Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys of the Western World starts in Islington, London in the early ’60s, showing the band – Tony Hadley (Vocals), Gary Kemp (Songwriter, Guitar), Martin Kemp (Bass Guitar), Steve Norman (Guitar, Percussion, Sax), John Keeble (Drums) – their family and the musical influences, the Kemps at the Anna Scher Children’s Theatre, their school years, an early version of the band before Martin joined (since he went to a different school from the rest), early gigs, many band name changes, loads of pictures and video footage, and even a recording of Gary Kemp performing a song at school.
Then they get to the winter of discontent, and on to late 1978 Soho, London where, after soul, rockabilly and punk, everyone was looking for the next big thing, and that was the New Romantic era of the ’80s, with some fantastic electro pop music.
We see their success, their falling out, ending up in court over royalties, and also their rivalry with Duran Duran, as well as a clip from BBC1’s Pop Quiz with Mike Read. It’s also fascinating to simply watch them age over the years, too.
This is a hell of a ride from start to finish and it shows that as well as climbing inexorably over the years as some bands do, there’s also going to be times when some bands come crashing down to the point where there’s nothing left to do, and as John Keeble says, there were times when he didn’t even know if he’d pick up a drumstick again, and how depressing that felt.
This is not only a must for Spandau Ballet fans, but also for fans of all music, and for any new bands starting out, as there’s a lot of lessons which can be learned.
Full credit to the boys for getting all of this footage together, since they filmed themselves constantly over the years due to their obsession with image, and also for creating an engaging narrative out of it all.
There’s a lot of their music which I liked, although it didn’t feel cool to say you were a fan of Spandau Ballet back in the day and, quite frankly, tracks like True were played so often on the radio that, before too long, I was sick of them. However, after quite a long break with the occasional listen inbetween, hearing them today, they all sound so damn good, especially The Freeze, which I don’t recall hearing much back on its original release in 1981. The electro feel, with synth and bass just makes me want to dig out my air-bass guitar and join in!
Recently, even my local Manchester indie/rock club, 42nd Street, played Gold in the middle of a Friday night! Like a lot of ’80s tracks occasionally played in there, despite most of the people in there not being able to remember the songs first time round, it went down an absolute storm.
None of the band appear onscreen as they are now, but their names are displayed as they speak, to differentiate between them.
Go to page 2 for the presentation and the extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.