- - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spandau Ballet, the well-dressed English new romantics, conquered MTV, the music charts and audiences around the world in the 1980s. Their slew of hits included the ultimate prom/wedding/love song, “True.”

Now the band is gearing up for a worldwide reunion tour that will take them to the U.S. for the first time in three decades, including a stop at the District’s 9:30 Club on Tuesday.

The band members once hated one another so much that several took others to court over royalties. Just how did they put aside their differences to release the documentary “Soul Boys of the Western World” and a new hits compilation — which adds three songs — “The Story: The Very Best of Spandau Ballet” and tour again?

To answer those questions, you’ve got to go the sources: singer Tony Hadley, drummer John Keeble and sax man Steve Norman. The three explained how having such a massive hit with “True” may have hurt their career and how this reunion tour was no easy feat to pull off.

Question: How did this reunion happen?

Tony Hadley: We had a pretty bad breakup — ended up in court and everything else. Getting the band back together was not easy.

The original U.K. reunion in 2009 happened purely by accident. I was doing a radio interview in England with DJ Shane Ritchie. He kept going on about getting the band back together. Just to shut him up, I said, “For the 30th anniversary I’ll get the band back together.” It was a joke.

Next thing I know, it’s a news item that we’re getting back together. My management’s office is flooded with calls and offers. My manager said, “This is something you should think about.”

After six months of thinking, John Keeble, the drummer for Spandau and my solo band, slowly got us together. He’s the Kissinger of the band. Really good at negotiations. Finally [guitarist] Gary [Kemp] and I met over a pint in a pub. We decided to forget or, at least, not talk about the past and started building a friendship again, shook hands [and] had another couple of pints.

In 2014, [“Souls Boys of the Western World”] came out and was well-received. It reminded people about the band and not just the song. We’ve wanted to come over to America and do gigs for ages now.

I think there has been a problem over the years with having a song like “True,” which is one of the most played records on American radio ever. The song is bigger than the band. People know it from films like “The Wedding Singer” and rappers sampling it. But they had forgotten about the band. The film helped remind people of us, and now we finally get to play in America again after three decades away. Very exciting.

Q: Why is this tour different from an ‘80s nostalgia gig?

John Keeble: Fans, both old and new, will come out and get to see the original band. Us five — no fill-ins, no hired players. All the founding members together some 30 years on. That’s what makes it special. Doing what we love. What other band can say that?

Q: Is touring America harder than the rest of the world?

Tony Hadley: America is such an exciting place. I think Spandau didn’t play it very wisely the first time out because America is a place you got to come tour and tour and tour.

With Spandau, we only did two small tours back in the early 1980s that didn’t make a dent. I look at Duran Duran, who came over here and said, “We’re going to play everywhere and work our nuts off.” It paid off for them. They built a loyal following here that stuck with them.

Q: At the L.A. miniconcert, your voice still sounded solid.

TH: Thank you. I’m very lucky.”

Steve Norman: That voice. No one can sing like Tony. I’ve played with dozens of world-class musicians and singers in my time away from Spandau Ballet, and no one can do what Tony does to a song. No one.

TH: Thank you.

Q: Why is “True” such a timeless song?

TH: Not sure. For some reason, it just connects with people. No one in the band thought it was a single when we recorded it. At least not at first. Then radio stations picked up on it. Since then, it has been used in so many films. It’s the wedding song. Song guys can play it to win over their girl. The first dance song. It’s up there as one of those classic love songs.

I don’t know why people love it so, but thank God they do.


WHAT: Spandau Ballet

WHERE: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

WHEN: Tuesday, doors at 7 p.m.

INFO: Tickets $45 by calling 202/265-0930 or 877/435-9849 or by visiting 930.com

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