Belfast Telegraph

Eighties nostalgia trip with the old romantics Spandau Ballet just pure gold

Review: Spandau Ballet at Odyssey Arena, Belfast

By Simon Fallaha

As Spandau Ballet geared up to enter Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, one wondered: how good a show could we really expect from the so-called SoulBoys Of The Western World, whose infectious melodies of three decades ago had, to pardon the puns, struck Gold and rang True with adoring fans across the globe?

The answer was, fortunately, a rather good one.

DJ Rusty Egan’s supporting setlist was packed with retro and techno romanticism, the musical blend of past and future that the main band amplified.

Tony Hadley and his men would soon seek to create a temporal and rather tempestuous Eighties cauldron both on stage and off it.

The lights went down, the cheers went up, and the arena was cast in blue as the curtain dropped and Hadley’s iconic voice thrust into life.

The sound was kind to John Keeble’s drums, and with large screens relaying the instantly recognisable faces of Martin and Gary Kemp alongside Steve Norman’s sax playing poses, it immediately felt both epic and relatable.

The band had sprinted out of the blocks, and one only hoped they could maintain a high standard for the marathon ahead.

Things moved at a steady, electric pace, each instrumentalist having their moment in the spotlight without drowning out either the ladies’ squeals at the Kemp brothers or the booming presence of a driven but not domineering Hadley.

Even when the tempo dropped, the band projected an image of cool concentration and appealing appreciation.

The image and energy remained intact, though the gig didn’t quite deliver on its early promise.

The new songs — one guitar-laden, one the closest thing imaginable to modern day synth — were pleasant and agreeable, but the classics were, naturally, best received.

When one wasn’t lost in wistfulness — or revitalised, as I Don’t Need This Pressure On showed — admiration was reserved for the strong musicianship, despite Hadley’s falsetto betraying him once.

As the band played on they were incessantly accompanied by a wide and interesting variety of lighting effects.

Ultimately the lighting proved more variable than the setlist, the band eventually settling into an all too comfortable groove during the second half of the concert.

Still, there were bright spots: a delightfully intimate Empty Spaces, a poignantly unifying Through The Barricades, and (inevitably) Gold.

Three stars

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