Boy bands UK: Bros
When the screaming started: the story of a Brosette
After watching the Bros documentary, ‘After the Screaming Stops‘, this is all about Bros. When the screaming started. On the 80s music scene, there were so many boy bands. UK acts to have hit the top of their game include Duran Duran, Wham and many more. Then there was Bros.
Back in the band’s heyday – the late 1980s seeing the boys reach the peak of their success – I could never have imagined waiting weeks to watch something starring my idols. But I did just that when the programme was aired, watching it some time later.
I touched on briefly on my Bros obsession in The Soundtrack of my Life. To be honest, I was completely obsessed. And I was far from alone. Hordes of teenage girls around the globe were as dazzled as I by the dashing Goss twins from South East London, and their one-time sidekick, Craig Logan.
When will I be famous?
The song that started it all off was When will I be Famous? It reached number two on the UK singles chart in 1987. I can clearly recall hearing it on the radio for the first time when on a sleepover at a friend’s house. All I can remember, from that day, is thinking that the lead singer sounded like a girl. Perhaps I was listening to the backing vocalist’s part at the time…
What happened next?
I can’t actually remember anything in between that first time I heard Bros’s first hit, and falling for them hook, line and sinker. Matt Goss, in particular. As I touched upon in my musings on Missing George Michael, I felt that I must marry Mr M. Goss – or perish.
The boy is dropped
I loved all three, though. I really did, and can actually recall sobbing my heart out when I heard that Craig wasn’t going to be at the upcoming concert at Whitley Bay Ice Rink. My mam asked me what was the matter – and I snapped at her for not knowing. Of course it was the end of the world – and Craig wasn’t even my favourite.
It’s difficult to picture now, as a forty-something wife, mother and homeowner, the sheer levels of hysteria that those London boys induced at the very height of their fame.
Their late mother, Carol, deserved a medal for what she put up with. You would hear whispers, through the fan network, that someone had got hold of their home phone number. There were no mobile phones to speak of and no internet then, all fans could do was phone – or camp out by – their mother’s house. They did just that. Armies of them. Apparently Carol simply smiled and served up cups of tea and bacon sarnie. What a woman. No wonder those boys miss her so.
Then, one day, it was announced that Bros were coming to the North East, to play Whitley Bay Ice Rink. I was going, of course. My cousin and I spent all out free time listening to, talking about and generally obsessing over Bros, so it was a foregone conclusion that we had to get tickets.
With no online sales in those days, our only option was to queue outside Newcastle City Hall from the early hours. We were up at some insane hour to make our way to the box office, yet the queue was still already so, so long. When it did finally start to move, Chinese whispers made their way back along the line, filling us with fear that the tickets would be long gone by the time we made it to the front.
Enter our knight in shining armour. I’ll let him remain anonymous, but suffice to say he knew just the right people. He plucked our wads of notes from our fingers and disappeared through the throng ahead. A little later – though it certainly seemed like an eternity – he returned and wordlessly withdrew us from the line, trying not to attract any attention.
He’d secured us two tickets. We were finally going to see our darlings. In the flesh.
As well as dreaming of the day Matt would finally turn to me, smile and get down on one knee, I spent a lot of time (and a considerable sum of money) tracking down limited edition 12 and 7 inch records. Ah, those halcyon days of vinyl. What pleasure there was to be had, rifling through the racks at Grainger Market or Pet Sounds in Newcastle during the 80s, unearthing a hidden treasure like a limited edition sleeve, special 12 ” remix or complete, sealed 7″ badge pack.
I’d take my precious finds back home on the bus, clutching the carrier bag tightly. When I was back in my room, my fortress, I’d play them on my record player, revelling in the heady sensation of possessing something rare.
If they were badge packs, however, they stayed intact, and still do to this day. Somewhere, up in our loft, they are stashed, waiting for that day when they might see daylight once more.
Who, knows, one day they might even be worth serious money. I could be digging out that vinyl and giving it another spin. Or a first spin, even, in the case of the sealed packs. If it’s not worth a mint, that is…
Brosette fashion was all part and parcel of being a fan (or Brole as the males were known, though they seemed to me to be few and far between). The uniform was a faded, ripped Levi 501s with funky belt buckles, worn with black Doc Martens. No ordinary DMs, though – they had to be fastened with a Grolsch bottle top instead of laces, just like Matt, Luke and Craig’s were. No, I’ve no idea why, either.
I did the 501s, I did the shoes, I had Bros t-shirts – but I drew the line at the bottle tops. Or perhaps I just didn’t know anyone, then, who drank dutch beer…
All good things come to an end
It didn’t last forever, of course. I saw my heroes live – and was lucky enough to get to go again a few nights later (yep, that mystery fairy godfather delivered once more). I screamed myself hoarse, happy just too have been in the same room as the twins. Even though, before the concert, I’d been plotting how to contrive a meeting – and wondering how on earth I’d cope if that didn’t happen.
My letter was printed in the fan club newsletter – and no, I’m not sharing! Thank you to the ‘Bros Front’. Battlelines were certainly drawn. Fans could get very competitive where their boys were concerned, and Shirley Lewis, Luke’s now-wife, was an object of huge hate and derision. Just borne from high-running, hormonal teenage jealousy, that’s all.
By the time their second album was released, my interest was starting to wane. University beckoned, along with my first real life love. Life went on, and I don’t think I even bought the third album, Changing Faces.
It wasn’t just me. Sales of ‘Push‘, their first album, were stratospheric. (Not surprising perhaps, as I, like many fans bought it twice: as part of a Limited Edition ‘Christmas Box’ second time round.) The Time plummeted in comparison, then 1991’s Changing Faces sold far fewer than that. In 1992, Bros went their separate ways.
Bros: The Reunion
I didn’t get tickets for the Reunion gig at the O2 in 2017. I didn’t really want to. Whenever I’ve tried to relive some sort of glory days in my life, it’s just never been the same second time around. I didn’t want to sully the memory of those happy, late 80s days.
When I watched After The Screaming Stops, though, I did feel a pang of regret. What must it have been like, to stand there before the boys once more, at the mighty O2? ‘totes emosh’ is the modern-day adjective that springs to mind. The crowd certainly looked like they enjoyed it.
I’ll always have a fondness for Matt, and Luke – and Craig too. Will I ever see them perform again, or finally open up those badge packs I so treasured? Who knows. They do seem like lovely, humble individuals. Damaged, too? Unquestionably. A bit intense, perhaps in Matt’s case; while Luke, conversely, appeared maybe a little too cool.
They sure did pay a high price for their fame, and I only hope things works out as they hope in the long term. If the reunion repaired the brothers’ fractured relationship, then I’m sure they would consider it worthwhile.
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