It was 80’s night at House Of Blues on Saturday as British quintet Spandau Ballet made their return to the States after almost 30 years. The group played a few shows in California in January, but officially kicked off the Soul Boys Of The Western World campaign to coincide with the release of a documentary about the band. The audience was made up mostly of folks who were probably in attendance for Spandau’s last show in the midwest, and as soon as they started playing everyone reverted back to a 21 year old.
If you only know the band from their hits “True” and “Gold,” you probably think they fall easily on the “light” side of the rock spectrum. I was actually a bit surprised at how loud it got. More like a KISS concert than what I had assumed. They even took it way back to their early electronic days for a few songs in the middle of the set.
My favorite aspect of the show was watching Steve Norman make his way through a bevy of instruments, often switching multiple times in one song. He played guitar, percussion, two different saxophones (alto and tenor I think)-each one like a masterful expert and with the unbridled enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store.
The enthusiasm part was true for everyone in the band and the audience alike. It was fun to see people taking such joy in seeing their favorite band from the 80’s back on stage in Chicago after such a long hiatus. Lead singer Tony Hadley was definitely feeding off the energy in the crowd, especially when he led a short acoustic sing-a-long of the bands classic “Gold.” Every word poured out of the audience like they were cruising the streets in their Trans Am with the radio blaring and the top down.
The band was tighter than most expected. I heard a lot of comments around me about how good they sounded after 30 years. They have been playing overseas for the past year, so it’s not like they’re out of practice. They’re probably better now than they were in the 80’s, just a little older. They don’t show any signs of slowing down, though. I think I was more exhausted after their set than they were.
Spandau Ballet has global dates booked through September, including a handful of east coast and west coast shows. You can find dates and ticket info on the groups website. Soul Boys Of The Western World gets its official release in the U.S. on April 29th.
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