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Yep, this was a monster, and I hear theyre making a comeback.
Spandau Ballet set to reveal comebackThe frilly-shirted new romantics are expected to announce their comeback on board the HMS Belfast in London on Wednesday
Eighties pop stars Spandau Ballet set aside their differences to reform for a greatest hits tour of UK and Ireland Link to this video The Stone Roses aside, band reunion fever continues to spread – and Spandau Ballet are the latest to be afflicted. The frilly-shirted Englishmen are set to announce their comeback gigs this Wednesday, at an event on the HMS Belfast in London.
The last time we saw three of the band's five members, they were suing guitarist Gary Kemp. In their 1999 suit, Tony Hadley, Steve Norman and John Keeble sought £1m in songwriting royalties. They lost the high court case.
With the forthcoming announcement the feud seems to be water under the bridge. All five members – including Gary Kemp and his brother Martin – are to appear, and reportedly perform, on the Thames boat where they played their first gig.
"The boys are back in town and we can't wait," Hadley told the Sunday People. "It's going to be brilliant, we're very excited. But it will be very different to how we used to be. Obviously there'll be all the hits, the nostalgia, but there will also be a new take on what Spandau Ballet are about."
There is no word yet as to whether this means a new album.
Though Spandau Ballet began as new romantics in the early 80s, they shot to success with glossy synth-pop songs such as Gold, True and Only When You Leave. After three platinum albums, their final LP – 1989's Heart Like a Sky – was a flop.
The Kemps spent the intervening years as actors, appearing together in the 1990 British gangster film The Krays. Martin Kemp went on to star in EastEnders.
Spandau Ballet's reunion tour will consist of 10 dates in November and December, according to the Daily Mail. With concerts planned across the UK and Europe, the tour will finish at Barcelona's 100,000-capacity Camp Nou football stadium.
The band are expected to earn a reported £12m, which seems like a strong motivation to bury any outstanding hatchets. If only certain other bands were as easily bought.
Spandau Ballet: The sound of Thatcherism
I loathed Spandau Ballet first time round; I loathe them equally now they have re-formed. Their emptiness and happy embrace of style over substance is Thatcherism on vinyl
Thatcherism was about more than politics. It was, obviously, also a cultural phenomenon that transformed British society. So while one can list any number of cultural trends from the 70s or 90s without linking them irrevocably to Ted Heath, Harold Wilson, John Major and Tony Blair, that's far harder to do with the cultural products of the 80s. City wide-boys; chrome-and-black-leather furniture; mobile phones the size of bricks; me-first attitudes: those are among the fruits of Thatcherism.
We tend to assume music was the antidote to that. Those of us who were teenagers in the 80s maybe recall the protest festivals organised by the great metropolitan councils; we think of the emergence of world music and hip-hop; we remember Red Wedge and miners' benefits and watching indie bands share the bill with jugglers to raise money for the Sandinistas. We even remember NME running feature after feature about politics.
The problem is, that's a selective view. Maybe pop writers loved the avowedly anti-Thatcherite likes of the Smiths – and we certainly still hear plenty about them from pop writers – but the records people were buying were made by musicians who reflected the aspirations and assumptions of the time, even if they did so unwittingly. They were buying records by people like Spandau Ballet.
I loathed Spandau Ballet first time round; I loathe them equally now. More than any other musical assembly with the possible exception of Stock Aitken and Waterman, they are Thatcherism on vinyl.
It's not completely their fault. Gary Kemp was introduced warmly by Bishop Trevor Huddleston at an anti-apartheid rally in 1986, at which Huddleston revealed that he had given Kemp his first guitar – which raises the possibility that this lofty figure of British liberalism was indirectly responsible for True.
But it is mostly their fault, and it's hard not to believe the band themselves understand the linkage. After all, the Tony Hadley homepage on his agent's website describes the band's demise thus: "As the Thatcher years drew to a close, Spandau disbanded." You don't hit on that formulation by accident. Hadley himself is a committed Conservative who attends party conferences and was rumoured to be interested in running for Parliament. And he's definitely not at the Cameronian "hug a hoodie" end of the party: he liked the way Thatcher did things.
But the link between Spandau Ballet and Thatcherism is about more than the personal politics of Tony Hadley. It's about the emptiness of Spandau, the aspiration to do nothing more than look good in a nightclub, the happy embrace of style over substance. Billy Bragg has even attributed his decision to become a performer to them: "One day [I] saw Spandau Ballet on Top of the Pops wearing kilts and singing Chant No 1 and something in me snapped. I was waiting for a band to come along to play the kind of music I wanted to hear, and none was forthcoming, so it was that moment I finally realised it was gonna have to be me," he said at a press conference in August 2003.
And we still haven't talked about the music. We haven't mentioned the sexless funk of Chant No 1. Nor the oddly fascistic undertones of Musclebound. Nor the dreadful wine-bar soul of True, which was No 1 for four years between 1984 and 1988. And that's because, really, Spandau Ballet weren't about the music, just as chrome-and-black-leather furniture wasn't really about sitting down.
Nothing, though, really tells you more about Spandau Ballet than the nature of their re-formation. This, after all, is a band who came to hate each other so much that they ended up in court in 1999, when songwriter Gary Kemp was sued by three of the other members for back royalties. Kemp won, amid incredible bitterness, and in 2003, Hadley told Metro newspaper: "I want nothing to do with Spandau ever again." Presumably that only applied until the cash offers became too big to ignore.
I have no problem with bands reuniting for money, though I wish more of them would admit that is the reason. But few bands bands manage to hate each other this much, and then swallow their resentments (let's give a hand to Take That for deciding to eschew the Robbie route) – and those that have done so have usually had some artistic capital in the bank, like Pixies, or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
But Spandau Ballet and art? Hardly words that go together. Kind of like Thatcherism and art.
Shakatak - Down On The Streets
Simply Red - holding back the years - totp 1984
^ Carl Cox backing singer of the Brand New Heavies...
Heard this on Radio 2 today
Jamiroquai, Too Young To Die on Top of the Pops
Jamiroquai - Deeper Underground - TOTP
Jamiroquai - Blow Your Mind [Top Of The Pops]
Incognito feat Jocelyn Brown - Always There (TOTP)
Steve Miller Band - The Joker
Tasmin Archer - Sleeping Satellite (TOTP)