By Graham Chalmers
It seems the Harrogate district isn’t the only place which has gone cycling mad, Tony Hadley is telling me.
The ex-Spandau Ballet lead singer, who is shortly to headline the official Tour de France show at Harewood House, now lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife and children, writes Graham Chalmers.
“I know several people round here who are mad keen on cycling. We live near the Chiltern Hills and you can see them all out at weekends.”
It’s a little before ten in the morning when I call this famous Londoner at the home he moved into two-and-half years ago.
“Sorry, I’m running around like a headless chicken. I’ve got five brilliant kids but two of them are quite young. One’s just gone off to school, the other’s off to nursery. It’s always chaos in the house at this point.”
Tomorrow Tony is flying to Spain for another big gig. His diary is rarely empty; commitments in all directions.
Somehow the well-groomed and well-mannered 54-year-old has also managed to squeeze in The Tour Concert at Harewod House on Friday, July 4.
Part of the stately home’s grand extravanganza built round the arrival of The Grand Depart the following day, Tony says he’s looking forward to bringing classic songs like Gold and True to such a sparkling occasion.
“It’s a beautiful house and a great bill. Rebecca Ferguson is an amazing singer and I’ve always liked Soul II Soul. I enjoy that dance element.”
It’s a long time now since the days of the Blitz Club, big hair and frilly shirts.
Not that he’s ever gone away. Tony has done it and been there ever since, from Live Aid and the Mandela Concert in the 80s to singing for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics.
“I’ve had a long career and I’ve had a lot of luck but I still love singing. I could do without all the travelling but I love walking on stage and showing off for an hour.”
His Spandau Ballet days are brilliantly brought back to life in a new documentary movie.
Soul Boys of The Western World has seen the band reunite briefly for promotion purposes at the likes of Cannes Film Festival.
As luck would have it, the film is being released in October just in time for Tony’s nationwide tour with a 50-piece orchestra and a new solo album. From what he tells me, it sounds like it will be the work of a man in the prime of his life.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve written or co-written a whole album. It’s a little influenced by people I like - Robert Palmer, The Killers, the Kasier Chiefs - but it’s still conventional pop-rock with a bit of dance.”
The last time I saw this consummate professional live, I thought his voice would be perfect for swing. It turns out he’d already been there and successfully done it.
“I love Sinatra and Bennett and Jack Jones. Some pop singers find the timing of that style of singing difficult but my mum and dad brought me up on that sort of stuff.”
Although The Tour Concert will feature solo hits and some favourite covers (he’s got a particular penchant for David Bowie’s Life on Mars), Tony says he’s very happy to perform those big Spandau Ballet hits such as Through the Barricades.
“I can’t understand artists who don’t want to sing their own biggest songs. What they don’t realise is that, if you’ve had hits, they are little memory sticks for people in terms of what was happening in their lives when they first heard them.
“You’ve always got to give people what they want.”
A true gent, I suggest he’s turned into the wisest man in pop.
He laughs. “I don’t know about that. I would like to think I was wiser than I was when I was 20. You live and learn.”
The Tour Concert, Harewood House, Friday, July 4, 5pm
For tickets , call 01423 502116 or book online at www.kalmusic,co,uk