Spandau Ballet has — as the lyrics of their signature hit, “True,” attest — “come back again.”
A full 28 years since their last U.S. performance, the British New Romantic pioneers took the stage at Austin’s Vulcan Gas Co. Wednesday night as part of the annual South by Southwest festival, delighting the audience with an 11-song set including hits “Gold” and, of course, “True.”
Spandau Ballet was not only in town to revisit an American stage — the band was also promoting its upcoming documentary, “Soul Boys of the Western World,” which includes archival footage of the group from its early days in the ’80s (the band called it quits in 1990 before reuniting in 2009; the band last played the U.S. in 1986). The film was screened earlier in the afternoon, building considerable anticipation for Spandau’s evening performance.
The band also visited Yahoo’s Brazos Hall earlier in the day for an exclusive interview and unplugged performance of the hit that put them on the modern rock map forevermore. Spandau’s lead singer, Tony Hadley, who brought an unmistakable vibe to “True” with his earnest vocals said of the song and its effect on the group’s success: “It’s just the way it goes. It was a massive, massive song that propelled us from being kind of like a cult-y band on a club level, to worldwide superstardom. All of a sudden we started playing arenas and living a real kind of pop star extravagant lifestyle. Thanks for ‘True’!”
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The song’s “massiveness” has been immortalized well beyond the airwaves over the past few decades, accumulating an impressive list of pop-culture inclusions. “True” has been sampled and/or covered by artists ranging from P.M. Dawn to Paul Anka, and has popped up on film and TV soundtracks.
When asked for their favorite pop-culture reference, Spandau’s Martin and Gary Kemp agreed on a 2009 episode of “Modern Family,” which not only tapped “True” but name-checked some of the bandmembers as well. “That’s great geeky writing,” they enthused.