Monday, May 11, 2015

Spandau Ballet's Still Got It

Been dragging my feet writing about this, but ended up buying 11th hour tickets to see Spandau Ballet at the Beacon last weekend. When they first announced the big reunion tour, my first reaction was "Wow, finally the news dozens have been waiting to hear" -- they're widely remembered as a one-hit wonder here in the states -- but the near-capacity and fully engaged crowd proved I was wrong. Unlike every person I asked to go with me, I wasn't a "I only know 'True'" kind of guy, nor did I own every song they ever put out, which I tend to do when I'm really into an artist. Still, it was only when seeing them live -- and then going to see the documentary about the group, "Soul Boys of the Western World," -- did I really come to appreciate how tight and influential a band they are. Unlike many of his blue-eyed soul counterparts, Tony Hadley's pipes sound every bit as strong as the day "To Cut a Long Story Short" first came out nearly 35 years ago. Steve Norman is as hunky and dynamic as ever -- playing nearly a dozen instruments throughout the night. The Kemp brothers are still movie-star handsome and as gifted as ever. (Martin survived a life-threatening brain tumor and Gary has spent the last decade trying to get the guys to stop hating him for his heyday egomania). Drummer John Keeble is a better drummer than he was then, and seemed to be enjoying the reunion most of all. While I was a little disappointed "Musclebound" and "She Loved Like Diamond" were skipped to make way for new songs and later-era material, a rousing rendition of "Chant No. 1" as well as a heavy dose of tunes from the "True" album reminded me why that album did become the group's signature release. "Round and Round," "Communication" and especially "Lifeline" are all pure pop perfection, and had me wondering how Gary Kemp could have been such a gifted songwriter at such a tender age. 

When the boys closed it out with "Gold" -- and the entire theater sang along, this time unprompted -- I realized this was a reunion I was dying to see, even if I didn't realize it at the time.

Set list:

Soul Boy
Highly Strung
Only When You Leave
How Many Lies
Round and Round
This Is the Love Steal
Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)
Blitz Medley: Age of Blows Intro / Reformation / Mandolin / Confused / The Freeze
To Cut a Long Story Short
Empty Spaces
Gold (sing along, brief version)
Once More
I'll Fly for You

Through the Barricades

P.S. Even if you're not a hardcore fan, lovers of '80s music or just '80s history in general will love "Soul Boys of the Western World." Chock-filled with rare footage of the Blitz club, Band Aid, Margaret Thatcher, the U.K. miners' strike and everything in between, it's a real pleaser.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How is it possible that at no time in the past 33 years did I ever see that photo?