Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Tony Hadley Preview Metropolis [Tokyo] 2 Nov 2012

Tony Hadley

Spandau Ballet frontman traipses down memory lane

By: Stephen Taylor | 2 Nov 2012 | Issue: 972

The last time global hitmakers Spandau Ballet toured Japan, the group’s role as fashion leaders did not sit well with lead singer Tony Hadley. Arriving in Japan in 1985, he recalls the shock of encountering Tokyo’s infamous summer heat.

“Do you remember the Live Aid suit?” the 52-year-old asked Metropolis over the phone from his home in Buckinghamshire, England last month. “It was a double-hemmed leather suit,” he says. “I remember the humidity when we were there last time and it was bloody awful.”

Twenty-seven years on, humidity should not be a problem for Hadley when he plays shows in Tokyo and Osaka next week, and he is looking forward to finally returning to Japan.

“We had a great time there, the fans were pretty crazy. There was a real ‘teen scream’ thing going on, and Japan was just completely different from anywhere else,” he recalls.

For his first visit to Japan as a solo artist, Hadley will be showcasing some new numbers but, more to the point for middle-aged fans of Spandau Ballet who saw them back in the ’80s, he will be playing the old favorites.

“We’re going to do a couple of new songs and do all the hits that people know and, hopefully, still love,” he promises, adding that he’s not ready to mellow out too much just yet. “It’s a pretty raunchy set, actually. We’re not tippy-toed musicians—we play loud.”

Raunchy and loud are not words you would associate with the New Romantic movement that Spandau Ballet helped to launch in the early ’80s, until Hadley reels off an unexpected list of songwriting influences.

“I’ve always been a massive Queen fan. I think they’re fantastic writers. Tom Petty—super writer, Bruce Springsteen—great, love him. Darryl Hall and John Oates—brilliant, David Bowie—great, Roxy [Music], Kaiser Chiefs—brilliant, The Killers—brilliant, the late Robert Palmer—brilliant. If you’re into music, you listen to different types,” he says, adding that a cover of a song by New Jersey’s most famous son has made it onto his set list.

“We’ve covered ‘Girls in Their Summer Clothes,’ off the Magic album, by Bruce Springsteen. We’ve done it at a few festivals. I think, ‘I really wish I’d written that,’ but you do what you do and, hopefully, people will like it.”

One look at the Spandau Ballet discography quickly tells you that, with almost every song written by guitarist Gary Kemp, any thoughts Hadley may have had of penning the occasional tune remained on hold. But he is in no doubt about his musical priorities.

“I’ve always considered myself first a singer and, second, a songwriter. I get a big kick out of singing,” he explains. The Londoner is not averse to covering songs by one of his fellow travelers from the decade of shoulder pads and mullets.

“I did a cover of [Duran Duran’s] ‘Save a Prayer’ on an album a few years ago, and Simon Le Bon came and did some backing vocals. Some of the fans thought it was a bit strange, but I quite like it. I haven’t done that one [live] for a long, long time, but we do [Duran Duran’s] ‘Rio,’ which went down a storm at festivals.”

Whatever Hadley may say about his singer-songwriter priorities, his next album will be a landmark for him. “For the first time, we’re doing a completely original album, completely written or co-written by me, which sound like it’s a “me-me” album, but it’s not—I’ve got fantastic musicians around me.

“It’s pop-rock, but pop-rock with heavier guitars and some sequence sections. I’m a big fan of The Killers, who are obviously influenced by quite a lot by ’80s stuff. I quite like that hybrid of rocky sound with heavy synth style,” he says, adding that its release date has become something of a moveable feast.

“It should have been out about two years ago,” he laughs. “Hopefully, sometime next year, late spring I would imagine. The working title is Heroes and Lovers, which is a song that myself and Phil [Taylor], the keyboard player, have written. It’s a very different kind of song, and I thought, ‘That’s a great title for an album—Heroes and Lovers.’

As for Hadley’s other singing gig, Spandau Ballet’s Reformation Tour in 2009-10 was one of the more surprising of the recent spate of ’80s band reunions.

“It’s been well documented that we had a massive falling out and ended up in the High Court, all sorts of stuff,” he says, “so our relationship was, to say the least, pretty fragmented, if there was any relationship at all, and I did say at a certain time that I would never, ever tour with those guys again.”
“It took six months of soul searching before we finally sat down and had a pint together, and it was really [drummer] John Keeble who was instrumental in getting the band back together,” Hadley recalls. He jibes that the experience shored up much more than a few bank accounts.

“I suppose, in a lot of ways, and I think everybody said this, it was a release, to get rid of all that anger that we had between us, and that was a nice thing. Stuff happens and you think, ‘Life is too short,’ so we went from a position of hating each other to going back on an even keel again.”

Billboard Live, Nov 9-10

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


I had a photo pass for this show and got some good shots of the band.

There was a power failure at this gig, though the venue wasn't a bad place to watch live music. I wasn't really in the mood for Jonathan Richman though, so I headed back to Camden to see...

