Tony Hadley chats with Kevin Cooper about playing in Soho Square in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, the new Spandau Ballet’s Greatest Hits album, their film, Soulboys Of The Western World, and his own UK Orchestral Tour.
Tony Hadley is an English pop singer-songwriter, who rose to fame in the 1980’s as lead vocalist of the New Romantic band, Spandau Ballet. After the group disbanded in 1989, and after an acrimonious court case, the band reformed in 2009 to great acclaim.
A solo career has seen the release of a number of albums, his work as a radio presenter and his regular appearances on the Festival circuit. He is currently involved in his own project involving his beer, Gold, which he hopes will be available in outlets soon.
Following the release of Spandau’s film, Soulboys Of The Western World, which premieres at The Royal Albert Hall on 30th October, he is also preparing for his own ten date Orchestral Tour, which takes in Nottingham on 15th October.
Taking time out from his gruelling schedule, this is what he had to say to Kevin Cooper when he caught up with him.
Hi Tony how are you?
Yes I’m good mate, I’m very good thank you.
So how is life treating Tony Hadley?
It’s good, but to be honest life is mental. The new solo album is as near as damn it finished, but I have put that on hold because Spandau Ballet’s Greatest Hits is coming out with three new songs on it. I have been non-stop playing Festivals; I have just got back from Gibraltar where I did a show last night. I was in Oslo last week; I have been to the Philippines and Chile this year, and I am going to Hong Kong in a couple of weeks’ time, so as Tony Hadley life is as mental as it ever is, which is great. I am really lucky and I have played some really wonderful Festivals this year and I have had a great time. And then just purely by coincidence, we have got the Spandau Ballet film coming out on Friday 3rd October plus the Greatest Hits album so it’s a very busy time Kevin.
On the subject of Festivals, I saw you performing at last year’s Flashback Festival here in Nottinghamshire.
(Laughter) bloody Flashback Festival, where do they get these names from (laughter).
I don’t know if you knew or not but you almost caused a riot up there.
No I didn’t know that Kevin. Tell me more.
You committed the ultimate sin with your fans when you sang a Duran Duran song (laughter).
Oh God I did, yes I did (laughter). But the thing is Kevin that I am a real closet Durannie and I really do like their music (laughter). I have actually always been really fond of their music; it’s quite nice really. And they are a really nice bunch of lads too (laughter).
The Doctor (Dr & The Medics) was fighting the fans off with a big stick as they wanted to hang you from the nearest tree.
(Hysterical laughter) well it’s all good fun.
To be serious for a moment, you are about to embark upon a 10 date UK Orchestral Tour. Are you looking forward to that?
That’s right, I am doing an Orchestral Tour this year. I did a little bit of that last year and absolutely loved it so much that I thought that I would do a proper tour with a 50 piece Orchestra together with a band. So as you can see Kevin, it’s very busy at the moment (laughter). But I am lucky; I just think that I am incredibly lucky. Hey listen gigging is great and I love that.
Did it surprise you just how well the Orchestral concerts were received last year?
Yes, I suppose in a sense it did. I was very nervous about the whole thing, and as to just how would the die-hard fans react to some of the orchestrations and stuff. But the reviews were absolutely fantastic. I do think that when you go to see someone with an Orchestra, or even an Orchestra on its own, it is a bit of a special event. And when you have got that amount of musicians on the stage, it’s kind of sonically amazing, I think. And also from my point of view, as the singer on the stage, it feels fantastic. I think that we did the Spandau Ballet songs justice. I will tell you that the one Spandau song that I forgot to include last year was Instinction, so I have just had that orchestrated. One of the new songs that we have just recorded with Trevor Horn for the new greatest hits album, I’m also having that orchestrated too. So yes, it’s a bit of something different but its exciting stuff.
So am I to take it that touring really does still excite you?
(Laughter) listen Kevin if I’m not gigging pretty much every week then I’m Mr Grumpy. No I’m not really Mr Grumpy that’s the wrong word, but I love being onstage and I am lucky enough that my voice is still working. I think that it’s better now and has more control and a better range than what I had as a younger guy. I just really enjoy being onstage. Sometimes you are travelling all day to do a one and a half hour show, but that one and a half hours is worth all of the travelling and the grief that you go through with security checks and stuff, because you get to go onstage and do what you love. I will never take things for granted. It was always a schoolboy dream and I am still living that schoolboy dream. I still think ‘wow this is really special’.
