbers.”

While in school, Frampton became lead singer and guitarist of the Herd. In 1969, he formed Humble Pie with Steve Marriott of the Small Faces and also did session work on albums, including George Harrison’s classic All Things Must Pass. After five LPs with Humble Pie, he went solo in 1971.

Bowie and Frampton in New York rehearsing for the Glass Spider Tour, 1987: Peter contributed to the album Never Let Me Down, Bowie’s follow-up to Let’s Dance, then played lead guitar on tour. Photograph by David McGough

The Bowie connection was rekindled in 1987 when Frampton was hired to play on the Never Let Me Down album and then as lead guitarist for that year’s Glass Spider Tour. Echoes of Bowie can often be heard in Frampton’s own vocals, especially his acoustic version of Baby I Love Your Way — shown below in impressive footage recently released from promoter Bill Graham’s archive.

➢ Bowiezone recently published an interview with Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, the drummer on Bowie’s early 70s albums



2011 ➤ Stand and deliver: Adam Ant versus Marco in a battle of bands

Guardian , Adam Ant,video, Stand and Deliver,pop music

➢ Click picture to run video in new window — Today at Guardian online Adam Ant gives a video interview in the strand: How I wrote … Stand and Deliver, his chart-topping hit from May 1981. When he starts strumming the tune, why not try cueing up the video below by Marco Pirroni, his onetime lead guitarist in the Ants and songwriting partner, then compare the results? Adam and Marco shared an Ivor Novello Award for this number

❏ Adam explains the song’s mix of images… “I very much like the 18th century, and the traditional sayings that everyone knows like ‘Stand and deliver’ and ‘Drop your drawers and ten bob’s yours’.” Adam says he wove together various other themes in the song: a touch of Tommy Steele’s Where’s Jack? based loosely on DickTurpin, plus Native American Indians and a bit of piracy. Result: “The lyric wrote itself. It was really a manifesto of what was to come… I knew I’d cracked it when the window cleaner round my house was singing it and changing the lyrics and didn’t know it was my flat… I was very flattered by that.”

➢ Click this link to hear Marco Pirroni’s interview with Marcella Puppini for Shoreditch Radio last Tuesday — it is still online

❏ As Adam’s songwriting partner in the Ants, Marco co-wrote five number-one singles, a further four top tens with him, their two number-one albums, plus many more songs during 20 years together. When Marcella Puppini asked about his songwriting with Adam, Marco said: “I don’t think it’s something I really want to talk about at the present time.” Of his input into the music, he said: “I don’t write lyrics generally. I work with riffs and you keep playing. You have a moment when you think I really like playing this and the person you’re working goes: ‘It’s really good’. There are no rules. John Lennon’s tragic death kept us off No 1 [in Dec 1980], then I remember doing Stand and Deliver and thinking that’s going to happen. We weren’t going to be No 1 with just anything. I thought that’s catchy, that’s going to work.”


Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni,

Early 80s: Adam and Marco in happier days

➢ Adam Ant: back from the brink— in today’s Daily Telegraph Andrew Perry listens to Adam like a respectful fan while interviewing Stuart Goddard with the care of a concerned parent…

After numerous tribulations, he’s to make a dramatic comeback to music next month, with his first full tour in more than 15 years. A couple of years ago, Goddard gradually withdrew from antidepressants, and the songwriting came back… He’s recorded a double album, which he plans to release himself in January 2012, entitled ‘Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in: Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter’.

Goddard, now 56… talks of fronting an association for misdiagnosed bipolar sufferers, and of an album he’s writing for a third version of Adam and the Ants, which won’t include Pirroni. (“He did something to me which I won’t forgive him for. I’ll never go on stage with him again in my life.”) It’s equally difficult not to worry that all this hare-brained scheming is merely a manifestation of the old “manic” self. Now he’s off the medication, can he cope with those desperate mood swings? … He says: “You’ve got to be crazy to be a rock-and-roll singer”.

