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Spandau Ballet - Adelaide Concert
Spandau Ballet are back and in concert they are better than ever. How is this linked with horses? well singer Tony Hadley was riding a black horse that after a few scenes morphed into a clyde or clyde x and back again in the very odd film clip to the song from their early albums called Musclebound. And that's good enough to write up a review of the Adelaide concert on April 19th at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
Back in 1985 the band previously toured Australia but many including myself don't remember the concert tour but do remember the wonderful albums Parade and True - probably as from memory they didn't go to Canberra but not many overseas artists did back then. These days 14-16yos travel to Sydney from everywhere for the latest teen sensation but 25 years ago if the band or performer didn't come to your town then tough wait til next time. It was also a time when if music wasn't included on the playlist of the local radio or the clip appear on one of the rare music shows then you'd never know it was out there. Through the Barricades never even got a mere mention in Canberra so I for one never knew of that song or others on the album of the same name. The band split up to do solo projects in 1990 and that was the end for all of the fans or so it seemed.
Fast forward 20 years and with great fanfare in the UK Spandau Ballet announced they were over their differences and were to get together again to tour (and also ended up recording the new album 'Once More' of reworked older songs and two brand new ones including the title track) - though first many of us heard in Australia was when the tour dates here were announced in January. After seeing Duran Duran in concert about 12 months ago and after finding that their performance was pretty good but for a slow 'techno' group of songs in the middle hoped that Spandau Ballet could at least be as good. As good?? try ten times better and then some but then I was always the Spandau Ballet fan ahead of Duran Duran.
First up on the night was Jack Jones, sadly many in the audience chatted away as the former frontman for Southern Sons did an acoustic set including the two hits Always and Ever and Heart in Danger. The long hair may be gone but his voice is still fantastic and so quickly the blast from the early 90s was over. Jack Jones later came out into the auditorium where a few keen fans came up for a chat and photos for which he was happy to oblige. Tears for Fears was the big name support act and their set of 10 songs had all their hits including Mad World, Head over Heels and the finale of Shout. While not really a fan back in the 80s didn't mind them and they put on a great show including a pointer to check out the literal version of the film clip for Head over Heels. Kurt Smith reckoned he even wrote the filmclip and it still didn't make much sense but was impressed how much the bloke who did the cover sounded like him (look it up its very good).
Then there was the brief gap to the stars of the night Spandau Ballet. The big screen was used to great effect with a montage leading into the first song To Cut a Long Story Short. Might have been over 20 years but wow these guys were straight back into it and it was like going back in time. Tony Hadley's voice is as good as ever and the rest of the band Gray Kemp on guitar, Martin Kemp on bass guitar, John Keeble on drums and Steve Norman on saxophone, acoustic guitar, percussion and any other instrument in existance absolutely nailed it in producing the best performance you could ask for in concert. Only knowing two albums meant that several songs I didn't recognise or in the case of Lifeline, With the Pride, etc hadn't heard for about 20 years but hearing them in concert I made sure I found them again and added a few more to the favourites list. On eof their very best songs Round and Round not only featured Spandau Ballet putting on yet another brilliant performance but on the big screen they showed footage that had been collected back in the early days of the band on the super 8 camera of Martin Kemp. Was hard to decide - do you look at the band or do you look at the screen and pretty much the screen won out for those of us who remember them back when they were so young (as were we). The new song Once More was introduced and you couldn't help but think it is right up there with their older hits.
Then the performance slowed down with just Tony Hadley singing and Gary Kemp on guitar for a song which had the audience mesmerised before the rest of the band returned for the stirring Through the Barricades. Then it was more hits Communication, Lifeline and True then back for the encore of a rousing rendition of Fight for Ourselves and their biggest hit in Australia - Gold. Each band member took a turn in talking to the audience which was another highlight as everyone has a different favourite and like Jon Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams the years have treated them well with all looking fit and well (same couldn't really be said last year for all the members of Duran Duran).
Its always a little sad to get to the end of great concerts but after two hours around 20 of their best and most well known songs Spandau Ballet acknowledged the standing ovation from the filled Entertainment Centre stadium and departed. Hopefully the rumours are true that later this year the band plans to get back to recording new material and perhaps after that they will be back again - as long as its not another 25 years!!
For those who want to be reminded of the show or those who are wondering what all the fuss is about the Reformation Tour - Live at the O2 DVD is available and is one of the best concert videos I've seen the sound, like the Adelaide concert, is fantastic no flat notes or dodgy numbers anywhere - live they are as good or better than the studio album recordings. The official Spandau Ballet website is www.spandauballet.com
Below are a selection of photos taken by Leonie Brown at one of the other concerts on the tour and appears the band continued on in fine form after Adelaide.