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Live from the NEC

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Album Review

Spandau Ballet were nearing the end of their time as a commercial force when this 74-minute concert documentary was filmed in Birmingham on December 16 and 17 in 1986. However, they were still packing the seats in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd on this well-shot movie, directed by one of the most prominent figures in music documentary-making (Geoff Wonfor, most famous for directing The Beatles Anthology series). It's a straightforward record of a flashy mid-'80s hit pop band in concert, with plenty of shadowy, shifting colored lighting and much slick posing by the fashionably dressed on-stage players. The 13-song set contains a number of their biggest hit singles, including "True," "Gold," "Through the Barricades," "Fight for Ourselves," "Chant No. 1," "To Cut a Long Story Short," and "Lifeline." Augmenting the five-man lineup are keyboardist/singer Toby Chapman and backing singers Gillian O'Donovan and Susie O'List, contributing to the sense of a production that's slightly grandiose without being spectacularly big-budget. The DVD's a widescreen presentation with remixed and digitally remastered 5.1 sound, and adds a full 40 minutes of footage from the band's music videos, including a segment on the making of the "Fight for Ourselves" clip. Also offered on the DVD is a good-humored, fairly informative commentary track by guitarist/songwriter Gary Kemp and bassist Martin Kemp, in which they discuss the show, the songs, and some side topics like their affection for punk. Funniest line in the commentary track: "There may be a break in the proceedings now for [lead singer] Tony [Hadley] to say 'all right,'" it warns as an early number comes to an end. In the onscreen footage, Hadley then says "thank you," to which the commentary counters without skipping a beat: "No, that was his other line!"

Biography

Formed: November, 1979 in Islington, London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As one of the leading New Romantic bands, Spandau Ballet racked up a number of British hits -- as well as one Top Ten American hit, "True" -- during the early '80s, becoming one of the most successful groups to emerge during the new wave. The only other new romantic band to enjoy greater commercial success was Duran Duran, yet Spandau Ballet was there first, scoring three Top Ten hit singles during 1981 with their synthesized dance-pop. By 1983, the London-based quintet had shed its Roxy Music-inspired...
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Live from the NEC, Spandau Ballet
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