I confess I am not much of Spandau Ballet fan, whose success in the US was limited to their hit, True. I do, however, think Chant No. 1 has held up fairly well and is a decent party track. I also confess to liking Gold, not in spite of, but precisely because of its pretentious over-the-top campy pseudo melodrama. I thought that the Spandau Ballet book, for the US anyways, had been pretty much closed with the exception of appearances on soundracks to films referencing the 80s and the occasional music sample (along with pretty much all English synthpop bands from that era). So imagine how stunned I was when I found out that the lead singer was performing, for free, at Market Days, a gay street festival in Chicago, that I was attending. To give you a sense of how awkward his inclusion, consider the other headlining acts; Lisa Lisa, Gloria Gaynor and Darren Criss, from the television show, Glee. These are the kind of artists you’d expect to perform for free at a gay street festival. Would this crowd know who the hell he was (or Spandau Ballet for that matter)? Would they care? Would his performance be…GOLD!?
I got an answer when I arrived at the stage 5 minutes before showtime and became painfully aware that I was one of the only people there. Darren Criss had performed mere hours before and it was so packed the crowd overflowed onto street causing foot traffic to come a grinding halt. A security guard approached me and the other gaggle of “fans” and asked if we wanted to go with him to gain access to the stage area in front of the barracade. Sadly the people waiting didn’t know who he was and I had to explain that it was Tom Hadley (blank stares), the lead singer of Spandau Ballet (blank stares), the band that sung the song True (blank stares), which is the song that was sampled by PM Dawn (Ooh).
Being up front gave me the opportunity to see the setlist and i was horrified to see the list of covers he was going to perform (Killers, Foo Fighters, U2 and Queen?!) and only 4 Spandau Ballet songs (True, Gold, Chant No. 1, Only When You Leave). As Mr. Hadley took the stage, a crowd finally began to form and grow, but never enough to fill the area (or block traffic) and I had plenty of space in front to move around (and even do jumping jacks if I had wanted to). His presence and vocals were good, although I couldn’t help but feel that I was being cheated into listening to cover after cover, as if it was his own, even if it was for free. To me, it was kind of like seeing a coverband perform at a state fair. Highlights for the crowd included a sing-along performance of True, and his performance of Duran Duran‘s Rio, which surpringly seemed to have had a better reception than any of his original material. Sadly, due to time, he chose to cut Chant No. 1 from his set. I personally think there were plenty of covers more deserving of the axe. Was the concert GOLD!? Obviously not, but then again, I didn’t have high expectations going into it and it was was free.