...Spizzenergi at the Purple Turtle near Mornington Crescent. Apart from hits like "Soldier, Soldier" and "Where's Captain Kirk?" I didn't know much of their music, but it was good to finally see Spizz.

I was very impressed by Lady Gaga, though I don't know if I'd have paid full price for this ticket. I got this from Universal Music Japan, which was very generous of them.

Kings Of Leon in Hyde Park didn't really do too much for me, though it was good to see Paul Weller, who played "Art School," the first track on the eponymous first Jam album.

Foals at the Electric Ballroom was a good show, though I still think the gigs I saw them do in Japan in 2008 were better.

I was surprised at how good The Black Eyed Peas were in concert. This was another freebie from Universal, as they were interested in one of their artists, support act Cheryl Cole. The concert felt like a musical in some ways, in that each member of Black Eyed Peas had their own singing spots, while other numbers were collective efforts.


This was the second time I saw the Bhundu Boys, at Newcastle University on 8 October 1987. I had seen them earlier that year in Oswestry, Shropshire and, though this did show didn't quite match that one, it was a good night all the same. 

This Stephane Grapelli show was in April 1989, and my friend and fellow English Studies student, Nick Collard, reviewed it for Monopoly, the student newspaper of Sunderland Polytechnic. As the music editor for the paper, I had asked him to write about the show, and a very good job of it he did.

I think this gig was in May 1990 and, in those days, Daintees shows were always something special.

I have a feeling that Cathal Coughlan supported The Fall at this show, though I may well be off the mark. I don't remember this being one of Mark E. Smith's best performances, but that's the nature of the band.


The Boo Radleys had their moment in the spotlight in 1995 when "Wake Up Boo!" was a hit single for them. The same year, the band played Wolverhampton Civic Hall and, I must admit, they didn't impress me much.

This Wilko Johnson show Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall on 20 December 1994 was up to his usual standard. As it was just before Christmas, it was also a great way to kick off the festive season with fellow gig-goers Trevor Sims and Chris Capper.

I first saw The Undertones at a free festival in Zuider Park, Rotterdam, in September 1980, so I jumped at the chance to see them at Birmingham Odeon the following year when a ticket became available.

Two days after The Undertones gig, I was back at the Odeon for The Teardrop Explodes. I don't know why, but this gig didn't match my expectations, though I remember that "Reward" and "Tiny Children" were very good. Julian Cope was fairly eccentric, though nowhere near like he was a few years later on his solo tours.

Towards the end of 1981, I saw Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark, or O.M.D. as they had now become, at the Odeon. They had a large teenage audience at this time and I remember feeling slightly aged, at the grand old age of 19!

I reviewed this Nanci Griffith show on 9 October 1995 for Rock 'n' Reel and was struck by the rather too civilised audience, some of whom were drinking tea in the interval.

This concert by Kirsty McColl on 19 May 1995 was a great memory, and all the more precious since her tragic death five years later.

Another singer who met an untimely end was Jeff Buckley. This gig in 1995 was fantastic, and I'm not just saying that because he died a couple of years later. The weather was appalling, with heavy snow delaying the train back to Shrewsbury after the show, but it was well worth the effort.

Dr Feelgood at Birmingham Odeon on 1 December 1980 was my first experience of seeing Lee Brilleaux, and I'll never forget his ill fitting suit and manic stare. A great show!


The Bodysnatchers were fronted by Rhoda Dakar and only released a couple of singles. I can't recall who the support was for this show.

The Look were a one-hit wonder who made the charts with a song called "I Am The Beat." From what I remember, the show was a pretty forgettable experience.

This was a gig in 1979, I think. The Tremors released a single on Redball Records called "Modern World" backed with "Smashed Reality," which got played by John Peel. I have a feeling that Dom Estos and the Stains were also on the bill.

This was a really good gig, by a band that should have had more recognition during the Britpop years, though Oasis have mentioned their influence on numerous occasions. Support band Clinton were regulars on the live music scene in Shrewsbury during the 1990s, though I don't remember much about them.

Membership card for the Jazz and Roots Club, held at The Buttermarket every Thursday, for 1995/96

As this ticket for The Beat at the Cascade was ripped in half as I walked in, I seem to remember that this took place in January 1980 and was one of the earliest shows by the band. 

Neon Hearts headlined this gig at the Cascade on 9 May, 1980. They were from Wolverhampton and didn't impress me much at all. The Stains, on the other hand, were a great band and, for me, remain the best Shrewsbury band I've ever seen. They released one single on Redball, called "Bored," backed by "Emotional Pills" and "I'm a Believer," the latter being a live favourite, though I always liked a number called "The Flash," which gloried in the lyrics, "If you want a body tingle/Go and mingle in the Dingle/Do the Flash."

Louis Gordon was (and still is, as far as I know) a singer/songwriter from Manchester who played some memorable shows in the early to mid-1990s. Towards the end of the decade, he worked with John Foxx on at least one of his albums.

Lew Lewis Reformer at the Cascade on 26 September 1979 was a solid dose of Rhythm 'n' Blues, and that's about all I remember about the gig.

