Music Park: The Wombats @ 9:30 Club — 4/30/15

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Matthew Murphy of The Wombats performs at the 02 Academy in Oxford, England on April 15, 2015.

“We have a roadie named Grossman,” said Matthew Murphy, the lead singer of The Wombats. “He eats four chocolate muffins a day.

“He’s the only man who can eat four chocolate muffins a day and still get thinner!” Matthew declared.

The audience caught and ran with the irreverent banter about Mr. Grossman during the sold-out show at the 9:30 Club on Thursday evening. At various points throughout the evening, they would shout, “Grossman!” — both spontaneously at the beginning of a song or at the behest of the lead vocalist.

“Actually, Grossman isn’t even his real name,” Matthew said later. “We keep calling him that in hopes that it will stick — like Reek in Game of Thrones.”

Erudite and entertaining, Matthew had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he led his band through a merry romp of songs from the three albums by The Wombats to date, including the latest Glitterbug, released last month. The new songs were very well received, and much of the audience already knew the words to quite a few of the songs.

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Music Park: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club — 4/28/15

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Tony Hadley sings in New York City on May 2, 2015.

Wow, Spandau!

Golden-voiced Tony Hadley jumped to the stage of the 9:30 Club Tuesday night and nailed the lyrics of more than two dozen amazing songs by his band Spandau Ballet into the collective consciousness of everyone within earshot.

In the process, Tony and his bandmates *almost* had more fun than the audience at the very so nearly sold-out show. And they most certainly made certain that after a decades-long absence from the United States that they would not be forgotten here generally or in DC specifically any time soon.

Buoyed by the confidence of a band in the thick of strong friendships and camaraderie and confident in a catalog of songs unmatched in their strength and appeal, Spandau Ballet stormed the 9:30 Club with soulful new wave tunes that left men and women aged 20 to 50 screaming for more.

Spandau Ballet weren’t just good — they were superb.

Tony hit the right note immediately with new song “Soul Boy,” also the title track of a new documentary Soul Boys of the Western World, about the band, premiering tonight, April 29, at the IFC Center in Manhattan with the band’s participation. During the song, the audience gets its first taste of the indefatigable Steve Norman on saxophone.

Steve is everywhere — almost always with his trademark sax in one hand — appearing on bongos in one song, slinging a guitar in another and trading his sax for an oboe in a big finale. The man is a one-man band, and perhaps the strongest player in Spandau Ballet if not the entire history of rock and roll. (If that sounds like glib hyperbole, I dare you to watch him in action and then challenge me on that statement.)

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Music Park: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club, 4/28/15

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Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet sings in Italy on March 27, 2015.

I’m amazed to report that tickets are still available for tomorrow’s concert by Spandau Ballet at the 9:30 Club!

The Soul Boys of the Western World (to borrow the title of a new documentary about them) began the latest leg of their U.S. tour in Chicago on Saturday, April 25. Tonight, they perform in Toronto before returning to the United States Tuesday, April 28, for their show at the 9:30 Club. The reinvigorated quintet have been tearing up the concert circuit, earning great reviews, and generally wowing audiences with strong performances.

Their setlist at the House of Blues in Chicago on Saturday included new songs like “This Is the Love” as well as old favorites like “Chant No. 1,” “To Cut a Long Story Short,” “Gold” and of course “True.”

After Spandau Ballet leave DC, they will go to New York City Wednesday to host a special Q&A about their documentary, Soul Boys of the Western World, at the IFC Center in Manhattan. Although it doesn’t have a DC date, Soul Boys of the Western World will play around the country and be available for download through iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and YouTube, as well as other platforms, on Wednesday, April 29.

Listen to the bandmates in Spandau Ballet talk about touring the United States and other subjects in a clip from the U.K. interview show “Loose Women”:

And here’s a full show from London in 2009, the year the band reunited after being apart for about 19 years:

If you need more fuel in your fire to see the band, check out our brief recap of Spandau Ballet’s history. We were absolutely chuffed that the 9:30 Club linked to it in its weekly newsletter last week!

Spandau Ballet
9:30 Club
Tuesday, April 28
Doors @7pm
$45
All ages

Music Park: The Ting Tings @ 9:30 Club — 4/11/15

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The Ting Tings bang the drums at 9:30 Club in 2009

Katie White, in a space age dress with a sweater around the waist, was all about destroying the stage with dance. Nothing was safe from her furious motion. Not the microphone stands or the cords that got twisted and unplugged or the drum, the drum, the drum that fell after repeated banging.

After awhile, she gave the stage hand a shout out for being the hero of the night, repeatedly putting things back in perfect order, until she danced back through.

After a 3-year absence, Katie White and Jules de Martino, who make up The Ting Tings out of Manchester, returned in full dance mode to the 9:30 Club with their new album, Super Critical, and tour. The new songs are part disco and a few, like “Only Love”, are reminiscent of their first album, We Started Nothing.

This marked he fifth time I’ve seen The Ting Tings play live, and this was most certainly their best performance yet. With three albums worth of material to play, they took the packed club on a 13 song odyssey.

They spent much of the night doling out gems from Super Critical and We Started Nothing. They largely skipped their second album except to play “Hang It Up” and “Give It Back” early on in the show.

