23 November 2018 (gig)
03 November 2018
Spandau Ballet are back for a mini tour with three dates in Italy, two in Holland and one in London, primarily I presume to introduce their new singer Ross William Wild after the departure, definitively this time, of Tony Hadley.
Is there any point of a ‘new’ Spandau Ballet sans TH one might ask? In these days of reformation of classic (and non-classic) groups, having the principle members, if still alive and kicking, would seem to be a necessary requisite ideally. However, it does not seem to be the case most of the time.
Tonight, we are at the Fabrique, in Milan, for the first of these gigs where a pretty decent crowd is gathered including many lovely middle-aged ladies it has to be said. Spandau come on stage without RWW, playing an instrumental ‘Gold’ as a way to say hello really. Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, John Keeble and Steve Norman are all looking good, especially the smiling and enthusiastic SN who seems at least 10 years younger than his 58 years. There is the silent keyboard player on stage to,o as they have always had, accompanying their live performances.
As the band go into ‘Chant No.1’ on bounds RWW, much to the surprise of many in the crowd judging by their bewildered looks having presumably not done their homework and not knowing of TH’s absence. A young-looking version of Tony in many ways cannot be a coincidence me thinks but can he cut it on vocals? Its apparent that Ross is not really a rock’n’roller but more theatrically trained as a performer so he tends to project to the back of the room rather than confront the throng at the front. He easily hits all the notes but there is a certain lack of urgency and bite. For the first 4 or 5 tracks its all a bit wooden with even the band not really helping the lad as everyone sticks to their place. Obviously its not easy and finding their way as a group is what these live dates are all about. The sound system tonight is good however and the band are solid and tight.
Martin Kemp takes the mike and tries to gee up the still stunned crowd by introducing ‘Virgin’ as one of the three songs played at LiveAid in July 1985, and the interaction is enough to stir everyone up. Ross then takes to the mike to introduce himself and a mini set including a selection of early songs from the first album ‘Journey’s To Glory’ and gradually probably thanks to the throwback to ones youth and excitement these songs evoke, the vibe in the room changes such that the closer ‘To Cut a Long Story Short’ is a full blown success.
Gary then leads the band into ‘She Loved Like Diamond’, whilst Ross takes a costume change, doing a very nice rendition of the song in the style of ‘The La’s’ lets say. Gary has recently been touring as guitarist in Nick Mason’s new project ‘Saucerful Of Secrets’ playing all the early Pink Floyd songs, seemingly a big leap for him in such uncharted territories, with band and Floyd fans no mugs in terms of sound and execution of their precious songs on stage. Getting back to basics must be both relaxing and comfortable and indeed it shows.
Steve Norman then introduces the very fine song that is ‘Once More’ that he and Gary wrote in 2009 for the first re-union after the 90’s split, and though no new tracks were on display tonight, it would seem if this were to be a serious project, new, hopefully good, material with RWW on vox is essential.
‘I’ll Fly For You’, ‘Round and Round’ have the crowd singing along and when ‘True finally closes the set, all things considered, its gone well with grins on the bands faces, hugs and shared vocals on mikes evidence of harmony. ‘True’ it has to be said, is a most wonderful song, sampled by many and lives well beyond its iconic 80’s status. Ross probably does his best work on it too, finally letting go of his theatrical delivery and giving it heart and soul and some nice, different vocal melodies to boot.
Encores are ‘Through The Barricades’ and ‘Gold’, full band version this time. An appreciative band thanks the crowd for coming out tonight, and it feels if Spandau Ballet mark II has begun.
“I’m absolutely f…ing knackered “ says an emotional Martin Kemp as the band leave the stage, having passed the exam, with maybe honours coming with time.
Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)
Only When You Leave
How Many Lies?
This Is the Love
To Cut a Long Story Short
She Loved Like Diamond
I'll Fly for You
Round and Round
Through the Barricades