ABC - The Lexicon of Love 2
It’s been a while since I originally bought ABC’s debut album ‘The Look of Love’, way back in 1982, and I have since warn out two vinyl copies, bought it on CD and now I am going to find another vinyl version as I have a turntable again.
So as you can possibly imagine this was a long awaited opportunity to hear the entire album played track for track live with the added bonus of the Southbank Sinfonia providing the orchestration.
This album is possibly one the very best of the 1980’s ‘New Wave’ and mostly likely the best pop album ever written and recorded, in my opinion.
It is also pretty close to being a concept album, although it doesn’t tell a complete story the tracks do carry a common theme about love, loss and youth. What better topics for a teenager?
The album is important to the history of pop music in so much that producer was Trevor Horn, The Buggles. He brought in Anne Dudley to flesh out the keyboards and she scored the album's orchestrations which are a major contribution to the albums sound.
The album was also the catalyst for its production team to form the seminal band ‘The Art of Noise’, a year later, which in turn basically became ZTT (Zang Tuun Tumb); who said Frankie Goes to Hollywood?
And so Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall was host to the opening night of this new tour with support from ‘8bit’ also known as Rob Furasi, a song writer and reputably responsible for ‘discovering’ Lady Gaga.
He plays, and co-wrote a couple of songs, on ‘The Lexicon of Love 2’, a companion album to its 1982 sister, which revisits the characters form the first album now they are older and possibly wiser...
The stage is set and graced by the Southbank Sinfonia with Anne Dudley conducting and they open with a new overture for the ‘Lexicon of Love’. The ABC band then fills the stage, all 12 of them, and finally Martin Fry appears drawing huge applause. He is dressed in a classic light grey/blue single breasted suit, so the gold lame version has been dropped.
The band looks like an up-market lounge group dressed in sharp suits with the backing singers in smart black frocks. They strike off big with an excellent redemption of ‘When Smokey Sings’ already the audience is up and dancing, looks like this is going to be good.
Fry explains that that are going to play the whole of ‘Lexicon of Love’ plus much of the new album. We are treated to many new songs and some of the best were ‘The Flames of Desire’, ‘Confessions of a Fool’, ‘Viva Love’ and ‘Singer Not the Song’.
These new ABC tracks all good and certainly work well in a live environment. Fry’s voice is still good too, although he does have some coping mechanisms to deal with those high notes. Part of that is the superb support from the backing vocalists.
Personally, I liked these new tracks but they do not seem to deliver the same feeling, or come to that, production that made the debut album so choke a block with hits. However it is clear that Anne Dudley has successfully retained that ABC orchestration.
The first part of the concert closes with the promise of the return to stage being the main event.
So after the orchestra is back on stage, Dudley has donned an ABC red colour two piece suit and Fry bounces on stage in a new suit, possibly bronze lame?, and they are greeted by huge cheers and much applause.
So it begins that slow quiet start orchestra start to the ‘Lexicon of Love’ with ‘Show Me’. The band is alive, animated and playing their hearts out Fry starts to sing and we are off.
Track after track they deliver is a joy for anyone who loves excellent and superbly crafted pop music because that is what this album is. The big hits such as ‘Poison Arrow’, ‘Tears are not Enough’ and ‘The Look of Love’ get everyone up and dancing.
‘The Lexicon of Love’ is basically a complete testament to writing and producing a perfect pop album and picking your favourite tracks will be very difficult.
However, as I mention I have played it a few times... and for me there are three stand out tracks. Date Stamp a very strong pop song with a vitriolic message to it, strong and punchy. This is a tough song to sing and tonight Fry did struggle a bit with it, but who cares? not me! It was just great.
‘All of my Heart’ is possibly the best track on the album and Fry sounds amazing on it, not to mention the tune.
My third choice is ‘4 Ever 2 Gether’ this is an odd track on the album, much of it has a strange ethereal sound to it. In fact in later years I started to think of it as an ‘Art of Noise’ track with guest vocals by Martin Fry. It’s not quite, but if you listen to it then follow it up with an ‘AoN’ track I suspect you may come to the same conclusion. There is cash register sample in it which would make a good ringtone.
The album concludes with the orchestra piece ‘The Look of Love (part 4)’ and the Southbank Sinfonia did us proud again. The audience where overjoyed when Fry and the band returned to the stage to perform ‘The Look of Love’ again, what an encore!
So if you like good pop music and fancy an evening full of excellent tunes and a lot of fun then rush out and grab tickets now to see ABC on this tour. It may never happen again...