Swing is in the air

Tony Hadley

Tony Hadley - Credit: Archant

Eighties New Romantic idol and Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley is about to embark on his first ever solo tour - complete with symphony orchestra. Wayne Savage finds out more

Tony Hadley

Tony Hadley - Credit: Archant

Up at the crack of dawn for a BBC breakfast appearance, Tony Hadley’s sounding surprisingly upbeat when I call.

“We were up at silly o’clock this morning, we did a sound-check at five; I think that’s the earliest I’ve ever done”, laughs the Spandau Ballet frontman, a round of interviews ahead of him.

Hadley is one of the busiest men in music; with several European and festival dates planned, his weekly Absolute 80s radio show, the relaunch of his Hadley’s Gold beer and a new album to finish.

On his mind right now is his UK tour – kicking-off at the Ipswich Regent on October 7 and stopping by Southend’s Cliff Pavilion on October 18 – which will see him joined on stage by his band, a big brass section and the 40-piece Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra.

Tony Hadley

Tony Hadley - Credit: Archant

“We tested the water last October, doing three shows finishing at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was so successful and was such a great buzz.

“For me as a singer it was incredible. It was like ‘wow, this is something a bit special... This is an opportunity we’d be crazy to miss’.”

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The first half sees Hadley sing tracks by some of his favourite artists. For the second, he’s taken some of Spandau’s greatest hits and a couple of their more unusual songs and orchestrated the whole lot.

“I say to people ‘I’ve become my own twwbute so we don’t need any others, just me’,” he laughs.

“We’ve kept quite faithful to the basic arrangement of the songs but the orchestrations are somewhat complicated so we rehearsed heavily obviously, but they’re all fantastic musicians.”

It’s Hadley’s first proper solo tour in donkey’s years and he’s looking forward to it.

“Even though I’ve worked with an orchestra it was always (with other singers)... To take a whole two-hour show all on my shoulders with new material; to be honest I was pretty terrified I must admit when we did those first three shows.

“Once you hit the stage and you can feel the vibe of the audience, the orchestra, the nerves kinda went and the new material went down a storm so I was very pleased. This time around I’m not scared about it at all... I know what it’s about now, what to expect,” he laughs.

The first half of the show will also include songs from his new, as yet untitled, album.

“It’s the first originals album I’ve ever released actually; it’s been written or co-written by me.

“I’ve released loads of albums but some of the songs I’ve written, some have been covers. This time I said ‘no, I just wanna do what I wanna do and I really wanna write this album’.

“The few people who have heard it so far are going ‘wow, bit different’. In a sense I’ve gone back to Spandau’s early roots really. I’ve (still) got to put an orchestra on top of some of the songs and I’ve asked my seven-year-old daughter Zara if she fancied doing the cover - (it’s) her first commission,” Hadley laughs.

Coming to cinemas ahead of the tour is Spandau Ballet movie Soul Boys of the Western World, which Hadley describes as a warts and all documentary from the band’s very beginning through to the heady days.

“It’s taken about a year-and-a-half. We’re still on good terms, me and the rest of the guys. A lot of the footage I’d never seen before, it’s archive footage that’s come from all over the world. There were times when I was thinking ‘I didn’t know I was being filmed’.

“There are moments where you’re sitting there with your head in your hands thinking ‘oh God I don’t want to be here’. It’s an honest documentary and history of the band. That’s what’s important, there’s no point in just making it all glammy and lovely, that just doesn’t work.”

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