Forth Awards: Edinburgh's most boisterous awards return with Tony Hadley and dark memories

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Gold. That's certainly one way of describing 80's pop legend Tony Hadley, the man who had a generation of females and males swooning when he was the front-man of New Romantic trail-blazers Spandau Ballet, has never failed to impress.

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So it was again at the Usher Hall on Thursday when he dropped in for ever boisterous Forth Awards which were returning after a couple of years out, due to the pandemic.

The singer of such classics as True, Through the Barricades and Spandau’s iconic debut, To Cut A Long Story Short (still my favourite after all these years), is no stranger to Edinburgh and to the Forth Awards, he was a headliner at the very first event held at the Sheraton Hotel as were Wet Wet Wet, if memory serves, and they too were back at this week's event but, like Queen without Freddie, the Wets without Marti just isn't the same.

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Forth Awards 2022Forth Awards 2022
Forth Awards 2022

Joining them on the bill, Heather Small, the voice of M People, ensured proceedings ended on a suitably euphoric and alcohol-fuelled high while, earlier, local boy Callum Beattie delivered a blistering rendition of Salamander Street, a song written after spotting a former classmate working the infamous Leith street, widely recognised as a red light area some time ago.

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But let's get back to Tony Hadley, a man I've seen perform many times (his voice really is as good today as it was on that very first single) and interviewed on a few occasions. It has been a good while since I last saw him in action and, to be honest, when I saw his name on the press release, it was with mixed emotions.

Some moments in life never leave you and Tony, along with ABC front-man Martin Fry, feature in one such moment from my own life. The year was 2005 and I was interviewing them for a joint gig they were to do in Edinburgh. We were talking in the Editor's office and having such famous faces in the office had caused a real buzz around Barclay House.

Midway through our chat, a colleague tapped the door and interrupted to say there was a call for me from the hospital where my dad had been poorly but on the road to recovery. It wasn't good news and I had to get there as quickly as possible. Abandoning the interview with apologies that both singers assured were unnecessary, I jumped into a taxi to the Western General where I arrived just too late.

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That was the moment I realised how quickly life can change and how ridiculously surreal it can be - from pop stars to the darkest grief.

Thankfully, the memories evoked by Tony's turn at the Forth Awards proved strangely comforting, sparking recollections of happier times, not least when the singer, who can work even the most rowdy of rooms with a consummate ease, shared a simple message to calm the capacity crowd, “Just remember, be nice to each other, it's much easier, it really is.”

It's a sentiment my old man certainly would have shared.

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