Gig Review: Martin Kemp DJ Set at Wylam Brewery, 26th May 2019

Spandau Ballet are having a bit of a quiet period at the moment. Following Tony Hadley’s departure, they did do some gigs with Ross William Wild as frontman, but it’s just been announced that he’s leaving the band, so…not sure when we’ll next get a Spandau tour, or who’ll be singing (Shapers of the ’80s have a rather bleak take on things here). However, it does mean that the individual members currently have free time to pursue their own projects – and in Martin Kemp’s case, that means touring up and down the UK with a hits-laden ‘Back to the ’80s’ DJ set! I am all about this kind of thing, so I bought tickets to the Newcastle event as soon as they went on sale.

The set was bookended by warmup and afterparty sets from the resident Wylam Brewery DJ, Tommy, so there were already some good ’80s tunes going when Geth and I walked into the venue. The main set didn’t start until ninety minutes after doors, so I had plenty of time to settle in and drink lots of Fentimans Rose Lemonade.

Martin Kemp DJ set
Martin Kemp, getting the party started.

Once the set did get going, it was pretty much a non-stop singalong and a great night out! The music tended towards ‘cheesy ’80s’ rather than ‘synthy ’80s’, but I knew every word (unlike some of the people there who were clearly a bit older than me and should have been able to remember the music properly – sort it out and learn the second half of the When Will I Be Famous chorus!) and I had a hoarse voice and sore feet by the end of the night.

As was predicted and welcome, Martin finished with Spandau Ballet’s Gold. Well, not quite, as we then got a bonus track: the Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). I love the Proclaimers and consider I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) to be the unofficial Scottish national anthem (it’s a far better choice than the problematic Flower Of Scotland and the dirge-like Scotland The Brave). However, I can’t stand it being sung by a roomful of drunk people because EVERYBODY gets it wrong – there is no ‘da da la da’ chant after the first chorus, it just goes straight into the second verse, but everybody starts singing the ‘da da la da’ bit anyway and it DRIVES ME UP THE WALL. When it was played on Sunday night, even Martin got it wrong! You’d think that if he finishes with that song every time he does a DJ set, he’d get it right!

Anyway, apart from people not having done their ’80s singalong homework, it was the best night out I’d had all year. I’d been worried that my singing-along-and-dancing days were over after I quit drinking (I actually covered this subject in one of the poems I performed last Wednesday, as it’s really been playing on my mind), as I was always so self-conscious about it without a drink in me. However, I really felt able to let go on Sunday, so I’m feeling a bit more positive about future nights out now. The power of ’80s pop!

Martin Kemp is playing Wylam Brewery again on the 31st of October, so I think that might be my Hallowe’en night out sorted for this year!

Updated Band Aid baby bucket list progress: song artists 5/37 (13.5%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 7/44 (15.9%).

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