You are playing here in Nottingham at The Royal Concert Hall on 15th October. You seem to spend a lot of time playing here, you must enjoy our fair city?
A big contingent of our crew, Kevin, who have been with us for donkeys years all come from the Nottingham area. One of my best mates son lives there and so yes, there is a connection with the city. We did a great swing concert in the Old Market Square a few years ago which was really good, really cool. It’s a nice place and a great city and I’m looking forward to that one; it’s going to be good.
Just looking at what’s coming up for you; you are playing Soho Square in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt later this year, how did that come about?
Oh God I am yes, sorry I had forgotten about that one (laughter). I do my Absolute Radio show on Saturday nights, and they said that they would really like me to go over and play in Sharm el Sheikh and do a gig in the town square. I’ve got a feeling that Kim Wilde is going as well and I hope that she does because she is a good laugh (laughter). I’ve been to Cairo before but I have never been to Sharm or anywhere down there on the coast, so I am looking forward to going there. Whether or not it will be a holiday I don’t know because it will be in school term time. It would have been nice to have taken the family down there but I have got a feeling that I am going to be in and out pretty quickly. But I’m sure that it will be lovely; it will be fantastic.
Will you do any scuba diving while you are there?
If I get the chance Kevin then I will because I really love diving. I love being in the sea so I will if I get a chance. Have you ever been?
I’m going over to Sharm in January for my birthday.
My brother’s been and he tells me that it is fantastic. If I can take the family then I will but you know what they are like about school these days.
I normally go to Luxor and just chill out but at the moment they are advising against Brits travelling there.
Oh really. Bloody hell, Sharm el Sheikh is alright though isn’t it?
Yes Sharm’s fine, that is why I have chosen there and not Luxor, everything is fine over there.
Oh Christ, bloody world (laughter). But I am really looking forward to that and it will be great, and then I’ve got Hong Kong in a couple of weeks as well. I had forgotten about that.
You’ve just mentioned your Absolute Radio show, is it as much fun to make as it is to listen to?
Do you know what, I just have a laugh and talk absolute rubbish. It’s really good fun and we all just have a bit of a giggle. It’s good and I enjoy it. The music we play is really diverse; one minute we are playing The Weather Girls and the next we are playing Guns ‘n’ Roses. I quite like the contrast actually, it’s pretty cool.
I have to ask you, how are things on the beer front, is everything still going well for you?
Everything is going really well Kevin and we are just going into bottling. We have just had a very successful run with a chain in London, Nicholson’s, which is going very well. It has just come out either first or second top beer in every pub which is also really good. We are just looking into another chain of pubs who want to take it, so it’s steady as she goes. I think that possibly we were a little too ambitious before but we are going to be a little more cautious this time. It does taste good though (laughter). It’s pretty much in the South at the moment but we are looking to expand so hopefully it will be in a pub near you soon (laughter).
When I spoke to you last time you were gearing yourself up to the premier of Soulboys Of The Western World at the North by NorthWest Festival in Austin, Texas. Have you been pleased by how the movie has been received?
The main premier of the film is actually going to be at The Royal Albert Hall in London on 30th September but obviously we have had premiers in other parts of the world and yes, I feel that it has been received quite well. People seem to be really interested in it, and it is not your typical rock documentary where you have a fast film of the stage going up (laughter). That’s just boring old nonsense so I think that it is a very honest film. I don’t like every aspect of it; there are certain parts where I thought ‘oh I’m not sure that I like that’ but we had to let it go otherwise it would have been sanitised and it would have been ‘oh I don’t like that shot of me, I think I look a bit jowly’ (laughter). So you have just got to let someone run with it really.
Tony, good luck with it all and thank you very much for your time.
Thanks mate and I will definitely see you in the orchestra pit in Nottingham.
Perhaps you could bring me a bottle of beer up with you?
Yes if we are bottling by that stage Kevin I will bring a couple of beers up, just for you.
7th October Regent Theatre Ipswich
8th October Bournemouth Pavilion
10th October Symphony Hall Birmingham
11th October Sage Gateshead
12th October The Lowry Salford
14th October Royal Concert Hall Glasgow
15th October Royal Concert Hall Nottingham
16th October Colston Hall Bristol
18th October Cliffs Pavilion Southend-on-Sea
19th October Theatre Royal Drury Lane London