Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spandau Ballet Comes Home

Spandau Ballet at the Beacon Theater

Spandau Ballet’s concert at the Beacon Theater was something of a homecoming for both of us. They hadn’t played in New York in 32 years and I hadn’t seen them play in New York in 34. At first I was worried that the concert couldn’t possibly live up to their American debut at the Underground, a show so impossibly glamorous and exciting that Tina Turner was in the audience.
But Spandau Ballet has grown from the synthesizer-based club anthems of their debut album, Journeys to Glory, to the radio-friendly mainstream pop of their international megahit “True.” They’ve also gotten better as musicians.
The show got off to a bumpy start (for me at least) because they were playing a lot of new material, and a lot of it sounded to me like—I hate to say it—“easy listening” music. (The fact that there were quite a few empty seats in the balcony at the start of the concert didn’t help, either.)
But then they did a medley of songs from Journeys to Glory and that’s when they hit their stride. Some other new songs followed, interspersed with hits like an acoustic version of “Gold” and a powerful “Chant No. 1,” as well as an impressive drum solo from John Keeble during an instrumental version of "Glow" that proved he has real chops.
The concert ended with the obligatory performance of “True,” a full-band rendition of “Gold,” and “Through the Barricades,” another “True”-like power ballad.
This show, in conjunction with their new documentary, Soul Boys of the Western World, should prove to doubters that they are, and always have been, more than just five pretty faces. In addition to having one of the best male vocalists in pop music in Tony Hadley, they are, all of them, real musicians.

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