Spandau Ballet performing their Soul Boys Of The Western World Tour at the Capital FM Arena Nottingham on Tuesday 10th March 2015
Images and Review by Kevin Cooper
Of course, all successful bands need a good story, and Spandau Ballet have loads of those. First there were the Kemp brothers leaving to pursue an acting career and then the famous court case over royalties which appeared to be the final nail in the coffin for the five school friends from North London. But with a lot of water having flowed under the bridge and a twenty year hiatus, Spandau Ballet, those Soul Boys Of The Western World, are still going strong and are back out on tour again.
Having abandoned the new romantic outfits of frilly shirts and pantaloons, the quintet appeared on stage to a packed Arena crowd, in sharp suits and silk scarves much more befitting for men in their mid-50’s. Opening with new song Soul Boy, the hits quickly followed with Highly Strung and the powerful Only When You Leave immediately brought this crowd to their feet. Whilst new song Steal calmed this mainly female focused audience, Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On), got them back up singing and dancing.
With Spandau having started the 80’s in the avant glam, post punk firmament of new romantics, it was great to hear them pay homage to the late Steve Strange, when they performed a medley of songs in his honour in front of a neon visual proclaiming ‘BLITZ’ (after his scene defining London club). Reformation, Mandolin, Confused, The Freeze and To Cut A Long Story Short all came from their 1981 debut album, Journeys To Glory, and were as good tonight as they were then. Hadley told us that the band had been in Nottingham in 1983 when they learnt that True had reached the number one spot in the UK charts, and that Steve Strange had joined them for a celebratory drink. In all it was a fitting tribute to a man who had clearly helped Spandau in those early days.
Following on was a version of Empty Spaces which was performed acoustically on a stage at the back of the Arena, and which was a lovely moment. As footage from their original career from start to 1989 played behind them, the band launched into I’ll Fly For You, Instinction, Communication and Lifeline, all of which were given real musical welly, with the band pacing the stage to make sure each section of the audience was rewarded with alternating views.
The evening reached a climax with their massive hit True, which had the audience singing along to every word. Coming back on stage to deliver what I think to be one of the best Spandau songs ever written, Through The Barricades, with Tony Hadley delivering a powerful and moving rendition of a song which is timeless. Of course they had to end with Gold, a song that Martin Kemp said about in a recent interview, that when brother Gary first played it to him, he knew that it was going to be a huge hit.
Tonight’s performance had been a delightful trip down memory lane. Steve Norman had been simply sublime on the saxophone and the amount of instruments he played was inspirational. Martin Kemp plays a mean bass, whilst drummer John Keeble thrashed his kit with such enthusiasm that it was clear that he was having a really good time. Gary Kemp, all business on guitar, kept out of the limelight and left it to Tony Hadley to steal the show with his powerful voice that hasn’t aged a bit.
At the end Spandau Ballet gathered for a bow and to soak up the huge applause handed to them by this very appreciative crowd. They stayed there at the front of the stage for some time, basking in it and really enjoying the roaring adulation. They were massive pop stars once and tonight, they were once again.
It was good to have the Soul Boys back.