Hadley, Norman & Keeble

An Evening of Gold

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After a decade apart, Spandau Ballet stalwarts frontman Tony Hadley, saxophonist Steve Norman, and drummer John Keeble reunited, not so much to relive their past glory, but to reinvent it. The Kemp-free unit, buttressed by a quintet of talented pick-up players, set about remaking their New Romantic sound not merely for contemporary audiences, but for the ages. A series of live shows followed, culminating at London's Forum in October, 2002, which was filmed for DVD and now CD release. Right from the opening number, a swaggering version of Spandau's 1980 debut hit, "To Cut a Long Story Short," it's clear the trio were venturing far from the simplicity of their previous incarnation, to grasp a complexity unimaginable in their heyday. Refusing to be tied to the rather unsophisticated synth stylings of the past, the new arrangements layer on prominent rocking guitar, smoky sax, and keyboards that run the gamut from pomp rock to classical to jazz and back again. "Highly Strung" is entirely reimagined as arena pop/rock, both "Communication" and "Chant No. 1" emerge as funk-rock monsters, "Gold" shimmers between torch song glory and rock majesty, while "Lifeline" throws a rope to the early '70s. The group's own songs sound magnificent, but arguably it's the covers that most impress. The band's rousing take on "Hey Jealousy" leaves the Gin Blossoms' original deep in the drink, while an emotive and powerful version of Duran Duran's "Save a Prayer" is a loving epistle to their fellow New Romantic travelers. A phenomenal show by any measure, and even those who thought little of the group at the time, will need to rethink their opinion now.

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