A documentary about Spandau Ballet, who were one of the biggest pop groups of the 1980s and a defining act of the New Romantic scene.A documentary about Spandau Ballet, who were one of the biggest pop groups of the 1980s and a defining act of the New Romantic scene.A documentary about Spandau Ballet, who were one of the biggest pop groups of the 1980s and a defining act of the New Romantic scene.
In Islington, North London, at the height of the glam/punk rock era, four boys, including two brothers, came together to form their own band, Spandau Ballet, who , influenced by the soul/blues music they had grown up on, developed their own distinctive style, in music and fashion, that came to be known as the New Romantic trend. They notched up a string of chart successes throughout the 1980s, starting with the enigmatic To Cut a Long Story Short, all the way to their seminal 1983 chart hit and enduring favourite True. From here, they ascended on a kaleidoscopic rise to the top, before internal disputes and dwindling relevance split them apart and took them in other directions.
Many years on, and the relevance of the top musical groups who dominated the 80s music scene is still in evidence today, with 80s nostalgia at quite a remarkable height. Spandau Ballet, the subject of this in depth musical autobiography, even enjoyed a sold out tour last year, which is testament to their enduring popularity, among older, more seasoned fans and new discoverers of their work. While their own recollections and evaluations of their cultural footprint are no doubt from the horse's mouth, it's hard not to think of all those outside the band's dynamic, who would have been witness to their success (record producers, music journalists, DJs, etc., of the time) which this chooses to ignore, instead concentrating solely on the guys in the bad, delivering voiceovers describing their own wild, hedonistic adventures at the time.
This doesn't detract from the film as such, because the boys own recollections are, in themselves, perfectly fun enough, re-living the height of their fame with all the energy and gusto as if they were really re-living them again right now, injecting the proceedings with enough wild distraction to keep you glued. It would just have been nice to have heard some outside contributions from time to time, instead of all just feeling like some big, personal love in that newcomers to SB just wouldn't be able to take in, and that, at worst, could smack a little of self indulgence. Nudging over the hour and a half mark a little bit, and just summarily glossing over some of the group's post band hurdles (i.e. Martin's brain tumour, the court battle for song royalties), it's a high energy thrill ride for the band and their lovers, without some personal touches that could have made it shine for an outside heart. ***
- Aug 22, 2015