Tony Hadley seems to have developed a liking for Australia. He’s visited our shores four times in the last five years, which isn’t bad for someone who hasn’t had a hit for decades. The Spandau Ballet frontman peddles nostalgia, and he does it so well that I haven’t missed one of those recent tours.
I also continue to see Tony because he never rests on his laurels. Sure, he mostly sings the same songs, but it’s always packaged up just slightly differently. There was the tour with Paul Young, with his Spandau Ballet bandmates, with Go West, and now with a symphony. This was the most intriguing for me. I was curious to hear how Spandau’s legendary synth and guitar-driven sound would work with strings and wind instruments.
The result was honestly mixed. If it was simply Tony and the Sydney Symphonia musicians, I think the sound might have been more coherent. However, with those trademark electric guitars and keys still present, sometimes the sound got confused. Sometimes it seemed like the musicians were competing against one another, but in other places the marriage was perfect. It was certainly an interesting experiment, but not one that always worked.
The show was cleverly split up into two halves. The first saw Tony playing a few tracks from his soon to be released solo album as well as the songs that have influenced his career. This was really interesting for a music buff like me. I never imagined I’d get to hear him sing The Eagles’ “New York Minute,” “David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” or “Jimmy Buffet’s “Time in a Bottle.” The latter was particularly touching, with stripped back instrumentation letting those beautiful lyrics come to the fore.
After intermission it was time for the Spandau Ballet hits that brought us there. These certainly took on a new dimension with the orchestral arrangements. I even found myself enjoying some songs, like “Muscle Bound,” which hadn’t struck a chord with me before. “Through the Barricades” was suitably epic, and the favourites “True” and “Gold” had everyone in the stalls dancing. What a shame the State Theatre’s “no dancing in the dress circle” policy prevented me from joining them!
No matter what he’s singing, Tony is the consummate professional. He’s trimmed down since his last visit to Oz, and I think it’s given him even more energy. His voice also only seems to get stronger as the years march on. He had the audience in the palm of his hand from the first song, and kept them there. He just doesn’t disappoint. That’s why I’m wondering when his next visit to our part of the world will be!
Image source: own photos