Review and gallery: An Audience With Martin Kemp, Robin 2, Bilston

It was around 30 years ago when I first saw Martin Kemp in the flesh. He was on stage in front of thousands of screaming teeny boppers. And I was one of them.

Review and gallery: An Audience With Martin Kemp, Robin 2, Bilston

Martin Kemp at the Robin 2 in Bilston

The Spandau Ballet bass player was the pop star pin-up of my childhood - just as he was to millions of other fans across the world.

Fast forward three decades and here we were again. A lot older, a bit more grown up and with plenty of memories of the good old ‘80s.

But this time it was up close and personal.

Martin took to the stage of Bilston’s Robin 2 for the last night of his An Audience With…intimate UK tour in which he shared his life story, from growing up in north London to fulfilling his dream of joining his brother’s band, enjoying worldwide success and his happy marriage to beloved wife Shirlie.

As funny stories go, he’s got plenty up his sleeve. Whether it be talking about Spandau's massive egos (they turned up to the Band Aid recording in a flash limo and apologised to the people of Ethiopia for not having time to tour there that year), the intense rivalry with Duran Duran on and off stage (both bands hired Learjets to ‘race’ to a studio recording and competed to drink the most at parties) or his first date with Shirlie (she’d taken along her mate George Michael).

But for all of the highs of his pop, film and TV success, he admitted that his eventful life has also had its lows. He spoke of battling two brain tumours, the break up of Spandau Ballet and the in-fighting that followed, which he compared to a family falling apart.

Throw in other tales about meeting Ronnie Kray in Broadmoor as research for his leading role alongside brother Gary in 1990 British classic The Krays, his tiered wedding cake made entirely of dope and being held at gunpoint in Rio only to discover it was an undercover cop who wanted his autograph - the audience was given a fascinating insight into his rollercoaster life.

He looked at complete ease as he recalled the milestone moments in his life, building up a good rapport with the female-heavy audience and smirking at the whoops that rang around the venue after peeling off his leather jacket to reveal a skin-tight black t-shirt. It’s hard to believe he was once sent to drama classes by his mother to combat terrible shyness as a youngster.

For the last 10 minutes of the show, he took questions from the crowd before personally thanking everyone with a brief meet and greet as they left the venue.

The screams last night may not have been as loud as I remember during those Spandau gigs 30 years ago (well, we're all responsible adults now) but one thing's for sure, Martin Kemp still has the wow factor.

By Maria Cusine

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