Tony Hadley, Peter Cox & Go West Derngate, Northampton. 21 January 2004.

Tickets for tonight’s ‘Hadley vs. Cox’ show were sold out shortly after this 46-date nationwide tour had been announced. Hadley and Cox, our intrepid pop veterans ‘reborn in the USA’ after last year’s ITV series of the same name, had decided to ‘hit the road’, this time back on home soil.

Tonight, they walked on stage to rapturous applause and the theme music to ‘The Persuaders’, another ITV-special of yesteryear, starring Tony (Curtis) and Roger (Moore).

As diehard fans, we’re hoping there’ll be lots of Go West stuff tonight. That said I think we’ve all realised we may well be disappointed on that particular one. As it turns out only 20% of the material from the mammoth 25-song set is what we really came to hear. But then who cares?

Starting together and clearly warming up the vocal chords for the long and winding road ahead, Peter and Tony deliver an upbeat cover of The Beatles’ ‘Drive my car’ with some panache. It’s then solo spot time for these singers. Song-writing partner, Richard Drummie joins the Go West frontman for two hits and the crowd take to their feet.

The crowd lap up the Spandau and Go West songs but there are plenty of surprises on the song front too. On only a couple of occasions, the choices don’t quite seem to fit the moment - the first set ends with a version of Thin Lizzy’s classic ‘The boys are back in town’ – nothing wrong with this but not a lot right about it either.

Hopefully not too many fans of the great late Robert Palmer are around for renditions of ‘Addicted to love’ and ‘Simply irresistible’ which are hopelessly misplaced at the end of the second set, the latter as an encore.

 

But tonight, the positives outweigh the negatives not least because these reborn stars have arrived with one of the best backing bands you are likely to find anywhere in the UK or the USA. But to be fair, there are some exceptionally good song choices here too.

Ry Cooder’s ‘Why don’t you try me tonight’ is the second great surprise of the night. Bad Company’s ‘Shooting star’ follows next. But my biggest shock is the identity of the band’s keyboard player and Musical Director, Phil Taylor, looking not a day older than as seen in his college days, a few years back!

Tony’s best performances are his favourite Spandau song and mine, ‘Only whe you leave’ and also ‘Through the barricades’. Tonight’s musical arrangements are carefully crafted and frequently inter-laced with some fine instrumental and backing vocal performances from the band notably on ‘We close our eyes’ and ‘Suspicious minds’.

So who wins in this so-called clash of the giants? Of course, Peter tips it for me. Yes, I’ve already nailed my colours to the mast. But his version of ‘Me and Mrs Jones’, as seen on TV, has us all thinking the song was written for him, not Billy Paul.

The audience love it. It all ends too soon. Catch this show if you can, in theatres across the UK right through until the end of March!!!!

Set list: First set: Boys of summer (P+T); Drive my car (P+T); Only when you leave (T solo); Walking in Memphis (T solo); Always on my mind (P solo); Don’t look down (P & R); Call me (P & R); True (T solo); Freefall (T solo); Why don’t you try me tonight (P + T + R); The boys are back in town (P + T + R)

Second set: Don’t know why (P solo); Faithful (P + R); Shooting star (P + T + R); You don’t know what it’s like (T solo); Suspicious minds (T + backing singer); Through the barricades (T solo); Me & Mrs Jones (P solo); We close our eyes (P + R); King of wishful thinking (P + R); Gold (T solo); That’s life (T solo); Addicted to love (P + T + R)

Encores: Papa was a rollin’ stone; Simply Irresistible (P + T + R)
 

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