Back stronger than ever

Spandau Ballet, which broke up in 1990 amid lawsuits, have patched up and are on a successful world tour

Spandau Ballet comprise (from left) John Keeble, Gary Kemp, Tony Hadley, Steve Norman and Martin Kemp.
Spandau Ballet comprise (from left) John Keeble, Gary Kemp, Tony Hadley, Steve Norman and Martin Kemp.PHOTO: WARNER MUSIC

Of the seven studio albums British soul-pop band Spandau Ballet have released, there is one that lead singer Tony Hadley would prefer to forget. 

Heart Like A Sky (1989), the last album the band worked on together before they disbanded for 20 years, is a constant reminder of how unhappy he was at the time. 

"We made that last album with an awful title... it was certainly not one of my favourite albums. It was a terrible time, I hated making the album," Hadley, 55, tells Life in a telephone interview from Italy, where Spandau Ballet are touring.

"During the course of making the album, I said, 'I'm not doing this anymore.' It shouldn't be hard work. Relationships within the band have to be good to produce good songs and moments."

While he did not elaborate on how their relationships were strained then, the situation only got worse subsequently: Not only did they break up in 1990, Hadley, drummer John Keeble and saxophonist Steve Norman also sued guitarist Gary Kemp for allegedly unpaid songwriting royalties. The trio lost the case and decided not to appeal the decision out of "goodwill".


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These days, the strained relationships and court battle are water under the bridge. Spandau Ballet appear to be stronger than ever, touring the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy. 

Their global comeback tour - the first time they have been on the road together in five years - will see them make their stage debut in Singapore at the 2015 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Sept 19.

Hadley says the tour thus far has been "brilliant". 

"You always worry as an artist if people are going to respond or if they are still going to like you. But we've been all over the place and it's been fantastic. I think people are really excited about the band still staying together."

Spandau Ballet, comprising Hadley, Kemp and his younger brother, bassist Martin Kemp, Keeble and Norman, were formed in 1979 and rose to become one of the most successful supergroups in the 1980s, on the back of chart- toppers such as To Cut A Long Story Short, Gold, Only When You Leave and True. They have sold more than 25 million albums, scored numerous multi-platinum albums and produced 23 hit singles.

After splitting up in 1990, they reunited 20 years later in 2009.

Last year, a documentary film that traces the band's journey, Soul Boys Of The Western World, was released.

But they do not want to be a retro act. Shortly after the film came out, the band unveiled three new songs in a best-of compilation album, The Story - The Very Best Of Spandau Ballet. They intend to perform the new songs at their F1 gig here.

Hadley says of the documentary film: "I've watched it three times, and I can't watch it again. There are family members on the film that are no longer alive, like my father who died many years ago. It's a hard film to watch... we were young kids together who wanted to take over the world and be successful. Then during the film, you can slowly see the disintegration of the band... it was like a marriage that had gone very wrong."

They are now in a good place, he adds.

"It's not good to carry all that anger and stress around, and we all have solo projects. So we'd go off and work on solo stuff, and come back together again when we can and when we will. It's a nice position to be in."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2015, with the headline 'Back stronger than ever'. Print Edition | Subscribe