Just before his band's encore at London's Royal Albert Hall on September 30th, singer Tony Hadley of New Romantic survivors Spandau Ballet told a story about seeing his vocal hero, Frank Sinatra, at this opulent Victorian theater in the late Seventies and actually meeting the Chairman of the Board backstage.
"What do you do, son?" Sinatra asked Hadley. "I'm a singer in a band, and someday I am going to play here," the younger man replied. He did – six years later, when Spandau Ballet's tiptoe-R&B ballad "True" was Number One in Britain and a lot of other countries.
The group – Hadley, guitarist-saxophonist Steve Norman, drummer John Keeble, songwriter-guitarist Gary Kemp, and bassist Martin Kemp, Gary's younger brother.
Spandau Ballet made their live New York debut: in May, 1981 at a club called the Underground. The venue was new but less than romantic – a midtown basement. But the group worked the small stage like a catwalk with a small, potent set list drawn from their first album, Journeys to Glory, and much closer in its crisp tension and funk momentum to the Chic-meets-Sex Pistols ideal of hairspray brethren Duran Duran.
Spandau Ballet were destined for more than the dole, as Hadley reiterated in the shiny 1983 gallop "Gold" ("You're indestructible/Always believing/You are gold")
Their breakup in 1990 – a combined product of exhaustion, mounting tensions over Gary's control of the writing and the Kemps' defection to acting. Even after Hadley, Keeble and Norman sued Gary in the Nineties for royalties and lost, it was Gary who largely initiated the 2009 reunion.
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