➢ Tour dates for Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse — 25 stages in a stately, historic progress from Nov 10 at the 850-capacity Cheese & Grain (the 19th-century Market Hall) in Frome, Somerset… to Jan 22 at the 900-capacity former Art Deco cinema, “The Tiv” nightclub in Buckley (once famed for its brickmaking), Flintshire… while taking in on Nov 20 the 2,661-capacity Grade II listed Troxy (view online the virtual tour of this fabulously renovated Art Deco cinema, designed by George Coles) in East London… Somebody has been thinking about these things.


Siouxsie and the Banshees debut at the 100 Club punk festival, 1976: with Steven Severin, Marco Pirroni and John Ritchie (later Sid Vicious) on drums. Photograph by Ray Stevenson

❏ A lynchpin of the UK punk scene, Marco Pirroni became an integral part of Adam and the Ants in 1980 as lead guitarist and co-songwriter, until they went their own ways 20 years later. Today he is a songwriter, producer and guitarist in a rock-and-roll garage band called The Wolfmen, along with another ex-Ant, Chris Constantinou, making a sound described by Mojo magazine as “exuberant filth — Chris and Marco do growing old disgracefully with style”.

➢ Read Mark Youll’s very thorough interview with Marco Pirroni last March at Word of Noise…

“ Q: So it would have been stuff like Roxy Music that inspired you to play guitar?
A: Yeah, Roxy and Mick Ronson. Aladdin Sane made me want to play.
Q: How important would you say glam-rock was to the advent of punk?
A: It was really really important. The glam thing laid the ground rules and maybe the foundations. I know there are lots of punk fans out there that say it’s nothing to do with it, but you can see direct parallels between Ziggy Stardust and Johnny Rotten.

➢ The Wolfmen play the Georgian Theatre Stockton-on-Tees
on Feb 25, 2012


➤ Big Tone Hadley feeling good(-ish) as his Australia tour kicks off

❚ LAST NIGHT IT WAS HOBART, TASMANIA, the first of eight dates in Australia for Tony Hadley and His Band, with John Keeble on drums and Go West sharing the bill. Facebook is awash with admiration from his fans down-under and he’s sounding pretty relaxed covering Feeling Good in the video shot by sabathiel01 (above) … We’re not sure what was eating Tony in the “losing-it” moment caught by Nyree Yali (below), while guitarist Richie Barrett didn’t know which way to jump!

➢ Update Oct 26: interview with Western Weekender in Penrith, NSW — “I decided to get together with my old mates from Go West because we’ve worked together before and been great friends for a long time,” Tony said. “People like to see musicians and singers mix together and have a good time, so they’ll be doing all their hits, I’ll be doing all my hits, plus maybe a song or two from my forthcoming album. I’m a big fan of bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers, so there’ll be some interesting covers in there as well,” he said.

➢ “Spandau Ballet made some crucial mistakes in America in the 80s” Tony tells The West Australian, Oct 5. “You can’t just have a hit there — you have to tour and back it up. We had a big cult following there but never followed it up. I took my band there this year and the reviews were first class, which is what I wanted. Now the agents are calling so we’ll work with that.”

➢ Upcoming dates for Tony Hadley and His Band include Nov 12 Abu Dhabi, Dec 1 Hamburg O2, and Dec 2 Berlin O2

➢ Reviews and videos of Tony’s first US solo tour in August at Shapersofthe80s and a few interview squibs as he said Good morning America!

➢ Convivial music and chat interview with Paul “Goffy” Gough in conversation with Tony Hadley when his 10-piece band played before 1,300 guests at the 8th annual Oyster Festival in Sedgefield, County Durham, on Sep 16, 2011. Lessons learned in life? “Don’t get the lawyers involved. It was an expensive way to learn about English civil law. I can laugh about it now. It cost me an absolute arm and a leg.”

