Spandau Ballet Live Review

Spandau Ballet, O2 Arena, London – October 20th

“What you been doing for the last 20 years?” a beaming Tony Hadley asked the eager crowd three songs into Spandau Ballet’s two-hour set. Getting older would be the truthful reply, also an answer that applies to the five members of Spandau, quabbles now put aside, patched up and standing before us. Of all the 80s comebacks, Spandau Ballet’s always seemed the most unlikely. Last night however they put on a show that turned back time, the band tight and Tony Hadley producing emphatically clear and true vocals that enabled the audience to settle comfortably back into the early 80s…

Prior to the band taking the stage, the big screen behind their minimal set flashed up youthful-looking images of the fivesome, all sparkly teeth, flouncy blouses and hair flicks. Today’s versions didn’t scrub up too badly under the glaring stage lights, with the Kemp brothers and sax player Steve Norman still lithe and lean, drummer Jon Keeble dressing down as the group’s geezer and Tony Hadley looking like a fat gangster squeezed into Reggie Kray’s old suit. But when he sang, my oh my – such power and precision, with virtually every song note-perfect.

Standing in the audience, I realised that I knew more Spandau Ballet songs than I thought. The lyrics to Highly Strung, Only When You Leave, Communication and I’ll Fly For You were still lodged in some nether part of my brain, while opener To Cut A Long Story Short and Through The Barricades burst from the stage. However, there were also some plodding fillers to pad out the set (where was Code Of Love?) as well as the obligatory new songs which prompted a mass toilet rush. For the most part the band were happy to stick to their areas of the stage, with Steve saxing it up throughout and Tony rushing left and right, wiping the sweat from his brow. They wrapped up the show with the holy trinity of Chant No.1, True and encored with Gold, leaving the crowd in raptures and the band saying how good it was to be home.

As much as this was an enjoyable evening though, Spandau Ballet are no Take That, who have youth, looks and Gary Barlow on their side. Even though Martin Kemp still enjoyed much whooping from the crowd, the Spands are still too much from pop’s yesteryear to take on today. They should enjoy their moment in the sun and expect no more. Tonight they were indestructable, but that might not dictate the future…

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