Tony Hadley performs the hits of Spandau Ballet with The Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra at The Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham on Wednesday 15th October 2014.




Images and Review by: Kevin Cooper

Music has a tremendous ability to take you back in time, and sitting in a packed Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham, listening to Tony Hadley launch into a number of Spandau Ballet hits, I was back in the 80’s, behind the wheel of my first car, a Ford Capri, with the cassette player on too loud.

Having had one of the most distinctive voices of that time, it was interesting to see if he still had it and believe me there is no doubt that he is still a powerhouse performer. His close friend Peter Cox of Go West affectionately refers to him as the ‘Big Shouty Bloke’ which says it all really. Throw in an orchestra, a brass section and a band and the Spandau Ballet frontman struck pure gold.

Entering the stage promptly at 7.30pm, the Orchestra and band were given a polite welcome but as soon as Tony Hadley took to the stage in his trademark dark suit but with the addition of a loose bow tie around his neck, the audience went wild.

He began by telling the audience that this would be a performance of two halves, the first being a mix of his favourite songs and new material, whilst the second would be devoted to Spandau songs.

I could not fault his taste with his chosen numbers; In A New York Minute, Bowie’s Life On Mars, Somebody Told Me by The Killers and Time In A Bottle were all well selected, together with a couple of new tracks of his soon to be released album, which included Heroes and Lovers, The Dice and Remember Me, which was in fact quite lovely. He bravely finished this part of his set with Bridge Over Troubled Water and I say bravely because having heard Simon and Garfunkel sing this at a concert in Hyde Park many moons ago, it is a brave man who tries to cover it. Tony Hadley almost managed to pull it off.

It was clear from the audience’s reaction as the Orchestra took to the stage for the second part that it was the Spandau numbers that they had come to hear. The whole atmosphere became more lively and animated, as Hadley walked out onto the stage, looking as though he would not be out of place in The Rat Pack.

Starting off with To Cut A Long Story Short, Hadley went through a back catalogue of Spandau hits spanning more than thirty years, with The Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra providing an impressive twist to the tracks. The hits just followed; Only When You Leave, I’ll Fly For You, Toys, Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) and Lifeline were all given the Orchestras star treatment.

A special mention must be made of tonight’s version of Musclebound, which had the Orchestra turning what was a Spandau stomp song into something quite beautiful with the melodic violins, and Hadley’s personal favourite, Through The Barricades was actually quite stunning.

We were treated to a new song, Soul Boys, from Spandau’s forthcoming Greatest Hits album, which could have been written for a James Bond film, whilst Hadley encouraged a mass sing a long when he delivered True; the song that probably brought back lovely memories to this audience as they remembered what they were doing when it was originally released.

A rousing rendition of Fight For Ourselves ended the main set before Hadley returned for an encore of Gold.

It has been a very busy time for Tony Hadley recently; with Spandau Ballet being properly back together, a recent red carpet event of the Premier of Soul Boys Of The Western World, the terrific documentary film about the band, a gig at The Royal Albert Hall with his mates, and to be honest, you haven’t been able to switch on the TV without seeing Spandau Ballet promoting their movie and their new hits anthology.

Coupled with all of this, Spandau have announced a major tour of the UK next year, and with that in prospect, this gig was a chance to see if Tony Hadley still had what it takes. On tonight’s showing there is no doubt that the man can still sing. His singing career may have started in the 70’s, but Hadley is still very much on fine form.

It would not have surprised me if most of this audience left immediately to join the queue to purchase their Spandau tickets.