Spandau Ballet – O2 Arena

(This video comes from the previous night)

Why this gig?

Because when Spandau Ballet were huge I never got to see them. And there probably won’t be very many more chances.

Support

Support was from “DJ Rusty Egan”, who was (I suppose) the Rusty Egan who was a member of Midge Ure and Glen Matlock’s band Rich Kids and who later went on to join Visage. I don’t usually enjoy DJ sets as support acts, but Egan did, at least, play music that I knew. It was a pretty good selection of electronic dance music from the early 1980s. And, as a bonus, in many cases he seemed to be playing extended 12″ mixes of the style that were all the rage back then. I wonder how many times he has played them since the Blitz closed.

Headline

Spandau Ballet open with a new song. It’s called “Soul Boy” and was presumably been written to promote their film Soul Boys of the Western World which was released last year (this tour has the same title). Frankly, when you’re an 80s band on a reunion tour, no-one wants to hear news songs – so this is a brave choice and gets us off on a slightly dodgy start. But that’s soon forgiven as they start playing the hits that people want to hear – starting with “Highly Strung” and “Only When You Leave”.

Spandau Ballet are one of those bands who had more hit singles than you thought they did. “Round and Round” is, for example, a title that I didn’t recognise a all. But once they played it, of course I remembered it (it’s the one that goes “You’re just my fantasy and I will fantasise”). But the fact that I don’t remember the songs indicates a bit of a problem. Although they had a lot of hits, many of them are pretty much indistinguishable. “I’ll Fly For You”, “Instinction”, “I’ll Fly For You”, “Communication” – they all start to sound a bit samey after a while.

There are a couple more new songs and the rather dodgy single “Once More” from their last reunion, five years ago. But most of the material is, at least, stuff I know. One sequence in particular stands out – “To Cut A Long Story Short” is followed by a medley of songs from their first album, Journeys to Glory, while footage from the era is projected on the back drop. The sequence ends with “I Don’t Need This Pressure On” and a freeze-frame of Steve Strange who died recently.

The set ends with “True” and the applause soon brings the band back for “Through the Barricades” and “Gold”.

The band are on good form and the audience clearly love them. There is a higher percentage of women than you get at most gigs and many of them would obviously have been teenage girls when the band were at their height. They are reliving their youth and having a great time in the process. I even saw one woman wearing what I’m convinced was an original 1985 Band Aid t-shirt.

Not the best gig I’ve seen this year. And the O2 is still a terrible venue for most shows. But I’m glad I’ve ticked off another entry in my I-Spy Book of 80s Pop Stars.

The set list is on setlist.fm.

Reviews

(I think these are all from the previous night)

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