Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys Of The Western World Tour
Perth Arena, Friday May 22, 2015.
When my colleagues and I learned that 1980s New Romantic favourites Spandau Ballet were returning to Perth for the last stop on their latest world tour, we couldn’t resist. Tickets were purchased, and as the day approached, we became more and more excited.
Several questions sprung to mind on the night, though. Would Tony Hadley still have that amazing voice? Would a band like Spandau Ballet be able to fill a venue like Perth Arena 25 years after they split? And how would their music translate into stadium rock? In order of asking, here are the answers: Absolutely yes, surprisingly yes, and brilliantly!
The band strode out onto stage, and as Hadley began to belt out their new song, “Soul Boy”, I knew I had definitely made the right decision in coming. The man hasn’t lost a step, though he did get a bit sweaty. From “Soul Boy” the band proceeded non-stop into classics “Highly Strung” and “Only When You Leave”, which had the mostly middle-aged audience on their feet, dancing and clapping.
For the next two hours the band barely stopped. They debuted a couple of new tracks (“This is the Love”, and “Steal”), with Hadley proclaiming they’ve been “busy boys” in the past few years since their last tour. They followed this with a medley of their earlier hits set against a backdrop of footage from early gigs at London’s “the Blitz” club. This was a straight-up all-about-the-music experience – as PerthNow’s Lisa Quartermain put it, “No support act, no fancy sets, no costume changes, no break. No worries.” Through song after song, Hadley hit the high notes as though the last 25 years never happened. Gary Kemp’s guitar solos brought an unexpectedly “stadium” feel to music which is ordinarily pretty chilled. Steve Norman’s signature sax (and congas) rang out silkily across the arena, and when he hit the first note of the solo in “True”, the crowd went absolutely berserk. John Keeble on drums never appeared to tire, though he raised the ire of a great portion of the crowd by hanging an Arsenal scarf from his cymbals towards the end. But hell, I don’t think anything short of their becoming Nazis could have turned the crowd off the band by their final songs.
It was absolutely clear the band were enjoying themselves, and loving the crowd. At one point, Hadley and Gary Kemp moved to a small stage in the audience and performed a thoughtful acoustic rendition of “Empty Spaces” before teasing the audience with a little singalong of “Gold”. I swear that half the women in the ‘lounge’ section probably fainted as the duo made their way back to the stage through the audience. But these guys were loving it. Throughout, every member on stage was just beaming; to see that performers are enjoying themselves really helps the vibe of a good concert become even more infectious.
From start to end, the band excelled themselves. The final song, “Gold” was absolutely milked, with Hadley asking the crowd before the drop into the first chorus, “ARE YOU READY PERTH?!” And boy, were we. 12,000 voices in unison, and I’m sure all hitting the high notes too, smashing out Spandau Ballet’s most famous song. One standing ovation later and the band thanked us all profusely for giving them a reason to keep going, and closed the show with a selfie. Certainly a different scene from 1985!
I went in expecting the show to be decent, but it absolutely surpassed even the highest hopes I had. I would absolutely go see Spandau Ballet again, and I strongly recommend you familiarise yourself with their back catalogue and go see them too. Their latest best of, The Story, is a great place to start.
PS: I discovered a website called setlist.fm where you can find the setlists for concerts from anywhere in the world. Brilliant idea, hey? You can find the one for Spandau Ballet’s Perth Arena concert here.
For other things I’ve written about music, click here.