It's true! Spandau Ballet are back

The new romantic pioneers have re-formed, despite one of the most vicious feuds in pop. Mark Hughes reports

Monday 23 March 2009 01:00

It has long been rumoured but never confirmed – until now. More than 30 years after meeting in the music rooms of the Dame Alice Owen secondary school in north London, Spandau Ballet, pioneers of the new romantic movement, are to reform. It marks the end of one of the most bitter feuds in pop.

The band will officially announce the news aboard HMS Belfast in London on Wednesday when they will reveal plans to release new songs and details of a world tour, which is believed to include a date at FC Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium in Spain.

Lead singer Tony Hadley, 48, said: "The boys are back in town and we can't wait. It's going to be brilliant, we're very excited, but it will be very different. There will be all the hits, the nostalgia, but there will also be a new take on what Spandau Ballet are about."

The timing of their decision to reunite is particularly salient. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Spandau Ballet plotted the path of new romanticism – a movement that protested against the grey, drab fashion of the period, which was itself indicative of the low spirits caused by the recession of those times.

And the reunion is perhaps one of the more surprising in recent years – a period which has seen reformations of Take That, the Spice Girls and Blur. The band's split in 1989 was followed by a vicious court battle over royalties.

The legal action in 1999 focused on the group's songwriter Gary Kemp. He was sued by Hadley, drummer John Keeble and saxophonist Steve Norman who claimed they were entitled to money from royalties.

The three claimed that a verbal agreement, made in 1980, entitled them to an 8.3 per cent share of royalties from the band's catalogue of songs which included hit singles such as "Gold" and "True". Kemp said no such agreement existed and, at the High Court in 1999, Mr Justice Clark found in favour of Kemp.

In the meantime some of the band's members have carved out other careers. Martin Kemp, who had already tasted acting success alongside his brother Gary when they appeared as the gangsters Ronnie and Reggie in the 1990 film The Krays, enjoyed further acting roles. Most notably he appeared as the villain Steve Owen in the BBC soap EastEnders.

Hadley relaunched his career in 2003 after winning the reality television show Reborn In The USA. He was then asked to play the lead role of Billy Flynn in the West End musical Chicago, in 2007.

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But recently the music industry has been awash with rumours that the group were set to reform after it emerged that the band members who had fallen out so spectacularly in the courtroom were back on speaking terms. The rumours were fuelled by the group's website. The site is "under construction" and invites fans to sign up for a "forthcoming announcement".

The news of a tour will no doubt be greeted with joy by their fans, which include Mr Justice Clark. While hearing details of the royalties dispute, the judge was invited to listen to the music to help him decide if the three men had a case. He caused an outburst of laughter in the austere surroundings of the Royal Courts of Justice when he said: "I have certainly assimilated the style of the band, and with great pleasure."

Feud's corner: Bands yet to reform


Three decades and two inter-band divorces later, Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid say they will never again don their silver jumpsuits.

*The Jam

Bass player Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler sold out a "reunion" tour of the band in 10 days – even without the presence of Paul Weller. The Modfather has insisted that a reprise of the original three piece will simply "never happen".

*The Smiths

Over 20 years after they went their separate ways and despite many lucrative offers to reform, the animus between Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr has remained too strong although relations between the two have defrosted slightly.

*The Stone Roses

When the latest reformation rumour surfaced last week guitarist John Squire said: "I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses." Suppose that's a no then.

*The Libertines

Pete Doherty and Carl Barat had one of the most volatile and creative relationships in pop music. Barat's band Dirty Pretty Things called it a day last year but there is no sign of a return.

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