LITTLE stops ex Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman from smiling. Oozing charisma by the bucketload, he was born to perform on stage – musical instrument in hand – and bring joy to those who are fortunate enough to swim in his orbit.
Despite a tortuous journey to Wokingham’s Whitty Theatre on Friday night (September 30) – a trip involving a smoking car and a fire engine – this is exactly what the charming (and still incredibly sexy) Norman achieved. Joy all round.
Supported by his excellent band The Sleevz, he delivered a set that sent the suburban audience home to their biscuits and tea more than happy. For many, it represented a welcome escape from the horrors of the current (bloody Putin, bloody politicians) and a two-hour return to their youth of the early 1980s when the New Romantics held sway.
The Wokingham date marked the start of a tour that will run throughout October, finishing in Lancaster on the 31st. Billed as the Journeys To Glory tour, it’s built around Spandau Ballet’s first album of the same name. Although 41 years old (even older in the case of track Confused which pre-dates Spandau), the music is as energising as it was back in 1981. Tracks such as To Cut A Long Story Short, the thumping Muscle Bound and the Freeze, still get the hips and feet a moving and a grooving. Even hips ground down by the passage of time.
Norman is as cheeky as he is talented – he’s an exceptional guitarist, vocalist and saxophonist. And it’s all rather endearing. You can’t help falling in love with him as in between songs he recalls stories from the past and recognises people from among the audience. It’s as if he’s in your own front room. It’s as if he’s playing just for you.
While Journeys To Glory is the tour’s focus, no Norman show would be complete without some of Spandau’s biggest hits – and he didn’t disappoint. Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On), True and Gold were expertly executed – his sax purring away like a Siamese cat looking forward to a date.
I Get Up, I Get Down was also expertly delivered.
With the effervescent Joe Bongo Becket (percussion), Smiley (drums), son Jaco Norman (love the tartan trousers), Luis Correia (guitar), and Sabrina Winter (backing vocals and an assortment of instruments) all providing marvellous support, this was a splendid opener to the tour.
Journeys To Glory should thrill those wishing to take themselves back to the 1980s – when New Romanticism rather than the Big Squeeze ruled the waves. Time to get those hips and feet a moving and a grooving.