Everything that can be said on the subject of bands reforminghas been said. The notion of reforming stems from either wanting torekindle an old flame or from a desire to cash in when the opportunityarises. Spandau Ballet will no doubt be able to turn a blind eye tothe economic crisis from now on, but it’s also obvious that, on Once More, they’re enjoying themselves.
Promotional campaigns for the album capture the mood perfectly.Black-and-white film shows the band retiring to the studio; with warmsmiles and in smart attire, they belt out those classics just for the fun ofit, regardless of the large cheque winging its way in their direction.
Be it pretense or not, there’s somethingirresistibly endearing about the thought of this ’80s institution armin arm once more. Stripped-downrenditions of True and Through The Barricades promote this image ofthe band being relatively talented musicians rather than pretty facesselling the sound. And that somewhat achieves manager Steve Dagger’sdeclaration that this reunion was “not just a nostalgic re-run of theold, but a fresh slant on what Spandau Ballet are all about.” Tablesare certainly beginning to turn.
Any potential dismissal of prejudice towards this reformationultimately has to come from the only newly written song on the record:the title track. And whilst Once More is no Patience, there’s nodesperate attempt to modernise a tried and testedformula that won the band its fans in the first place. It’s charming. Only Take That and arguably, The Verve‘scomeback singles have drawn in a new herd of fans. Once More won’tachieve that, but it will maintain the adoration of those with even theslightest of flame still burning after all these years.
Nineteen years since simmering out, as Dagger once again perfectlyputs it: “Now they are older, fatter, poorer – there’s everyreason to see if the magic still works.” And for all the setbacks thatcome from an album that sounds as if it was recorded in a matter ofhours, like some kind of live session for Radio 2, it captures the atmosphere of soulfulness, the dark, smooth demeanor so ruthlesslyassociated with Spandau Ballet in the ’80s. It’s this that is the winning card on OnceMore, the clincher in drawing the fans back into far-from-unknownterritory.
The longevity of this reformation will rely verymuch on the success of Once More. The title in itselfsuggests that the band were persuaded into coming together for oneextra session. But it also leaves room for subsequent releases -consider that it hasn’t been called Last Ever or Period.
But essentially, whilst this isn’t some avant garde explorationinto the unknown from a previously established pop act, that was neveron the cards. Once More isn’t a great album, but it does contain somegreat songs from a band that deserve another crack at the charts. Allit lacks is quantity and quality of original material. Perhapsthat’s next on the agenda.