Despite the cornucopia of songs in our memory’s playlist such as Spandau Ballet’s “True," the song's “ha-ha-ha-ha-hi" intro must be engraved in everyone’s mind like the memory of a first kiss. Whether you call it cheesy or a masterpiece of songwriting, Spandau Ballet made an indelible mark on the music and fashion style of the New Wave ‘80s. And after nearly a 30-year hiatus, Spandau Ballet is back. On Jan. 25, the band took the stage at The Wiltern—the crowd buzzing with excitement, eager to reacquaint themselves with their former British flame.
The nostalgic marathon of songs began with favorites such as “Highly Strung” and “Only When You Leave.” The crowd was made up of former ‘80s club kids, now beer-bellied and slightly balding, but still looking pretty hot. Lead singer Tom Hadley had his characteristic hand gestures in fine form, showing that he’s still got it even after all this time. Hadley’s pitch perfect vocals in conjunction with the band’s tight musicianship proved that the “washed-up rock star” trope didn’t apply here. With 23 singles to their name, Spandau Ballet easily blew through a two hour set.
Hadley sang their newest single, “This is the Love”—which appears on their October 2014 release, The Story - The Very Best of Spandau Ballet—like a love song to his fans. Accompanying the knee-buckling ballad was an amorous backdrop provided by smooth saxophonist, Steve Norman. Dressed to impress, the band wore their sharpest suits, vests and ties for “I’ll Fly For You” and the beloved “True,” serenading the crowd of couples who spontaneously squeezed each other just a little bit tighter.
Yet Spandau Ballet proved they were more than just love songs when they went back to their London club roots, spilling out favorites such as “To Cut A Long Story Short” and “Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On).”
Notable was Norman who hopped from saxophone to guitar to percussion drums and tambourine, all the while taking the time to occasionally touch the hands in the front row. The band that used to sell out multiple dates at the UK’s enormous Wembley Arena appeared to be truly surprised and humbled by their devoted fans.
Unlike many of today’s reunions, Spandau Ballet have gathered five original members for their “Soul Boys of the Western World” tour. With a soon-to-be released movie of the same name, the story documents the band’s meteoric rise and eventual fall. After being screened at last year’s SXSW Festival, reviews were favorable and promised an eye-opening roller coaster ride back to the colorful, decadent ‘80s.
Although the grays have filled their temples, the handsome boys of Spandau Ballet have kept up their musical prowess. Missing from their performance were the flippant, feathered hairstyles and over-the-top outfits of the ‘80s, yet also absent were their former inflated egos. Now, with a more mature look and carefully crafted dance moves, Hadley raised a glass in a toast to their fans for their undying support.