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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."