An older New Romantic

RICHARD DOVE drops back into the Eighties with one of the era’s great singers

Anthony Patrick Hadley has an MBE and a voice from the Gods. He has forged a forty-year career in the skittish world of pop music and, by last night’s (5 May) showing, is still going strong.

At Folkestone’s Leas Cliff Hall, there is a large audience of a certain era. Some ladies have gone to a lot of trouble with fresh hair dos and posh outfits. They want to see their Tony. He has always sung ‘True’ and ‘Gold” just for them. He greets seemingly everyone from the stalls to the upper tier as he arrives on stage with a band who are clearly long term mates. He has an easy charm and a sharp suit. And then the voice. He opens with some 1976 Chuck Berry rock n roll and we are off on a journey through his career. It is now a stretch to see this burly 61-years old as a pioneer of the New Romantics. 

After plentiful name changes, Hadley co-founded Spandau Ballet in 1976. They had the image of rather effete posh boys from the start and their first single ‘To Cut a Long Story Short’ reached number five in the pop charts. 

Tony took us back to the days when just 18 years old he would regularly attend gigs at the legendary Hope & Anchor pub in Islington. He told us of his enduring love for The Damned and, blimey, launched into ‘New Rose’.  The New Romantic plays Punk. For tribal, obsessive NME readers this would have been unthinkable in those heady days but at this place and at this time it just seemed right. This man has been around and experienced extraordinary triumphs and setbacks. 

He follows this with ‘Confused’, a punk song sung like Spandau, he explains. His seven piece band have hit their stride with flamboyant percussion matched by understated guitar and keyboard flourishes.  Tony keeps us entertained between songs with vignettes from his career. He tells us his first solo album, with LA musicians, was a “massive mistake”.  He wanted to emulate Jon Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp by growing his hair long and pouring himself into Spandex. It did not work and the sharp suit triumphed. However, he did deliver a song from the album ‘State of Play’, which clearly resonated with many in the audience. A new song, ‘Because of You’, recorded during lockdown has the potential to become a new Hadley classic. But when would we get to ‘True’ and ‘Gold’? 

We had a gentle interlude perched on stools with a Jim Croce song and even some jazz as he recalled a gig at Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham. He told us of his love for Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones and Ella Fitzgerald.  

Many in the audience were shouting ‘Gold’ but he kept us waiting with a bit of Sinatra and then the piano struck up a familiar riff and we were singing.  “Huh huh huh hu-uh huh.  I know this much is true.” We all sailed back close on forty years – Top of the Pops with T. Blackburn presiding.

Tony told us he last played the Leas Cliff Hall around twenty years ago. Let’s hope he is back soon as the dancing in the aisles got a little more frenzied. We had all been transported back and forwards across a momentous career. Cheers, Tony.