Metro Weekly

Review: Spandau Ballet spins Pure Gold at 9:30 Club

Spandau Ballet at Michalsky StyleNite, Credit - Peter Wetter / Wikimedia
Spandau Ballet at Michalsky StyleNite, Credit – Peter Wetter / Wikimedia

Tuesday night at 9:30 Club, British band Spandau Ballet, the iconic vanguard of the “new romantic” subset of the early ’80s new wave era, took the stage in Washington, D.C. for the first time ever.

It was a triumphant performance. The original lineup of vocalist Tony Hadley, guitarist Gary Kemp, bassist Martin Kemp, drummer John Keeble, and the versatile Steve Norman – who performed dual duty with his fiery saxophone on some tracks, and dynamic percussion on others – thrilled the packed crowd with a boisterous run through their catalog. 

The show was part of the band’s first U.S. tour in three decades. The band’s career resurgence began with their first reunion in 2009, nineteen years after splitting acrimoniously. Then in 2014, with the release of Soul Boys of the Western World, an acclaimed documentary covering their musical career, they reunited again to tour and haven’t stopped since. Playing with ultra-tight precision, it’s hard to imagine they’ve ever sounded better or more confident.

Towering front-man Hadley left no doubt that his powerful voice is still intact. He was in a playful mood throughout, often interacting with members of the crowd — funny facial expression, a thumbs up, or a smile and a laugh. His vocals only grew stronger as the night went on and he belted out hit after hit. The band rattled through most of their classics, breathing new life and energy into songs from another generation that sound as fresh and vital as ever.


They opened with “Soul Boys,” one of three new songs performed from their recent album A Story – The Very Best of Spandau Ballet, before launching into knockout renditions of “Highly Strung” and “Only When You Leave” from 1984’s Parade. A wildly rhythmic take on their early smash “Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need this Pressure On)” got the crowd grooving along with infectious enthusiasm. They explored their early new wave roots with five tracks from their debut album Journeys to Glory (1981) in quick succession, culminating in a scorching performance of their debut single “To Cut a Long Story Short.” Toward the end of the main set, their fierce run through a quartet of hits — “I’ll Fly For You,” “Instinction,” “Communication” and “Lifeline” — had the crowd whooping for more.  After a long pause came the quiet pulse of keyboard and guitar that opens their biggest hit, the epic ballad “True.” The crowd sang along as Hadley crooned the familiar lines with fervent emotion, and when Steve Norman hit that iconic saxophone solo, it was chills all around.

The two-song encore included a powerhouse take on “Through the Barricades,” which rendered the original studio recording limp by comparison, and an electrifying performance of their classic 1983 single “Gold,” with Hadley in prime voice and the audience singing along, gleefully immersed in ‘80s glory. 


  1. Soul Boy
  2. Highly Strung
  3. Only When You Leave
  4. How Many Lies
  5. Round and Round
  6. This is the Love
  7. Steal
  8. Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)
  9. Reformation
  10. Mandolin
  11. Confused
  12. The Freeze
  13. To Cut a Long Story Short
  14. Raw
  15. Glow (instrumental version)
  16. Empty Spaces / Gold (acoustic snippet)
  17. Once More
  18. I’ll Fly For You
  19. Instinction
  20. Communication
  21. Lifeline
  22. True
  23. Through the Barricades (encore)
  24. Gold (encore)

Check out our Spotify playlist to enjoy the original songs in the order they were performed on Tuesday night.

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