Monday, September 21, 2015

Recap of SPANDAU BALLET LIVE IN MANILA 2015: Rejuvenating Reunion!

September 22, 2015




Spandau Ballet was one of the famous British bands from the 1980s who are only coming to Manila for the very first time in their career. Their contemporaries Duran Duran and Tears for Fears have both come twice already with full house concerts. The excitement for this SB concert was very high among those around the 50-year old age group who grew up with their music. There was additional excitement because this was the first tour of the group in 30 years with all the original band members: Tony Hadley (lead vocals), Gary Kemp (lead guitar), Steve Norman (saxophone, guitar, percussion), Martin Kemp (bass guitar) and John Keeble (drums).  (* Tony Hadley though had a solo gig at the Solaire last year.)

The show started promptly at 8 am when front act, Per Sorensen, casually stepped out on the stage with his co-keyboardist. He still has the range, but the voice quality itself is a bit rough already, probably with age. His keyboard skills were still undeniable. He had a thirty minute set, where he sang some of his former band Fra Lippo Lippi's biggest hits, like "Angel," "Beauty and Madness," "Everytime I See You," and "Light and Shade". 




He seemed frustrated that more people were not singing along as much as he was expecting them to, like in their concerts here during their prime (both of which I actually got to watch). Maybe next time he should flash the lyrics on the screen so the audience could sing along easily. He also sang a couple of songs from the "Songs" album to open and close his set -- "Even the Tall Trees Bend" and "Crash of Light" -- which he claims he had not sung in 30 years. The set was a bit too laid back to be truly exciting, but the 80s nostalgia was definitely stoked in preparation for the main act we came here for.

After a 20-minute break, the lights dimmed down again by 9 pm. The screaming was there, but not as loud as I was expecting, The first song was "Soul Boy", which was where the title of their reunion tour ("Soul Boys of the Western World Tour") came from.  Then they immediately shifted to high gear with three consecutive big hits:  "Highly Strung," "Only When You Leave" (VIDEO) and my personal favorite "Round and Round." From the very first song, we all noticed how the voice of lead vocalist Tony Hadley did not show signs of age at all. His vocal instrument was as smooth and as effortless on the high notes as we remember it to be.




As they usually do in concerts, the act does new material. SB did a couple, entitled "This Is the Love" and "Steal" which were both very good.  "Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)" was next. Then they went through a very long series of barely familiar songs like a medley of "Reformation" / "Mandolin" / "Confused" / "The Freeze,"  "To Cut a Long Story Short" (the band's 1980 debut single in the UK) and a percussion instrumental called "Glow." These were good songs, but the audience was antsy for the big hits.

Suddenly, Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp reappeared on a smaller stage behind the Patron section to the surprise of the audience. There they sang a couple of songs in acapella. The first was a melodious song called "Empty Spaces". Then he began to sing their big hit "Gold" which woke the audience back to life again.  Unfortunately, it was just an abbreviated version that undoubtedly kept the audience wanting.

Tony and Gary made their way back to the stage singing "Once More" (a comeback single released in 2009) Then after that, they sang a slowed-down extended version of "I'll Fly for You" (VIDEO). This was followed by a couple of early hits "Instinction" and "Communication." The audience got excited again when they sang "Lifeline." 




At this point Tony had brought some Jack Daniels with him on the stage as he introduced the members of the band. It turns out John Keeble was not able to make the trip and they had a replacement drummer for this leg of the tour. Steve Norman carelessly let go of a couple of "F" words when he introduced Tony.

The audience excitement further grew with the next song, their only Top 10 hit in the US (#4 on the Billboard Hot 100), "True." However, that would be the last song of their main set. They bade their goodbyes and left the stage after that, but the crowd clamored for more.

For their encore, they first sang a most moving version of "Through the Barricades" which fully showcased Tony's amazing vocal range, unsullied by age (and alcohol). Their grand finale was the complete version of "Gold." This was a high-energy final song which ended the show in very high-spirits. 




