Spandau Ballet - To cut a long story short...
Amazing what beer can do. Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet describes how the rifts were healed and the band got ready to tour again
Friday 27 March 2009
The idea of us getting back together had been put forward several times over the years, for one reason or another. I did an interview with Shane Richie on Virgin Radio in 2007. He's a massive fan of Spandau Ballet and said: "Come on, when are you getting the band back together?" I said: "Oh, the 30th anniversary" – and the next thing I knew it was on the news, it even reached Australia, and all these people were calling me.
I had just said it to shut Shane up. My manager said: "How do you feel about it?" and I said I'd have to think about it. I'd been performing solo and John Keeble had been drumming with me for nearly 20 years. I just had to sit and think: "Could this work?" Obviously there had been a great deal of animosity between us and we hadn't spoken since the court case [over royalties]. It was a case of: "Can we get back on a friendly footing?"
There were certain criteria on which we'd get back together: I couldn't get on stage with people I wasn't on good terms with, and I couldn't go on tour where we would be travelling in separate planes and limos. Some bands do that, but I've not got that personality. It would have to be because, first and foremost, we love music, and second, the camaraderie. We've got to remember what it was like when we were 16 years old. The tour was never going to happen unless we realised there was still a friendship there.
The rest of the band weren't 100 per cent sure I was serious about it. I remember speaking to Martin [Kemp], saying: "I want to do this, really, let's get together." Our first meeting was a bit spooky. I think everyone was a little apprehensive – when you haven't seen someone for such a long time it can be tricky.
Probably the hardest meeting was between myself and Gary [Kemp], but once we'd said everything we needed to say, we drew the line. Time is a great healer. We all met up at the pub and all the old jokes came out, and all the old stories. We had a few pints together and actually got on extremely well. It was almost like the 20 years hadn't gone past at all. We realised what a great force the five of us were. It was obvious we realised we get on pretty good.
It takes time, but once you've got over the "Hello, how are you" part, you realise the reasons you formed the friendship in the first place, when we were kids at school. It's amazing what beer can do. It's been nice to bury the hatchet, but not in each other's heads.
Things are good. Bridges had to be built for the tour to happen – there's been a bit of soul-searching and acceptance that things that happened in the past are unfortunate. When "True" was No 1 and the band were catapulted into world stardom, I was 23. Martin was 22. My eldest son is 25 now. I think: "God, we had a No 1 and charted in 20 countries round the world at that age, it's amazing we handled it as well as we did!" We're all 49 or 50 now.
I'm not big on nostalgia. I don't keep archives. That was a good period, it was fantastic, but I move on. I'm always forward-looking. I hate to hear people say the best days were at school. No, they weren't! The best days are today.
We've had one rehearsal and we played better than we've ever played. For me, I've been playing constantly as a solo performing artist, so to get us in a room after all these years was great. It sounded a million dollars. We ended up going through 19 songs. This is the tour we should have done 25 years ago. It's five guys having a lot of fun onstage.
We looked back at all the footage and saw which arrangements worked best – we've taken the best parts of the last 30 years. It's really exciting. Obviously it wasn't the best-kept secret in the world. It will be nice to get the five of us on stage again. I just want to play a gig. I'm bored rehearsing now.
Everyone's says it's brilliant that we're getting back together. Whether you were into the band's music or not (and even though our image was a little bizarre at times), everyone said that we defined an era, a specific period of music and fashion. The radio stations still play our songs today and so I have kids coming along to my gigs now who know the words to "Gold", "True" and "Through the Barricades". The band has stood the test of time.
For tour dates, see spandauballet.com
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