By Ben Doy
Spandau Ballet are returning to New Zealand where they're set to play one show at the Vector Arena in Auckland on Sunday May 10th. Consisting of Tony Hadley, Gary Kemp, Steve Norman, John Keebleand Martin Kemp, the band reunited in 2009 following a 19-year break, embarked on a world tour and released the album ‘Once More' that same year.
Last week I was fortunate enough to have a chat with drummer John Keeble, and asked how the 2009 reunion came about. "The answer is about as long as the question," he replied. "But really, we were a bunch of guys that went to school together... started playing in the school music room and traveled the world together. The film explains it quite well. 'Boys are good, boys have success, then all the wheels come off'... and then there is a bit of redemption at the end. I'd say the 3 or 4 years previous to the reunion was probably the hardest work I'd ever done - just with negotiation and trying to put this big thing back together. I think we got back together for the right reasons. A band is a bit like a sports team; you need your buddies around you and, as I said in the film, I wanted a better end. And I think what happened is rather than get a better end, we've got a bit of a new beginning. We got back together in 2009 and that went really well, we came down and played the Vector (Arena) and that went fab. We realised we could still do it well, rekindle our friendship and be an inspiration."
The movie that John is referring to is of course 'Soulboys Of The Western World' - which documented the rise, fall and reunion of the 80s pop sensations. "We employed Kate Griffiths to hunt down every bit of footage of the band," says Keeble. "We weren't sure we had enough (footage) to make a movie. It was sort of like making a movie without knowing it really. But we found about 500 hours worth and sometimes the raw footage is better than the stuff that actually got broadcast. I was astonished at how much stuff we had. The shots at the HMS Belfast, which was the last show before we signed a deal, none of us had ever seen that until a year ago. It was literally found in someone's drawer. That was a distant memory and a few black & white photos. So it's been a bit of a voyage of discovery for us as well. "
Along with the movie, 2014 also saw the release of Spandau Ballet's album‘The Story - The Best Of Spandau Ballet', which included 3 new tracks. I wondered whether this had given the band enthusiasm to release an album of new material, to which Keeble responded positively "Yeah, I think you've got to stay in the now. While we're proud of what we've done; all those tunes have become a part of pop culture really, all across the world. You can't get much further away than you blokes", he laughs. "We've been playing those new songs on the tour now and they're right up there with my favourite songs to play. They came together very quickly & everyone I played the demos to said ‘It sounds just like Spandau Ballet', and they're right. The way we play, the way we write, it makes us sound like us. And I think that's possibly the most important thing to have as a band. I think doing these three new tunes has whet everyone's appetite for making some more music."
Keeble is excited to return to New Zealand this May. "I'm looking forward to getting down there, I've got a few good buddies down your way. Dion Nash who use to play cricket for you, he's a big mate of mine. We see each other across a planet."
With the subject of cricket brought up, I asked if he'd been keeping up with the World Cup. "I've got more confidence in Spandau Ballet than the England cricket team!" Keeble joked. "I wish them well and we'll see you in the final hopefully."
I kind of hope New Zealand see England in the final too...
Spandau Ballet with special guest Nik Kershaw
Sunday May 10th: Vector Arena, Auckland
Tickets via Ticketmaster