New songs like “Communication”, takes one back to early 90’s electronic dance, and “Green Poison” gives off a whiff of funk. Katie opened the latter by requesting the light crew to shine the nastiest green lights they can find.

The crowd was constantly in motion, feeding off of Katie’s smooth vocals and the peppy beats from Jules.

The Ting Tings are back. You need to pick up their new album and start your own dance party.

 

KANEHOLLER opened for The Ting Ting’s during this early Saturday show. The electro singing-songwriting duo of Chelsea Tyler and Jon Foster formed in Brooklyn in 2011 under the name “badbad” and are now based in Venice, CA.

This was their first show ever in DC. They seemed pleased to be here and played a number of catchy electro-dance songs like “Paper Games” and “Evermore”. Chelsea Tyler often resembled an electronic version of Alanis Morissette in motion.

A fine set that got the crowd loose and ready for The Ting Tings.

 

The Ting Ting’s Set List

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Don’t Miss: The Ting Tings @ 9:30 Club, 4/11/15

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Jules De Martino and Katie White go disco with Super Critical.

A few years ago, Katie White and Jules De Martino took to the island of Ibiza. There, the pop duo known as the Ting Tings found Andy Taylor, formerly guitarist of Duran Duran.

The Ting Tings enlisted Andy to assist with producing their third studio album, Super Critical, which finally saw release last fall. And frankly, it was a match made in heaven.

The Ting Tings were looking for a different sound, and Andy comes armed with a deep love and admiration for the music of David Bowie and Chic, among others. And so they produced a wonderful little dance album of nine tracks that remind you of why you fell in love with the band when they debuted in 2007.

Now, Super Critical is not the same lightning bolt of glossy electropop that is debut album We Started Nothing. But the smooth funky tracks like “Wrong Club” and “Do It Again” make equally good use of Katie White’s alluring vocals and Jules De Martino’s ability to strike a perfect note on almost any instrument. The sound fits them very well, and Katie’s upbeat, kinetic voice and Jules’ beats make for a perfect dance record.

In a press release, Katie said of the track “Wrong Club,” “It’s about what happened to nightclubs that made them not sexy, how the tempo became so fast that nobody moves any more, they just jerk, its gesture not rhythm. We wanted to make a song that felt exactly like the opposite of that. It’s very Ting Tings to do a sad song with uplifting music. That’s just who we are.”

The Ting Tings have launched a tour in support of Super Critical, and they visit the 9:30 Club on Saturday, April 11 in an early show. Take our word for it, this is going to be a great show.

Brooklyn soul duo Kaneholler open for the Ting Tings.

The Ting Tings
w/ Kaneholler
9:30 Club
Saturday, April 11
Doors @6pm
$25
All ages

Don’t Miss: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club, 4/28/15

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Spandau Ballet (Photo by Scarlet Page)

They are the most significant band never to perform in Washington, DC.

But against the odds, they are about to rectify that situation in what could be the concert of the year. I say against the odds because the five members of Spandau Ballet notoriously split after a falling out with band leader Gary Kemp for decades, last touring North America in 1983.

Last year, the reunited Spandau Ballet hit their first shows on the U.S. west coast after their hiatus, and this month, they are returning to tour the east coast. The tour includes a stop at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, April 28, and in a video message from London on March 27, lead singer Tony Hadley made it clear, saying on the 9:30 Facebook page: “It’s the first time we’ve ever played in Washington!”

But the most significant band never to perform in DC? Really, Mickey?

Well, yes, I think so. Spandau Ballet came together in 1978 during a tumultuous time in London as the poster band for the New Romantic movement, a group of club savants who valued sexy sophistication and optimism as an antidote to the grit and pessimism of some of the punk bands at the time. The cultural movement and resulting music genre had its roots in the glam rock of David Bowie and Roxy Music, and its flagship bands came to embrace smart suits and synthesizers.

Spandau Ballet started out as the house band for Ground Zero of this movement, The Blitz Club, run by Steve Strange. They quickly got to work on powerful dance albums, the first two of which were produced by Richard James Burgess, who is now a DC-area resident who has taught at the Annapolis Music School and The Omega Studios’ School of Applied Recording Arts and Sciences in addition to serving as director of marketing at Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution.

Of course, Spandau Ballet are most famous in the United States for their third album, True, which produced two U.S. top 40 hits in 1983—“True” (#4) and “Gold” (#27). Here are Spandau Ballet performing “True” on Jimmy Kimmel Live in November 2014:

After years apart, the band reunited in 2009, and I flew to Glasgow to see them at S.E.C.C. on Oct. 27, 2009. They were in fine form and high spirits, and they easily lived up to the hype generated by the legacy of their original six studio albums and resulting cultural dominance. Spandau Ballet are every bit as worth seeing in concert as their friendly rivals Duran Duran, with whom they share the ideals and banner of the New Romantics.

Spandau Ballet’s current world tour is inspired in part by a documentary covering their career and reunion, Soul Boys of the Western World. As the title of this post says, don’t miss this show! (An opening act has yet to be confirmed, but with any luck, we may get DJ Rusty Egan, the world-famous Blitz DJ and drummer for the band Visage, who has been supporting them in Europe recently.)

Spandau Ballet
9:30 Club
Tuesday, April 28
Doors @7pm
$45 (VIP packages, $95/$200)
All ages