Spandau Ballet reliving ‘True’ memories 

click to enlarge After a 19-year fallout, British New Wave band Spandau Ballet is back. - COURTESY SCARLET PAGE
  • COURTESY SCARLET PAGE
  • After a 19-year fallout, British New Wave band Spandau Ballet is back.
Tony Hadley didn’t sink after the 1989 breakup of his classic New Romantic combo Spandau Ballet. He swam, issuing his first solo album in 1992 and by his third – “Passing Strangers” in 2006 – jumping into big band swing while simultaneously playing Billy Flynn in the West End musical “Chicago.” He also worked as a Virgin Radio announcer, and won the reality TV series “Reborn in the USA,” competing against other UK crooners. The last thing he was expecting was a Spandau Ballet reunion, courtesy of “Soul Boys of the Western World,” female filmmaker George Hencken’s new documentary on the group, and “The Story,” a greatest-hits CD, featuring three new tracks. But it’s happening. And he’s singing that worldwide smash “True” all over again.

Years ago, you had a royalty lawsuit against Gary Kemp, Spandau’s key songwriter. But wasn’t it Gary who initiated this reformation?

Well, it was a tough process, and it’s documented in the film. We had a 19-year fallout, which was quite acrimonious. But John Keeble, our drummer, was instrumental in putting the bits together, and the final meeting between myself and Gary, where we agreed to play again together. It was in a pub in North London, very English, over a couple of pints of real ale. We both had things to say to each other, but we realized that there’s a history that goes back to when we were 16. So we shook hands and said “Well, let’s try this again!”

You broke through with the huge power ballad “True.” But your earlier work was much edgier.

We were heavily influenced by Berlin electronica, like Kraftwerk, plus Human League and Depeche Mode. But we’d always loved soul music anyway, and Gary wanted to write an Al Green-styled song. So up came “True,” and five million plays later in America, it’s still going strong. And I don’t get tired of singing it, because of the reaction you get from the audience. It’s their song, not ours anymore. And the same for songs like “Gold” and “Through the Barricades.” I am not complaining!

You had some wild hairstyles and clothes in the New Romantic era.

It was what was happening at the time, and we thought it was cool. So I don’t look back at anything and regret it, because it was street fashion. The poster for “Soul Boys” is us five, shot by Lynn Goldsmith in 1981. America hadn’t caught up to what was going on in the UK, and we flew into New York looking like Robin Hood or something out of Marvel Comics. Traffic stopped during the shoot, but Lynn said, “Just stay there!” And we got this iconic picture that really captures the time.

IF YOU GO

Spandau Ballet

Where: Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Jan. 23

Tickets: $42.50

Contact: (415) 345-0900, www.axs.com

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Tom Lanham

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