Instastella at The Music Hall on 23 September 1995 were awful, from what I remember. They were from Manchester had a female lead singer, and that's about all I recall.

This was a festival that was held in Cleobury Mortimer, near Bishop's Castle, in 1996. I can't remember the lineup, though I have a feeling that Louis Gordon and/or They Went To Portugal were on the bill.

The Damned put on a great show, though there was a problem with the sound initially, prompting Rat Scabies to walk off stage. Supporting them were a band called The Anti-Nowhere League, who I thought were utter garbage. I think Fear Of Flying were a female-fronted group from Shrewsbury.

One of the leading mod bands during its brief revival in the late 1970s, Secret Affair released a couple of great singles before disappearing up their own pretentiousness. The band reformed a couple of years ago, though I don't know what they're up to now. Back To Zero were another mod band, though I can't remember any of their songs. The original support band, Squire, released a classic of its time though, "Walking Down The King's Road." 

Squeeze played in Shrewsbury in 1980 and must have been one of Jools Holland's last shows with the band, as he left the same year. I wasn't that impressed with Squeeze, especially as Wreckless Eric had played a fantastic set before them.

This was the first 'Big' gig I ever saw in Shrewsbury (not there have been many in the intervening 32 years), and came about because Elvis Costello had decided to play less fashionable towns and cities to publicise his new album, Get Happy, in 1980. The support band was Clive Langer and the Boxes.


The Libertines at Club Citta, Kawasaki, on 1 December 2004 was a great gig, though there was no Pete Doherty for this one.

The Police at Tokyo Dome on 14 February 2008 was a bit of a disappointment for me. I saw them back in 1980 and they were much better in those days, and even talked to each other on stage.

Spiritualized at the Liquid Room, Shinjuku, Tokyo, on 15 May, 1998, was an all night gig, with Spiritualized on stage at about 2 a.m. The tour was on the back of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Flying in Space, so "Electricity" was a particular memory.

The Foo Fighters can always be relied upon to put on a good show, and this one at Makuhari Messe, near Tokyo, on 13 April 2008 was no exception.

I had seen Franz Ferdinand at Fuji Rock Festival four months before this show at Kokusai Forum, Yurakucho, Tokyo, on 9 November 2009, and thought they were OK, but this was a really good gig, and the band had gone up in my estimation by the end of the night.

This was a curious event, as Jonathan Richman went on first, unexpectedly. It was held at the Hibiya Park Outdoor Theatre, Tokyo, on 26 August 2000, and featured The High Lows, The Neatbeats and The King Brothers as well.

Guest pass for The Kills and Blood Red Shoes at the Liquid Room, Tokyo, in 2008, I think. After the show, Hostess had a party with lots of free drink.

I won this Little Feat ticket in a competition on Peter Barakan's Inter FM radio show, Barakan Beat. The show was at the Yomiuri Hall, Yurakucho, Tokyo, on 10 December 1999, and was not really my cup of tea. I seem to remember that Kevin Parker and myself retired to the pub before the end.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


I saw one of the dates at Kokusai Forum, Tokyo. and it remains one of the best gigs I've ever seen.

As far as I know, this is the only time Springsteen has played in Japan in the last 20 years or so. Tickets for this tour went on sale shortly after I arrived in the country, in November 1996, so I wasn't able to see any of the shows.

This was a "Talk and Signing" event at HMV, Shibuya, Tokyo, which I attended. It was a curious event, with most of the questions pretty inane. However, in the lack of live shows from this threesome, it's the closest you'll get to seeing them in public.

I didn't get to see Suede on their tour of Japan in 1997, though they were very good, by all accounts.

This is a flyer for Richard Thompson's tour of Japan in 2001, with my ticket for the Shibuya Club Quattro show in Tokyo underneath. I went with Nick from The Fiddler pub, and it was a great show, perfectly recorded on my MD recorder.

Little Barrie have been popular in Japan for several years now. I met Lewis Wharton, who plays bass, in Footnik, Ebisu, Tokyo, after they'd played Summer Sonic in August 2005, and then interviewed all of them a year later. The flyer on the left is for their Japan Tour in December 2006, when I met up with them again. Since then, I've seen many times and they get better and better.

One of my great regrets is not seeing James Brown live. Apart from this tour in 2003, the Godfather of Soul visited Japan on a couple of other occasions, one of them as co-headliner with Chuck Berry!
I think this tour was in 2002, as I'd seen Patti Smith at Fuji Rock Festival the previous year for the first time, and was completely blown away by her performance. Seeing her at Akasaka Blitz, Tokyo, on this tour didn't disappoint either.
This is a brochure for The Rock Odyssey, held in Yokohama International Stadium on 24 and 25 July, 2004. I'm not sure which day I went to, but I think it was the first day. What I do remember is that it was The Who's first ever show in Japan yet, for some reason, Aerosmith ended the show. Paul Weller was also on the bill, while Love Psychedelico opened the show in fine style.

I couldn't get to this gig and, in fact, I have never seen Guitar Wolf live. I've met one of the band, though, in a tiny late night boozer in Shibuya called Tombstone.