Hobart, Tasmania, live concert,Tony Hadley, pop music

Hadley in Hobart: At Facebook, Vivien Cumberland asks, “What’s going on here? Looks like poor Richie is going to get a smack in the face.” Nyree Yali, who took this pic, says, “I don’t know, LOL. Tony was pulling this face & my camera cooperated at just the right time to capture it. Looks like Richie’s thinking, WTF are you doing???”

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2011 ➤ Johnny Marr “very very happy” with Smiths Complete, despite grumbles from fans

Johnny Marr, Mark Radcliffe ,Stuart Maconie , 6Music, interview,

Johnny Marr at the BBC yesterday: Radcliffe and Maconie on their best behaviour

❚ HOW IS EX-SMITHS GUITARIST Johnny Marr taking criticism of his efforts to “remaster” eight albums by The Smiths, knocked out by the greatest British rock group of the 80s in four refreshing and prolific years? (Marr’s favourite Smiths album is Strangeways, Here We Come from 1987, the year they split amid rancour.) On October 3 Rhino Records UK releases The Smiths Complete, in a variety of formats priced from £35 to £250. One of the two credible Morrissey fansites, True-to-You, claims that the charismatic Smiths singer has had no input into the Complete project, “which has taken place without any approach to Morrissey from either Warner, Rhino, or Johnny Marr”. If so, how sad is that?

Let it be noted that the majority of fans seem thrilled with the new box set. Nevertheless, at The Smiths Facebook page this week a noticeable number of diehards are reacting angrily that Rhino’s marketing ploy swims in the face of the band’s ethos in the 80s, when they were “the antithesis of all this turgid corporate repackaging”. One fan calls the Complete package “another great rock ’n’ roll swindle”. Another asks “Is Johnny Marr skint or something?” Online at the Amazon store another quibbles over the omission of some Smiths tracks: “Why call it Complete when in reality some songs are missing?”

Yesterday Johnny Marr answered his critics — if only indirectly. On their 6Music radio show, Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie had clearly been put on red alert to mention neither the name of Johnny’s former songwriting partner Morrissey, not once, nor the all-too-public fan criticism. With them on their anodyne best behaviour,  Johnny was geniality itself in conversation, as you’ll hear on the 16-minute clip at BBC iPlayer (available till Oct 5).

➢ Hear Johnny Marr talking to Radcliffe and Maconie and singing The Healers’ Down on the Corner

The Smiths Complete, boxset, remastered,Frank Arkwright,Johnny MarrWe hear a brisk clip of Moz’s vocals on Nowhere Fast from the Meat is Murder album, “remastered” by Johnny and the respected engineer Frank Arkwright who painstakingly located all the original half-inch tapes. Johnny prefers to say: “Restored is probably more appropriate. I didn’t add anything. Remastering sounds mysterious, but actually I was taking all the ‘nonsense’ off the original records. I knew we sounded better than that.”

What did the nonsense amount to? “When the greatest hits came out in the late 80s as CDs they were jacked up with loads of top end and hardly any bass. I made it really, really natural. I didn’t fall into that trap that a lot of modern bands have fallen into recently — it’s got to sound louder than the new Green Day record. I’m very very happy.”

Johnny talks first of the current live dates by his new band The Healers, both in Manchester tonight at the Night & Day Cafe, and at the Deaf Institute on Oct 4 and 6, New York City on Oct 13 and “wherever we want to go”.

➢ So far only Uncut magazine offers a “review” of Smiths Complete. — Curiously, it does not amount to a review. Instead David Cavanagh actually writes an excellent discussion of The Smiths’ recording landmarks, 1984–88, while offering only one lukewarm sentence appraising the newly remastered set. Is he damning with faint praise?

➢ Johnny Marr’s fab new website has a huge gallery called Guitar Orchestra plus a ripping biography that rattles through his career’s twists and turns (including our hero as visiting Professor of Music at Salford University)

❏ Smiths to reform? “If this government stepped down then I’ll do it. It’s a fair trade isn’t it?”

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