mon 04/03/2024

The Kemps: All Gold, BBC Two review - bickering with the Ballet boys | reviews, news & interviews

The Kemps: All Gold, BBC Two review - bickering with the Ballet boys

The Kemps: All Gold, BBC Two review - bickering with the Ballet boys

Latest satirical outing by rockumentarist Rhys Thomas

Rockin' all over the world: Martin and Gary Kemp with Francis Rossi

This is the follow-up to 2020’s The Kemps: All True, in which rock satirist Rhys Thomas assessed the Spandau Ballet boys as the band reached its 40th anniversary. This time, we rejoin Thomas as he spends a year as a fly on the wall in the chaotic lives of Martin and Gary, culminating in their plans to appear in the BBC’s New Year celebrations as 2024 dawns.

The bogus rockumentary is an enticing format, but a notoriously difficult one to pull off. News has reached us that Rob Reiner is making Spinal Tap 2, but few seriously believe it can top the 1984 original (the only film on the Internet Movie Database to be rated out of 11). The ludicrousness of rock stars doesn’t resonate any more in our dismal current era of music icons who play in gigantic domes, are fuelled by corporate sponsorship and have their image fanatically controlled through tightly-edited social media campaigns. They’re about as authentic as a packet of Aldi No Beef Burgers. Or for that matter Gary’s vegan brand, Wonge.The Kemps: All Gold, BBC Two Still, fair play to Messrs Kemp and Kemp for at least giving it a try, even if they sometimes come over as a bit lame. The theme is that Martin is married to both Pepsi and Shirlie but they want a divorce. To pay for it, he needs Spandau Ballet to reform and play a lucrative world tour, but Gary would prefer to work on his new dance project, Spandau: the Ballet. The brothers gamely have a go at bickering and bitching, but it’s undermined by the fact that we know that they know they’re just pretending to argue for the sake of a satirical film. They're never going to put the boot in where it really hurts.

Matters improve when a sprinkling of thespian heavyweights is lobbed into the mix. Christopher Eccleston is surprisingly persuasive as record producer Luke Dunmore, a veteran of the Madchester era sporting a ludicrous Inspiral Carpets hairpiece. The whole project steps up a couple of gears when Michael Kitchen (pictured above with the Kemps) barges into the frame as the Spands’ manager John Farrow.

We’ve seen Farrow in action before as manager of Brian Pern and Thotch (Thomas’s satirical version of Peter Gabriel and Genesis), and his bullying, boorish manner supplies the squirt of astringency this show needs. Like the best real-life managers, Farrow is humourless and unsentimental. When Gary Kemp says he’d rather play in theatres than stadiums because it’s better for the fans, Farrow will hear none of it. “Fuck the fans – it’s dosh you want” (pictured below, the lads with Tamzin Outhwaite as their mum).The Kemps: All Gold, BBC Two As for their plan to make a Spandau Ballet movie, it stalls when the Spands find they no longer own their original multitrack recordings, since, along with the rest of the record business, they’ve been bought by something called Kaarlsohn Media. “You can’t have a Spandau Ballet movie without Spandau Ballet music,” wails Gary. “Some people might prefer it,” retorts Farrow.

There’s a comical riff involving the cash-strapped Martin doing video greetings to punters at 85 quid a time, and a clever interlude about the political correctness of accepting a knighthood. The icing on the cake is the Kemps joining Status Quo’s irascible Francis Rossi to play “True” in the style of the Quo’s “Whatever You Want”, which works uncannily well. More moments in that vein would have been very welcome.

The icing on the cake is the Kemps playing 'True' in the style of Status Quo’s 'Whatever You Want'

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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