Spandau Ballet play Newmarket Racecourses tonight. We chat to Tony Hadley
- Credit: � Scarlet Page
Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley talks to entertainment writer Wayne Savage about touring, looking to the future and why he owes Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones an apology.
The Hadley household is in turmoil when I call, as Tony and family try to squeeze moving house into the band’s hectic touring schedule.
“I’m just dashing around, I’ve only been home a week and there’s a lot to do - It’s pretty crazy,” says the singer, returning with the rest of Spandau to Newmarket’s July Course on August 14. It’s their first time back since 2010, when they attracted some 20,000 fans.
“In the little barn there are stacks of stuff in boxes still, but we won’t be moving until the end of the month and then I’m back on the road.”
Then there’s brewery business, a Christmas album to finish, a solo album...
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“It’s full-speed ahead... I’ve got two grown-up kids and two young ones so when I come home it’s all hands on deck. It’s like ‘hey, let’s just chill’ but it doesn’t work like that,” he laughs.
Inside some of those boxes are, he jokes, millions of demos.
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“I’ve got stacks of songs I’ve never used. I really should go back and look at some of them. Sometimes it (writing) comes easy, sometimes you’ll deliberate on a song for weeks. The lyrics are always the hardest thing, you don’t want to be too much of a cliché. As an artist you’re really hard on yourself at the time. Sometimes you go back years later and think ‘actually, that (song) was really quite good’. Maybe I’ll get all the songs I didn’t put on any albums and throw them out there, see who wants to record ‘em,” he laughs.
Tony doesn’t have to worry about relocating his recording equipment, that’s at his Stevenage studio. But there’s his baby grand piano, a couple of guitars and some bits and bobs to think about. No Spandau memorabillia?
“God, I don’t know where that is. You could would walk in my house and go ‘yeah, there must be a connection with music’ but I don’t have gold discs on the wall, stuff like that. Most of it I’ve given to charity anyway. I’ve kept some platinum albums of True, stuff like that. Generally speaking I’m not a big archivist, I don’t look at Spandau Ballet in the past and go ‘wow, that was great’ I think ‘this is 2015 and it’s a good day’.”
It must’ve made viewing Spandau documentary Soul Boys of the Western World - charting the band’s rise, fall and reunion - hard.
“We had the premier at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve watched it three times now and I don’t ever intend to watch it again. It’s a great film but I find it very painful and upsetting to watch. It’s a warts and all documentary. I probably said this to you before, the nice thing about it is if you don’t like Spandau Ballet there’s something in there (for you); historic moments. We had people who, frankly, were never Spandau Ballet fans who watched the film and said ‘wow, it wasn’t a sugar-coated version of the band it was real’.”
More pleasing was fans and critics’ reaction to Spandau’s recent tour. It got good reviews, really good.
“That’s all you want as an artist, you want to go out there and think you’ve done a great job - not only from the fans’ point of view but also the critics. Spandau’s always been in for a bit of a rub from some of the critics. Getting a five star review from The Times was nice. I tend not to read reviews but sometimes the guys will say ‘listen to this’. This guy didn’t want to like it and at the end grudgingly said ‘alright, I’ll give it to you’. That’s rewarding.”
The hardest fought victories are the best. Twenty-year break aside, the band’s been going for a long time. Tony thinks, as musicians, they’re better than ever. His voice, touch wood, is still kicking and people appreciate they care how they sound and strive to put on a great show.
“Once you’ve been on stage, once you perform you realise what a drug it is and you don’t really ever want to give it up. If you’re still capable of singing and playing... I remember talking about the (Rolling) Stones when I was younger. They were all hitting their mid-40s and there was me gobbing off to Smash Hits or something saying ‘yeah, McCartney and the Stones they should retire they’re too old’, all this business.
“Then you really quickly get to 40 and all of a sudden you hit 55, as I did the other day, and you think ‘wow, I was a bit of an idiot to think that. At the end of the day you’ve got a history and if you’re good at what you do you might as well stick with it.”
Spandau, celebrating their 35th anniversary as a band, have sold more than 25million records and scored numerous multi-platinum albums. They’re looking forward to returning to Newmarket.
“It’s a great atmosphere. Everybody’s there because they want to have a good time, they want to have a bet, have a bit of shampoo and then to top it off you’ve got whatever great band it might be to finish the evening. I remember last time we played, it was great fun. We’re doing all the hits and some new stuff from the greatest hits album. We’re also going to revisit the early stage of Spandau, when we were more of a cult band. It’ll be good.”
Read our review of Spandau Ballet’s gig online later tonight.