Hong Kong stages '80s revival with gigs by Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears, and more
The ’80s are back in Hong Kong – or have they only just arrived?
How else can one explain upcoming concerts by Spandau Ballet – making their Hong Kong debut – Tears for Fears, Elton John and, until it was cancelled, Alison Moyet? Not to mention Bon Jovi, who are staging their own mini-’80s revival in Macau.
Perhaps Hong Kong was so wrapped up in Canto-pop the dawn of the MTV era passed the city by. The 1980s for Hong Kong was, after all, the era when the likes of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, Alan Tam Wing-lun, Sandy Lam Yik-lin and Anita Mui Yim-fong would regularly fill the Hong Kong Coliseum.
Spandau Ballet, led by suave baritone Tony Hadley, were among the most successful of the New Romantics. Before they switched to suits and ties, the London lads were the epitome of the movement’s signature androgynous look, incorporating baggy shirts with shawls draped over the shoulder, headbands and plenty of make-up. They also had a habit of lodging their guitars under their armpits. Spandau burst into the British charts in 1980 with the fast-paced electronic pop of To Cut a Long Story Short.
Their sound matured and the group had their first No 1 three years later with the ballad True, their most popular US release. This was followed by the No 2 single Gold. Those and other, later, songs have done well to stand the test of time.
The band split up in 1990 and brothers Martin and Gary Kemp detoured into acting, playing mobster brothers in movie The Krays, among other roles. The group re-formed in 2009, having by then grown into their baggy clothing, and put out a comeback album of largely reworked material.
Spandau Ballet – September 25, AsiaWorld-Arena, Lantau
Tears for Fears started out as a bleak, men-in-black indie synth-rock band but went on to become a huge global mainstream act. The British duo, comprising Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, had their first taste of success in 1982 with the brooding, moody Mad World.
Later hits included the infinitely more upbeat Everybody Wants to Rule the World – which won a Brit Award for best single – and Sergeant Pepper-inspired Sowing the Seeds of Love.
The duo parted ways in 1991 over “musical differences”, with Orzabal keeping the group’s name alive. In 2000, they met up again and the result was a new album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending.
Amid anxieties over press freedom in Hong Kong, Tears for Fears may have been the first name on organisers’ minds when it was time to booking their evening’s entertainment.
Tears For Fears – October 10, FCC Charity Ball (open to non-members), HK Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai
Leading the charge should have been Alison Moyet, who had a September 13 date at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. The gig was cancelled this week, however, due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Moyet became an overnight sensation in Britain in 1982 after placing a magazine ad touting her soulful, bluesy vocals. Former Depeche Mode songwriter Vince Clarke gave her a call and the result was Yazoo. The duo were best known for poppy hits such as Only You and Don’t Go, from the album Upstairs at Eric’s.
They parted ways as quickly as they arrived, and Clarke formed another chart-topping band, Erasure. Moyet went on to release a successful solo album, Alf, which spawned the hits All Cried Out and Invisible. She has continued to release albums over the years but never reached the dizzying heights of her ’80s success.
American rockers Bon Jovi, meanwhile, will take their ’80s party to Macau for two nights at the Venetian – the first gig clashing with Spandau Ballet. Known for their big hair and equally big stadium anthems, the band’s most successful hits sprang from the 1986 album Slippery When Wet, including Livin’ on a Prayer, Wanted Dead or Alive and You Give Love a Bad Name.
The band, headed by the charismatic Jon Bon Jovi, seem fated to miss Hong Kong. In 1993 – before the Convention Centre, AsiaWorld-Arena and Kitec existed – Bon Jovi were booked to play at Ocean Park. Typhoon Dot blew in instead, and the rockers cancelled. Another case of “unforeseen circumstances”.
Bon Jovi – September 25 and 26, The Venetian Macao
In November, old favourite Elton John returns on his All the Hits Tour – just days before the Clockenflap music festival kicks off. The veteran piano man has played in the city numerous times and was last here in 2012. John was a star of the ’70s and had almost been written off as a has-been by the ’80s, but remaind a mainstay of the charts over the ’90s and beyond. His biggest singles from the ’80s were Sad Songs Say So Much and Nikita.
Elton John – November 24, HK Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai
It’s probably only a matter of time before ABC, The Communards, Culture Club, Go West, Heaven 17, Howard Jones, The Human League (who made their city debut in 2011), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Soft Cell, Tubeway Army, Ultravox, and Visage head our way.