INTERVIEW: Tony Hadley brings Spandau Ballet classics to the North East

Lytham Proms 2013 Eighties Night.  Tony Hadley.
Lytham Proms 2013 Eighties Night. Tony Hadley.
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Top crooner Tony Hadley will be performing some of Spandau Ballet’s most famous hits – with a twist.

The frontman has announced he will head to the North East next month as part of a tour which will see his famously powerful voice complemented on stage by the Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra.

During their time as pioneers of the ’80s New Romantic movement, Spandau Ballet rocketed to fame with tracks including Gold, True and Through the Barricades, many of which will feature on this tour.

“I’ve worked with orchestras before in Europe with the late James Brown, Joe Cocker and Alice Cooper, all kinds of different people,” he explained. “My manager suggested orchestrating Spandau Ballet’s hits and I thought it was a great idea.

“We’ve picked the greatest hits, plus tracks such as Musclebound, a track I never thought I’d sing again, which appeared on the first album, and Toys, another album track.

“I wasn’t sure how these tracks would sound but once we orchestrated them, they sound amazing. They made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“And hearing tracks like Gold and Through The Barricades with these luscious strings is amazing.”

He added: “I did a show like this at the Royal Albert Hall last year and it worked so well that we decided to take it on tour. It’s actually my first theatre tour in years.

“I have the ten-piece brass section, the Tony Hadley band with me, and then this 40-piece orchestra, which makes it a very special event.

“How many times have people heard True on their radios? While we’ve stayed true to the song’s melodies and overall structures, this allows you to hear it in a more subtle way, the nuances of the orchestra means there’s no restricti-
ons.”

The tour comes at a busy time for Tony, with the release of Spandau Ballet movie Soul Boys of the Western World, a Spandau Ballet Greatest Hits with three new tracks produced by Trevor Horn, as well as Tony’s solo recordings.

With a wealth of top tracks under his belt, Tony says one song still stands out for him.

“I think Through The Barricades is the best song we’ve ever done. Gary (Kemp) did a brilliant job. For a singer, it’s got everything, it tells a story but it has its soft bits and its anthemic bit and when the drums kick in it’s amazing,” he said.

Though the band’s music has become ingrained in pop culture, Tony says attitudes to music have shifted over the years.

“I’m not a nostalgic person. I live in the moment and don’t sit there listening to old stuff and watching old videos, but I think in the ’80s, it was a much simpler time,” he said.

“You had three TV channels, music and fashion. Now you have this massive social media thing with the internet and you can play war games with people in Canada. Technically, we’re so far advanced now.

“The ’80s was the last decade when fashion and music went hand in hand. It was a very visual decade, a decade of MTV and VH1 and TV embraced music. We don’t even have things like Top of the Pops anymore. We have Later with Jools Holland, but it’s on so late these days.

“We used to go up to the North East and play the local TV station, people wanted to be part of the musical change and it wasn’t just kids.  

“Mums and Dads would know who we were because we were beamed into their homes at tea time. It’s different now. I keep up with modern music, but when I play festivals I have to google the acts to see their faces because TV doesn’t embrace music like it used to.”

You’d think with more than three decades in the business to look back on, Tony would be hard pushed to choose a favourite moment, but he doesn’t hesitate to pick out his highlight

“Live Aid, that was a special moment for anyone who was part of it. It changed the way we think about charity and gave birth to modern charity. It went too quickly, but I have plenty of videos of it.”

Tony Hadley and Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra play Sage Gateshead on October 11. Tickets are available from gigsandtours.com, ticketmaster.co.uk or Tel. 0844 811 0051 or 0844 826 2826.