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

SPANDAU BALLET live in Italy
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: Voltheque @ Philadelphia, Pa., TBA

voltheque

Circa 1978 or so, like-minded musicians across England made a stand and decided they would chart their own future — and in so doing embraced an attitude not shared by many of their contemporaries.

Their future was one of love, self-determination and optimism. It was a message that was counter-intuitive to some of the youth culture of the time, but these bands — these New Romantics — believed in themselves, and they made a powerful statement about life and love. This scene gave birth to bands we came to love in the United States — bands like Duran Duran and Culture Club.

Voltheque, a collective of young adults from Philadelphia, Pa., weren’t even alive when this happened. But they share a kinship nonetheless. Anchored by Marko Shinko and Simone Strange, Voltheque have proven themselves as musically savvy as any of their new romantic counterparts in the United Kingdom, who were facing economic strangulation and limited opportunities more than 35 years ago.

You see, many of their U.K. inspirations were driven by a desire for a better life and the thrush of creativity that came with the newfound affordability of synthesizers, still a relatively young technology. And in Philadelphia, the kids are good and happy people who also embrace technology and like to dance — and know how to make music by which to dance.

And so it is in the strongest possible terms that I recommend to you Voltheque, a group of young musicians with cool hair who sound really damn great together. They have to date produced two self-released indie albums available via Bandcamp at https://v0ltheque.bandcamp.com, which are completely worth checking out — particularly with the fantastic debut album, Voltheque, and its songs like “Dialogue,” “Heart Attack” and (ahem) “Der Sexer Roboter” (which I’ll confess is all kinds of amazing).

And although they have a penchant to get a bit artsy poetic at times, you’ll never hear me complain about such a thing when they produce lush results like “The Bells” on their second album, I’ve Known All Along. (I have after all been kicked out of many the same drinking establishments between Baltimore, Md., and Newark, Del., as Edgar Allan Poe… 😉 )

Anyway, these ladies and gents are amazing, and most certainly deserve your attention. Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/Voltheque, and catch them in their next show, which may happen as soon as June in Philadelphia. They are a refreshing antidote to many other bands that may have more angst but less vision.

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

Spandau-Ballet-by-Scarlet-Page
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

Music Park: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz — 3/8/15

Midge Ure
Midge Ure performs a solo acoustic show at Iridium in New York City on Feb. 27, 2015.

When Midge Ure reunited with the other three members of Ultravox in 2008, the band embarked on discussions to tour. To determine the reunion tour setlist, the four band members each voted their preference from a list of potential songs, and those songs that received four votes would definitely be part of the set.

As it turns out only four of those potential songs received four votes. One of those songs, the archly lush and mournful “Lament” also landed on Midge Ure’s solo setlist Sunday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Md., in the last stop of a tour in support of his 2014 album Fragile.

Although Ultravox attempted to go about its business in as democratic a fashion as possible, Midge faced no such considerations on this tour. He remarkably undertook the U.S. portion of the Fragile tour completely on his own — without any roadies, management or other tour support. He traveled without any support whatsoever, bringing only a single guitar onto stage to powerfully perform more than 20 songs to audiences like that of the supper club, which nearly managed to sell out all of its dining tables to the eloquent Scot.

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Interview: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 3/8/15

midgeure
Midge Ure (Photo by Andy Siddens)

Editor’s Note: Midge Ure has announced his return to Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016! (Tickets are available online.)

I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with a great Scotsman, singer-songwriter Midge Ure, best known in the United States as the frontman of Ultravox in the 1980s. Midge is in the midst of a solo acoustic tour at the moment, and he stops by the DC metro area to perform at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday, March 8. Tickets are available online and at the door.

Midge was quite generous with his time and shared his perspectives on touring in America, writing hit songs and his history with Ultravox as well as his late friend Steve Strange, his bandmate in Visage. (This may be a lengthy interview, but there was so much wisdom in so many of his answers that I couldn’t bear to cut it!)

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