Spandau Ballet, ‘I think it’s the best we’ve ever been’

Courtesy of Scarlet Page / Warner Music
Courtesy of Scarlet Page / Warner Music

In America, many might not be familiar with the new wave band, Spandau Ballet. However, in the United Kingdom, Spandau Ballet was one of the most successful music groups during the New Romantic era alongside Visage, Duran Duran, and Boy George. Spandau contributed so much to the pop culture movement in the UK with their music as well as their fashion sense.

Spandau Ballet finally reunited after a two-decade hiatus. Members Tony Hadley, Steve Norman, and John Keeble tried and failed to sue Gary Kemp for a share of royalties. And now that they are back together, FDRMX had the opportunity to speak with drummer John Keeble about the band’s Soul Boys of the Western World Tour.

After splitting up for twenty years, the reunion became somewhat of a game-changer. When asked about what the defining moment was that led to the decision to bringing the band back together, Keeble said, “I think it was many, many moments. We had a long time thinking about it. There was a moment in time I was working with Tony in the mid ‘90s, and we discussed Spandau a lot.” The band ended on fairly ugly terms. Keeble and Tony decided to give it go, but Keeble said, “I didn’t really see that much chance of success.” Speaking with Gary Kemp was the tipping point of the band’s reunion.

The band’s dynamic has not changed from before the break-up and after the reunion. “When we got back together, the dynamic was pretty much the same, and I think that’s the magic of it,” Keeble explained. He further added, “When we played together, it immediately sounded great. And it’s the way the people fit into the group, where you know… someone’s always funny, you know? It’s this kind of mentality. We may be older and wiser, but actually, the people fit into the same sort of niche – same place they were – and that’s why it sort of works.”

Many Spandau Ballet fans have been awaiting the reunion and tour. Keeble said he is excited about the idea of gaining more fans. He said, “The next generation after us listens to a lot of music. Then you have their parents who listen to us, and some who are interested in seeing what we’re all about.” While many bands have replacements throughout the years, Keeble was mostly excited to say, “it’s kind of unique” in that Spandau is one of the few bands comprised of all five original members.

The tour’s name comes from the upcoming documentary about the history of Spandau Ballet. Directed by George Hencken, Soul Boys of the Western World portrays the rise and fall of the ‘80s pop sensation. The documentary takes fans on a journey through Spandau’s success in the ‘80s, the bitter break-up that led to the hiatus, and the reformation in 2009. And while the documentary has been screened at film festivals, it has yet to be released in North America. You can view the trailer here. After the Reformation Tour in 2009, which Gary Kemp claimed as the band’s most successful tour, it was time to take action and hit the road country-to-country again.

There are many reasons for the band’s reunion. “When we’re together on stage, it’s special. We can’t replicate it. Playing songs, making some noise, and being on stage – they’re all good reasons for it. I think it’s the best we’ve ever been. Being a musician, it’s always exciting to be on stage,” explained Keeble. Now that the ‘80s heartthrobs are back together, one would wonder if they ever think about the bitter break-up. “Everyone’s got their take on it. It’s done. You know, you can’t change what’s been done. Of course, it’s in the past. So, now we’re enjoying the future. There was a bit of redemption in the end, and everyone’s really digging it and enjoying the ride now,” said the drummer.

After rescheduling their bulk of the tour to align with the documentary’s release in North America, fans in America are very much looking forward to the major event. Keeble expressed his anticipation of the North America leg of the tour: “I love New York. I love America. I spent a lot of time over your side, and there are places we’ve never played. We didn’t get across America the last time around. Now you know, we’re trying to rectify that. I think a lot of America’s perception of Spandau Ballet is on ‘True.’ It’s a huge record in America. But all we really wanna do is come over there and just play.”

Spandau Ballet’s USA & Canada shows are as follows: (Apr. 25) House of Blues in Chicago, IL; (Apr. 27) Massey Hall in Toronto, ONT; (Apr. 28) 9:30 Club in Washington, DC; (Apr. 30) House of Blues in Boston, MA; (May 1) Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ; (May 2) Beacon Theatre in NYC; and (May 3) Theatre at Westbury in Westbury, NY. Purchase your tickets on the band’s official website and relive the ‘80s!

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