News / Arts & Entertainment

After 28 Years, Spandau Ballet Returns to US

Spandau Ballet members Gary Kemp, John Keeble, Tony Hadley, Steve Norman and Martin Kemp, from left, pose for a photograph during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, March 13, 2014.
Spandau Ballet members Gary Kemp, John Keeble, Tony Hadley, Steve Norman and Martin Kemp, from left, pose for a photograph during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, March 13, 2014.
Katherine Cole
Eighties hitmakers Spandau Ballet created quite a buzz during the recent South By Southwest (SXSW) music and film conferences in Austin, Texas.

Spandau Ballet’s first hit “To Cut a Long Story Short” charted in 1980. Since then, they’ve sold more than 25 million albums and played concerts in huge arenas worldwide.

Their performance in Austin, Texas, marked the band’s first show on a U.S. stage in 28 years. It was also the first time in decades they played a venue with room for only 600 people.

Drummer John Keeble described the experience as “inspiring and fantastic.”  

“It’s the smallest gig we’ve done for many a year," he said. "There’s something very visceral about being in a small room with people right up close and personal. Probably one of my favorite gigs.”
 
After 28 Years, Spandau Ballet Returns to US
After 28 Years, Spandau Ballet Returns to USi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Singer Tony Hadley says playing in a small club means there are no secrets.

"There was no trickery. It was just the five guys plugged in," he said. "Gary had four little pedals and that was it. There was no hard disk behind us or anything like that. It was totally real.”​

Formed in the late 1970s in London, Spandau Ballet were leaders in rejecting the extravagant ugliness of the punk music scene, and played a leading role in the British New Wave movement called the New Romantics. They changed their look as often as their sound, getting funky with the hit “Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On).”

But it was when the band released a completely different sort of song, a dreamy synth-pop ballad, that the band had its biggest worldwide hit, “True.”
 
Spandau Ballet, left to right, John Keeble, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp © 1981 Lynn Goldsmith
Spandau Ballet, left to right, John Keeble, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp © 1981 Lynn Goldsmith


Bass player Martin Kemp says Spandau Ballet’s show in Austin left the band excited about the prospect of returning to the U.S. for a full tour.

“You know, we’ve played those songs a million times for people in Europe and know what those songs mean to people when you play them," he said. "Here, we thought maybe the only song that everyone’s going to know is 'True.' But it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was into the band from the beginning. I thought it was a really special moment. I agree with John, I actually think it was one of my favorite gigs we’ve ever done.”

So why did it take 28 years for Spandau Ballet to return to the United States? Two reasons: First, the band’s 1985 tour was cut short after saxophonist Steve Norman injured his knee in Los Angeles, California. Then, at the end of the 1980s, the band split up in a bitter fight over royalties.

“Listen, we found it hard enough to come back to each other, that took us nearly 20 years, let alone come back to America," said Gary Kemp, the band’s lead songwriter.  "So, it’s not like we’ve been ignoring America for 28 years. We were ignoring ourselves for 20 of those years.”
    
Spandau Ballet’s breakup is covered in the film “Soul Boys of The Western World,” which had its debut at the SXSW conference.

Steve Norman admits it was hard to watch the documentary in front of an audience.

“There’s a lot of anguish in there, you can see it," he said. "We were so close, we went to school together. And then to see how it all fell apart. It’s very emotional. And the other day, because there were people there, it became much more emotional. I had tears in my eyes once or twice.” 
 

Spandau Ballet reunited in 2009 for a 30th anniversary tour and, true to form, showed off a new sound with “Once More,” an unplugged, acoustic album. 

Their next world tour is scheduled to start either later this year, or early in 2015.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dan from: Austin TX
April 09, 2014 12:13 PM
I was at the concert during SXSW. Incredible show. It had lots of energy and was a in a great venue. I had no idea that they had not played the states in 28 years. That made the concert that much more special.
In Response

by: Katherine Cole from: Washington, DC
April 10, 2014 10:49 AM
Ah, you're the envy of many people around the globe. That was a very special show! I hope you'll stick around and check out our music programs!

by: Eduardo Olvera from: Mexico
April 07, 2014 11:33 PM
Great band, great songs I remember 70‘s and 80‘s, long nights dancing with a old friends thanks for all songs
In Response

by: Katherine Cole from: Washington, DC
April 08, 2014 9:06 AM
Hi Eduardo! Glad you enjoyed the story. It was a fun interview.
KC

by: John FH from: Cambridge, MA
April 04, 2014 5:45 PM
Loved this piece...so great to hear a 'feel-good' story from a band from that era. I am truly looking forward to seeing the documentary. Thanks for reminding me of this excellent music!
In Response

by: Katherine Cole from: Washington, DC
April 08, 2014 9:03 AM
Thanks for your comment---glad you enjoyed the story. No word on a US release for the film, but keep checking back!

by: HeatherV from: Los Angeles
April 03, 2014 10:37 PM
Great piece! Brought me back to high school days: Duran Duran, Culture Club, Simply Red...plus the soundtrack from Breakfast Club. 80s music unfairly gets a bad rap. Mark my words, even parachute pants will make a comeback! Thanks for the memory, Katharine!
In Response

by: Katherine Cole from: Washington, DC
April 04, 2014 10:51 AM
Thanks Heather! Speaking of 80s fashion, did you check out the trailer for Soul Boys of the Western World??? If not, clink on the link above.

by: Tricia
April 02, 2014 5:06 PM
I still love those boys like it's 1985! Can't wait for the film to be released! And-- they're finally going to tour the US! Road trip, ladies! Katherine Cole, you're a lucky girl, good job.
In Response

by: Katherine Cole from: DC
April 03, 2014 11:58 AM
Thanks Tricia. Very fun interview--hope you get a chance to see the tour! BTW, we've got lots of music programs on VOA--you can find the archive of my past shows and all the others here: http://www.voanews.com/archive/roots-branches/20140303/672/1461.html

by: MissTrish from: Austin, TX
April 02, 2014 4:38 PM
Thank you for this lovely piece on one of my very favorite bands! Spandau Ballet was the absolute highlight of my SXSW this year. I was lucky enough to attend Soul Boys of the Western World as well be in the front row during their set at the Vulcan Gas Company and at the Paramount during their song (Satellite of Love) at the Lou Reed Tribute Show. There's a lot of love for them in the US of A and I'm so pleased to hear that a tour is being discussed.
In Response

by: Katherine Cole from: Washington DC
April 03, 2014 12:00 PM
Lucky you! Thanks for stopping by--hope you'll check out some of my other programs here (and all our other music shows, too!)
KC

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”