Honestly, while this concert was good, but it did not exactly reach the high bar set by the Duran Duran and Tears for Fears concerts before it. Despite the fact that the General Admission section was not opened at al, the MOA Arena was still not a total full house last night, as there were several empty sections in the Upper Box. 

Years before, concerts with foreign musical acts like this were huge special events fans really looked forward to. But now with all these foreign concerts coming in almost every week, is the Filipino audience already experiencing some kind of concert fatigue? Hope not. I'd still like to see these stars perform their music here for us.


19 comments:

  1. The guy who subbed for John Keeble that night was ex-Duran Duran drummer Sterling Campbell, who played on the Liberty album. He was just part of the band for a very short while.

    I would have wanted them to come onstage looking more united and polished, like Duran Duran are whenever they perform. Parang they just threw on whatever clothes they had brought with them with the exception of Tony who looked dashing but kind of stuck out like a sore thumb because he looked so formal.

    The audience was pretty tame, considering how bad ass the set was. I was the scandalous one screaming from upper box ... What, no reaction? Why, Steve Norman was banging on those percussions in a jam session with Sterling Campbell and there was initiall no reaction? Low-batt ba lahat last night?

    They sang all their hits plus some smooth new ones ... Hope they would come up with an album soon!

    Did Per cut his set short? Parang the audience was pretty lukewarm which is strange because he was very good. Hardly any screams and cheers. Then again, some of his songs were stick your head in the oven depressing.

    You were right re the concert not matching the level of Tears For Fears and Duran Duran. No one stood up and danced from my section. Ah, we should wait for Duran Durans's Paper Gods tour. Now that is a funky good time!

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  2. I attended a different one several months back and I felt the same, like the crowd was not as enthustiastic as they used to be. I also hope that the Filipino audience is not too tired of this because there are still those that I would love to see.

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  3. Whoa, Spandau Ballet songs have been drifting in and out of my head during my early years. "Round and round it goes..." haha, my dad would play their cassette tapes over and over again in his stereo and us kids don't have a say about it. We ended up memorizing a lot of their songs! I wasn't aware about their concert here! Sayang!

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  4. Oh gosh! How nice that you get to experience them live. They are living legends.

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  5. What a nice way to start my day - reading this article and watching the videos included. They'll have a great show, I'll bet!

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  6. Thanks for sharing such a great concert! I am sure it is great to watch it live!

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  7. i've never been to a concert in my life, but now i feel that i've missed out on a lot =(

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  8. ive heard of them only recently. i am not really into music so i dont know much about bands. after all, i just know the famous singers of 90s (more like boybands lol).

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  9. Philippines has now developed an attractive market for concerts. It's nice to see more artist take their act to the country.

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  10. I listened only with their music but not attended any live concert. Well, in the Philippines, most foreign artistes performed here with success.

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  11. I have never attended any concerts yet but want to hear them live will be a magical experience.

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  12. Not really a fan of them, but for sure they have more fans around the country. It's just too bad that many Filipinos from other islands are prevented from going to Manila to enjoy these concerts simply because of logistics.

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  13. Never heard of them before but they seem to be a cool group of people. Enjoy the concert.
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  14. Don't know them, so I won't be able to appreciate their works. But I guess they are really popular in Manila because the crowd is really huge!

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  15. The Spandau Ballet concert was cool but not that explosive. For those who enjoy the songs at that era the concert might bring back the old memories. It has been a while I did not attend concert, the last was big bang.

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  16. I am not a concert-going kinda person, and one of the last concerts I attended was Bananarama's, at a beach... I suppose if a band I loved as a teen comes along, I might just be tempted again?

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  17. I secretly love 80's music!!! Love Spandeau Ballet's song True. I would have been down for this.

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  18. I'm crossing my fingers that the concert had turned out to be successful (monetary wise). I know some of their songs but not really dig the group.

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  19. Oh my! Such a blessing to be able to enjoy them singing live. These living legends are worth spending money to attend their concerts for.

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