It was a case of déjà vu as I made my way to the iconic Bendigo Hotel on April Fool’s Day, the last gig I reviewed pre Covid was Among The Restless and here I was the first gig back checking out these local Melbourne lads again. Launching their new single Wastecase. I was certainly looking forward to some live music and seeing how the boys have grown in the past 12 months. Releasing music during the lockdown was no easy feat but Among The Restless have done this twice with two killer singles that have been extremely well received. Someone Else and Without You will have you instantly singing along, just good honest rock music with a twist of young musical blood pulsing though them. You can find them on all good streaming services, I recommend you give them a listen.
Cosa Nostra got the night started off right, another Melbourne outfit that is no bullshit rock and roll that will have your head banging from the first note. Headed up with Tony on vocals, he set the tone as he laid back and found his groove, his gravelly voice ripping out the tunes as Juz on lead and Ads on bass fill all the gaps. Rounding out this foursome is Rick on the drums, a hard hitter that complements the heaviness of their music. Josh from Among The Restless even made an appearance during Locked Forever belting it out on guitar while Tony sang through a megaphone which added a great depth to the song. They pumped out a 45-minute set as the crowd started filing in, drawn by the rawness of their sound. Pub rock at its finest, Cosa Nostra always put on a great show and are a worthy addition to any lineup.
Red Peril filled the next slot as they opened their set with Do You Feel Like A Man,
Music venues do not come any better than The Forum Melbourne, it is steeped with nostalgia and sets quite a fairy-tale feel as you descend towards the stage. I love coming to shows here and hearing the comments from the performers I think they love it too. Tonight it is New Romantic royalty Tony Hadley, of course, we all know him as the former frontman for world-famous Spandau Ballet but this evening he is here flying solo. Giving us a front-row seat to his new album Talking To The Moon and his back catalogue of hits while with Spandau Ballet.
I hit the age demographic square on the jaw and was pleased to be amongst like-minded souls ready for a night of eighties infused tunes and a trip down memory lane. While I think many had their feet firmly stuck in the eighties it made for some very interesting people watching, but when I caught sight of a dynamic duo rocking a double man bag I was quickly brought back to 2020.
Gold Coast youngster Chloe Styler opened the night’s proceedings, she has been on tour with Tony across Australia and was very gracious for the opportunity. Dressed in the prettiest of pink dresses she was accompanied by another guitarist/backing vocalist and they got straight to business. Giving us a 45 minute set of lovely tunes. Chloe’s voice was quite unique and had a memorable tone that everyone enjoyed. Her guitar playing was well suited to her sound and it came as no surprise when she said she had been brought up on music at home from a young age. Her cover of Landslide was a lovely addition to her set and she certainly warmed up the crowd ready for the main attraction.
Kicking the night off with one of my favourite Spandau Ballet song, To Cut A Story Short, who can forget the tartan infused film clip from 1980, thankfully there was not a kilt in sight tonight, just a dapper Tony Hadley sporting a suit and looking a million dollars. Highly Strung then Killer Blow from the new album was up next If you are yet to give Talking To The Moon a spin, what are you waiting for?! It is a brilliant album and you will be well impressed. Tony still holding the long notes with ease, it was such a pleasure to watch him in action, making everything look so easy. He worked the stage like the professional he is, getting the banter/singing ratio just right. Then jumped into a winning trifecta of Only When You leave, Round and Round and I’ll Fly For You, giving all the Spandau Ballet fans something to scream about. The dance floor was full of eighties tragics cutting moves like they did way back when, if it was their only night out for the year they were making the most of it.
The lighting was of the highest standard as was the sound, the two came together to make the perfect setting for Through The Barricades, it is Tony’s favourite song to sing and he had a straight-up double jack to accompany him until percussionist extraordinaire Lily Gonzalez jumped front and centre to sing. Talk about chills! They flew to celestial heights spotlighted in white looking angelic as they sang with such purpose and gave this beautiful song the recognition it deserved. Tony’s voice is like chocolate syrup, rich and smooth, proving that he still has what it takes so many years after the inception of Spandau Ballet. Another great addition from the new album was Tonight Belongs To Us, there was so much to love about this whole set. So many terrific songs on the setlist and with Queen currently in Australia we were treated to a fabulous version of Somebody To Love getting the crowd up and about bringing their singing voices to the front.
Tony’s band were brilliant but I feel I didn’t not give them the attention they deserved, but Mr Hadley held my gaze for the entire show, he was suave, sophisticated, and that voice like velvet….. anyway, kudos to all on stage you made the show what it was with your sensational musicianship, thank you. Instinction, Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure One) and the one that got all the hands in the air True. Arms swaying from side to side, Tony’s delivery was absolutely faultless, it is a lovers song and I think the couple next to me stepped back in time to their local Blue Light Disco. I get a cheeky snog, but they were next level, get a room next time! True really was beautiful and the show could easily have ended there, our singing voices were exhausted, but lucky for the packed house, Tony had a few left. LifelIne had the floor bouncing, then with no encore it was straight into the jewel in the crown, GOLD! The lighting turned a stunning liquid amber as Tony belted it out with gusto the floor was pounding, the fans taking over the vocals “YOU ARE GOLD!! ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOUR SOUL, YOU’VE GOT THE POWER TO KNOW, YOURE INDESTRUCTIBLE”. Such pertinent lyrics in today’s day and age, remember people always believe in yourself. Tony left looking on with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. He struck a pose looking quite ‘James Bond’ on a few occasions, maybe there is something in that, can you act Tony?!
After the final bows were taken to rapturous applause the fans streamed out of The Forum all enjoying that step back in time for one night, feeling young and free in the music of their youth. There was so much to love above tonight’s show, Tony Hadley far exceeded my expectations, and I am walking away one very happy lady. Do the eighties songs still cut it today, you bet your Sony walkman they do!