“ Oh but I’m proud of you, but I’m proud of you
Nothing left to make me feel small
Luck has left me standing so tall
Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know
Always believe in, because you are
Glad that you’re bound to return
There’s something I could have learned
You’re indestructible, always believing“
Even if you don’t know the name Spandau Ballet, chances are you would have heard one of their hits somewhere by chance. Their music has been featured in everything from the Simpsons to the Wedding Singer and from Nescafe to Nissan ads. They were the sound of the eighties.
Suave singer Tony Hadley, brothers Gary (the songwriter) and Martin Kemp, cute Steve Norman and drummer John Keeble were the poster boys on everyone’s wall – unless you were a Duran, Duran fan or sitting on the proverbial musical fence. They were leaders in both fashion and music, sporting many a memorable look. They were the Bowie kids from the Western suburbs, unashamed of frills or keyboards. They embraced electronica into their soul roots and never looked back.
Formed in the late 1970’s, they were originally named The Cut, before swapping to what they hoped was a more prophetic name – The Makers. The name Spandau Ballet came to them courtesy of a toilet wall in a Berlin nightclub. Not nearly as classy a beginning as the vision they believed the name represented.
They fell apart in the late eighties, but not before playing Bob Geldof’s Live Aid charity concert in 1984 and achieving massive chart success both at home in the UK and overseas.
The Kemps went on to a movie role in The Krays, with Martin remaining in TV as part of the Eastenders cast and Gary taking on other things.
Tony Hadley has continued to tour, and has made it to Australia several times, with John Keeble as his drummer. Tony was part of the Rockwiz tv show, in which (not realising the format of the show) he famously thought he would just be in and out to give an interview and sing a song, and could then proceed on to his pre-booked dinner. But we love Tony. How could you not love a man with a voice like that!
Steve had a breakdown and left it all to live in Ibiza.
Showing tonight is their music documentary Soul Boys of the Western World, the result of the bands’ 20 year hiatis. Telling the story of their rise to the ‘top of the pops’ to their spectacular demise and eventually the putting together of pieces and putting aside of differences to be true to their souls and reform the band to become Virgin Media’s Best Comeback of 2009. A brief Q&A just held up the most important bit – the guys getting down to business and playing.
Five brilliant, beautiful songs, spanning their career were awaiting us, and you’d never know the boys had been apart for so long. Hadley’s voice is impeccable as always, beautiful and emotion filled. Steve Norman still looks great. John Keeble still rocks. Martin Kemp is looking good despite two brain tumours. I’m unexcited by Gary Kemp. I think the film did it.
We are gifted the gems Through the Barricades, To Cut a Long Story Short, Only When You Leave, Chant No. 1 and True. There was hardly a soul left sitting when the guys got to True (“what are you guys like?” says Tony Hadley “all sitting there nice and demure and then….that!”). I would line up tonight for tickets to their full show in Melbourne next May (I may already be on the internet searching for pre-sale info….)
The performance was nothing short of gold.