The harder singer Tony Hadley worked during Spandau Ballet's concert Saturday at the Universal Amphitheatre, the sillier he seemed. And the looser he got, the more irritating he became--you felt a little embarrassed for him, as you might for a tipsy rich kid making a spectacle of himself at a college party.
This seems to be an inherent problem: Hadley looks like George Hamilton trying to play a rocker, and despite his energetic prancing and standard audience-stroking, there's something sour in his makeup. The other members of the English band--including chief songwriter/guitarist Gary Kemp and his bassist brother, Martin--don't add much warmth to the proceedings. Spandau is the quintessential poseur group--a Wham! without the musical craftsmanship, a Duran Duran without the high-tech glamour.
This was the minority view at the Amphitheatre, where Spandau drew a full house of screaming fans. The band also headlined Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre during the weekend, raising the obvious question: If Spandau has such a large and avid following, why did its last album, "Parade," stiff? Especially when it followed the group's Top 10 breakthrough, "True."
Anyway, the group played its light dance-rock and simpering ballads with competence if not a lot of conviction, and the crowd danced and swayed and seemed to approve. Why Spandau's shrill-sounding, starchy imitations of soul music and secondhand Roxy Music imagery should command any real loyalty is a tough question--almost as tough as why the Kemp brothers' pants are falling off in the poster they were selling in the lobby.