Tony Hadley fronted the pop group Spandau Ballet in the '80s, spawning such hits as "True." The song had a life of its own, being used in such generational movies like Sixteen Candles and later sampled by PM Dawn in the '90s. Hadley crosses the pond with an appearance at Market Days this week.
Windy City Times: Hi, Tony. You are Skyping from Spain right now?
Tony Hadley: Yes, I am visiting north of Mallorca. It's beautiful but pitch black. It is a quarter moon with the mountains around me. I've got a glass of wine.
WCT: Nice. What part of the country do you live in?
TH: We live in England. My family and I just moved out of London to Buckinghamshire. It is absolutely beautiful and in the country. We just decided we wanted the green fields of cows and sheep. I moved over the weekend then went on holiday the following Monday.
WCT: Taking a break before leaving for the United States soon…
TH: I can't wait. This is the first time for me since Spandau Ballet in 1985. For some reason it has been very difficult to get into the States. An American agent saw us in Europe and wanted to get us over there. It's funny because Spandau Ballet has more of a cult following in America rather than a mainstream band. We want to come over to the States and prove ourselves. We are doing a handful of shows then come back next year and do 20 or 30 shows. We want to build up a reputation of a great live band in America. There are lots of great musicians there but we have something to offer, too. Our fingers are crossed and I am looking forward to it.
WCT: Thousands of people come to Market Days so it's a big crowd for you, I am sure.
TH: Brilliant! We just did a festival in Scotland with 20,000 people so that was pretty cool. To be honest it doesn't matter to me if it's 300 or 300,000 people. I just like playing live. The Tony Hadley band has been together for a long time. Our newest band member Richie Barrett is our guitarist and been with us 13 years. This is an established band and out first opportunity to play there. My auntie lives in Chicago so I hope she is coming to the show. I must give her a call.
WCT: Are playing songs from you jazz album at this show?
TH: No, I am not. The swing album, Passing Strangers, came out a few years ago and tied in quite nicely with when I was performing Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago at the West End. For this show it will be straight ahead pop rock so pretty loud. I am not sure of people are expecting a teen '80s band to arrive. It is not like that at all. We usually have percussion but this is a core band of five that are coming over. We will do songs that were hits in America such as "True" and "Gold." There might be one song from the new album a rocker called "Imagination." Just songs that we love to do that hopefully people over there will connect with.
WCT: You have a new album that is coming out this year, right?
TH: No, next year; I am a little behind on it. It will be the first album that written by me. It will be 12 tracks that are classic pop rock. A few weeks ago I was in Miami for a private show and I was introduced to Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees. We are going to write together so I have to factor that in as well. How bloody brilliant is that? He's a fantastic guy.
WCT: Do you want to perform in more musicals for the future?
TH: You know they offered me a year tour and I could do as little or as much as I wanted. I did three months at the West End. It was great fun and incredibly challenging. I loved it but I have been there and done that. I have been offered other plays and musical theatre gigs but I turned them down. If I were to do it again I would only do it if I were offered Broadway in New York. If they asked me then I would be on the first plane. That would be an amazing opportunity. If you are asking me if I want to be a theatre person the answer is no though. I prefer to appear at different venues around the world. It is fun for me. This thing in Chicago is a big festival, right?
WCT: Yes, it is a huge gay street festival. You are playing right before Gloria Gaynor.
TH: Really? I know Gloria, the old bird. [Both laugh.] She's a good lass and a lovely woman.
WCT: What are you wearing? A suit will be really hot!
TH: It's hot in America at the moment?
WCT: Yes. It has been blazing in Chicago.
TH: People ask me if I wear all the '80s get-ups. I say, "No, I bloody well don't!" I adopted a Robert Palmer or Tony Bennett style to my wardrobe. They always look so cool. So I will be wearing a classic suit. I will be absolutely sweaty and horrible by the end of that. But who cares anyway? We are just excited about getting there and playing. We are going to come there, have a good time and entertain people. That is what it is all about.
WCT: I will definitely meet you face to face.
TH: Come have a beer and see you there, mate. Thanks for phoning. Cheers!
For more from Hadley visit www.tonyhadley.com and see him live and in person Sunday, Aug. 14, 6 p.m. at the Rivers Casino Stage on Halsted Street.