ABC performing their Lexicon Of Love II Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Tuesday 1st November 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

If you were an avid fan of Top Of The Tops in the early 80s, then you would have been tuning in to watch the likes of Soft Cell, Human League, and The Jam, but making a lasting impression was Martin Fry, the gold lame suit clad front man of ABC, the Sheffield group that lavishly orchestrated songs that are still getting radio air play today.

Releasing their debut album, Lexicon Of Love, they found it almost impossible to follow its success, but 34 years later, Fry has released a sequel, The Lexicon Of Love II. Now touring to promote it, he is backed by the Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra and conducted by the very talented Anne Dudley whose orchestral arrangements were so crucial to the first album.

With Carol Kenyon, one of the best session singers in the business and who’s vocals on Heaven 17’s Temptation set the song above others, and with Rob Fusari supporting him, this packed Royal Concert Hall was treated to two fabulous sets.

In the first half, Fry, suavely dressed in a smart suit but with a nod to the past with his gold shoes, interspersed familiar songs with most of the new album. The Lexicon Of Love overture led straight into the thumpingly good opener, When Smokey Sings. New song Viva Love is clearly crafted from the Lexicon template but with those romantic meditations now crooned from the perspective of a middle aged man.

There was the first play for the classic ABC sounding Flames Of Desire complete with its fabulous string opening and big crescendos at the end of each verse and The Love Inside The Love which was very well received. He threw in old numbers (How To Be A) Millionaire accompanied by support, Rob Fusari and The Night You Murdered Love took this audience right back to 1987.

Other masterpieces from the new album, Ten Below Zero and Kiss Me Goodbye had all the hallmarks of classic ABC, whilst first set closer Be Near Me had everyone on their feet.

The second set took this audience on a trip down memory lane with the first album and it did not disappoint. With such great classics as Poison Arrow, Tears Are Not Enough and All Of My Heart, all done with the backing of the Orchestra, it was The Look Of Love that brought the house down, not once but twice as Fry did it again as a sing along for the encore.

Still showcasing his fantastic voice, what Lexicon Of Love II has done for Fry is give him his biggest hit since that 1982 debut album. With this audience still shouting for more, Fry has showed that there is still life in the old dog yet.