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Spandau Ballet: Ready to rock the White Isle, three decades on

Ibiza Spotlight gets Gary Kemp's low down on Spandau Ballet's much awaited return to the White Isle, thirty years since their Ku Club ambush.

Ibiza is a mecca for clubbers who flood the island every summer for its serotonin boosting sonic seductions at the hands of the world's biggest DJs. But before the rule of the dancefloor levelers and after the influence of the Hippie period, Ibiza was thrust into the UK bred pop culture movement, New Romanticism. From The Blitz in London to the equally legendary Ku Club in Ibiza arrived Spandau Ballet - a band that is credited with transforming the island's music landscape forever. And as you may have already discovered, after over three decades, they're back.

Ibiza Rocks Hotel will lend its stage to the reunited iconic British superband who provided the soundtrack to a generation with a stream of groundbreaking mammoth hits including, Gold and To Cut A Long Story Short. On grabbing a chat with Gary Kemp, he revealed that the band, which has been on a worldwide tour since January, is “boiled-up” and eagerly anticipating landing back on the island to perform to the Ibiza Rocks crowd. “This is the best show we've ever done. We're looking forward to Ibiza. We feel connected to Ibiza and I feel that it is where there was an element of beginning for us.”

Their one and only gig in Ibiza's extravagant Ku Club in 1981, as part of a club circuit tour which also saw them take on Paris, Rome, and Madrid, wasn't just a beginning for the eye-liner laden London lads; it inadvertently was a beginning for the island which consequently underwent a cultural and musical transformation as the Ibiza and London club scenes were bridged. It holds an element of beginning for the band in the early 1980s, but, unbeknown to most, it once again became a land of beginnings for Spandau Ballet over thirty years later in 2004 after a heavily publicised court clash over royalties between Gary and his three unrelated ex bandmates. “After all the troubles we had, the first thing I did was fly to Ibiza to meet Steve (Norman) to try and negotiate a future with him.” What followed was a reunion which saw the release of an album Once More in 2009, the Reformation Tour in 2010, a greatest hits album 'The Story – The Very Best of Spandau Ballet', and at the end of 2014, the release of documentary 'Spandau Ballet: Soul Boys Of The Western World'.

A new dynamic holds Spandau Ballet together as Gary tells of their having much more respect for each other now: “I was very driven in the 80s and a control freak," Gary admits. "There is more democracy in the group now. There is an element of tension but without that, it can be bland. There has to be different characters in a band and they have to fight against each other a little bit. It's a strange dichotomy of music when you're playing on stage, in that you have to be together as a unit. You rely on each other and you are only as good as the guy playing next to you. We've got a good line-up. This is the team we want to pick every time we go out to play, there's no substitute.”

"I defy anyone to come to see our show and not get off on it, I really would."

Gary is quick to laud the audiences that have packed into venues this year to see the band on tour and on the back of the eager reception they've received, he is excited to deliver at Ibiza Rocks Hotel. “I went to see Florence and the Machine play at Ibiza Rocks and was really impressed by it; loved the vibe, cool unique building in that you also have people in their hotel balconies watching the show.” He hopes to find a mixed bag of all ages to connect with from the ‘older English blokes' who the songs hold nostalgic memories for, to the younger troops who may have started singing the lyrics to their songs without even knowing the name of the band. “What I really like is a mixed demographic,” Gary attests. “I think the documentary helped bring in a new younger audience who are interested in those dressing up days of the late 70s and early 80s. The 80s is given a lot more respect now, people realise how young bands were in charge – they wrote their own stuff, produced it and worked out how they wanted to look. These were the glory days and younger people who didn't experience it at the time can really appreciate that.”

Pitting the approaching Balearic date as feeling like a ‘home gig' and being a welcomed challenge, it is clear that Spandau Ballet as a unified unit remain innately in tune with the wants and the needs of their fans while on stage and he is confident they will deliver. “The songs belong to them. We don't do anything half-heartedly and this is a good time show. Lots of dancing, singing and interaction which is what we love to see. We're a gang on stage which after all the issues we've had, we can enjoy being on a lot more. People at Ibiza Rocks are on holiday to have a great time, not there to take culture too seriously, and I think this is something we can deliver on. I defy anyone to come to see our show and not get off on it, I really would.”

Spandau Ballet will play at Ibiza Rocks Hotel on Wed 19 August.

View this feature on the weekly Spotlight Magazine, Issue 027.


WORDS | Aimee Lawrence

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