REVIEW & AUDIO CHAT: ABC's Martin Fry back to gold lamé best with Lexicon Of Love II and UK tour

Hatter boy...ABC's stylish Martin Fry is back to brilliant best with Lexicon Of Love II

Hatter boy...ABC's stylish Martin Fry is back to brilliant best with Lexicon Of Love II

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When your world is full of strange arrangements...ABC's Martin Fry is back to put the world of love to rights with Lexicon Of Love II and a UK tour.

And the result is sensational.

AUDIO: Listen to Martin Fry's full chat with Graham Walker on his Audioboom Big Interviews Channel - CLICK HERE.

BUY THE ALBUM: LEXICON OF LOVE II - out now on CD, with special limited edition versions and in MP3 format to download from the official ABC web site - CLICK HERE.

DOWNLOAD LEXICON OF LOVE II - also available on itunes.apple.com and www.amazon.co.uk
BUY TOUR TICKETS: Tickets are £35 for ABC's Sheffield homecoming concert at the City Hall on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Buy from the venue, call the Box Office on tour dates are now on 0114 2789 789 or visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk. Full tour dates, ticket and official ABC web site links below.

The brand new Lexicon Of Love II album - out this weekend - is a thought provoking, mature look at love and a sequel to the band's chart-topping debut.

This is Martin's look at the XYZ of love, as a man now reflecting on life in his 50s.

So by its very nature, it has been a long-time coming.

The Commodore 64 was the hottest thing in games computers, Chariots of Fire won at the Oscars, The Falklands War was just at an end and, four days before the release of the original Lexicon Of Love, we were celebrating the birth of Prince William.

The year was 1982, when pop was dominated by British new wave bands led by a trio of Sheffield giants, all bringing something new to the genre, in the form of Human League, Heaven 17 and ABC.

Lexicon Of Love II lovingly recreates the film noir look of the original 1982 album cover - complete with a pistol-packing boy meets red-dressed girl on stage.

Lexicon Of Love II lovingly recreates the film noir look of the original 1982 album cover - complete with a pistol-packing boy meets red-dressed girl on stage.

ABC brought a genuine glamour, inspired by Sinatra and powered by Chic, fusing the world of disco funk with their own unique post punk vision, with tall, floppy-haired debonair frontman Martin in his gold lamé suit belting out classic hits Poison Arrow, The Look of Love, Tears Are Not Enough and All Of My Heart.

Little wonder it sold over a million copies.

They followed it with a change of direction, a more guitar driven Beauty Stab (1983), followed by a cartoon inspired How To Be A Zillionaire (1985), before a return to a more polished Alphabet City (1987), which at least gave us the Smokey Robinson tribute When Smokey Sings and another global hit, The Night You Murdered Love.

Four other albums followed but like their biggest hit, Poison Arrow, it was all right on the target, but wide of the mark. Until now.

Poison Arrow's ABC frontman Martin Fry hits the mark with Lexicon Of Love II and UK tour

Poison Arrow's ABC frontman Martin Fry hits the mark with Lexicon Of Love II and UK tour

Lexicon Of Love II, with a follow-up UK tour - including a homecoming concert at Sheffield City Hall on Saturday, October 29 - is a genuine return to the big, lush orchestral pop trademark sound.

It doesn't just pay homage to the first album, with some throwback lyrics and new clever wordplay from Martin, now aged 58, whose voice hasn't aged one bit...it even lovingly recreates the film noir look of the original album cover, complete with a pistol-packing boy meets red-dressed girl on stage.

Here we have Martin's former, younger self with the unattainable, irresistible woman he used to pursue in his lyrics.

Now there's an older, wiser man in the wings, looking on beneath a fedora. It's Martin, reflecting also in song ass he looks at life and love, as a man in his 50s. This is the lexicon of a lost ideal, with its provocative title. It picks up the story and deals with the characters we were introduced to half a lifetime ago. Fans of the original will love it.

Original band mates Stephen Singleton, Mark White and David Palmer - in more recent years Rod Stewart's drummer - all moved on long ago. Original producer Trevor Horn wasn't available this time around.

But foremost along collaborators on the new album is Oscar winning musician and composer Anne Dudley, who arranged the strings on the original Lexicon and has been the long standing conductor on ABC’s critically acclaimed sold out orchestral shows. She is also back for the tour later this year.

ABC's classic 1982 million selling debut album Lexicon Of Love

ABC's classic 1982 million selling debut album Lexicon Of Love

She has provided orchestral arrangements that give The Lexicon Of Love II its signature sound and she co-wrote two of the key songs on the album: The Love Inside The Love and Brighter Than The Sun.

The Flames Of Desire, Ten Below Zero, Singer Not The Song, The Ship Of The Seasick Sailor and I Believe In Love are all, in their own way, a haunting reminder of what happens when a classic pop voice is paired with an amazing orchestra. ABC are back, at their brilliant best.

First single release Viva Love is a genuine return to the golden era of 1980s dance pop.

The music video for Viva Love, by director Julien Temple, was also a return to the scene of the crime - shot in the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, the same venue where they made the promo for Poison Arrow in '82.

Martin admits it might take a less innocent, more experienced view on affairs of the heart than its million selling predecessor, but Lexicon II still concludes that all you need is love.

In our chat - listen to the interview in full on line - he said: "We made a lot of albums through the years starting with the Lexicon Of Love. We never really followed it up. We turned left artistically.

"Years later I was playing a show at the Albert Hall in London with Anne Dudley conducting the orchestra. I looked out into the audience and there was so much enjoyment and respect for some of those songs like The Look Of Love and Poison Arrow.

"I thought it would be a wonderful thing to attempt a sequel, a chapter two set in 2016 which brings back the characters in those songs. It felt, all those years on, it would be great to make a very big orchestrated unapologetic ABC album. We road tested some songs, put them in the set and the audience really seemed to enjoy it. So then we decided to go into the studio to make the sequel.

"I found it daunting. That's why it's taken me 34 years. It had to be a hell of a record. I didn't want to put out a Lexicon Of Love II and it not to come close to the quality of the original. That's why it's taken a good few years to put together. There was a sense of intrepidation yes.

"I think the most provocative thing was about the record is the title.

"Lexicon Of Love II is an album through the eyes of a man in his 50s - me - wandering around the world and looking at love, my life and all the things I value, after all the twists and turns, trials and tribulations. It's the path of everybody's life. It was great to take on those themes.

"The new album is all about the past and how you take it forward into the future."

Highlights from the new album will be played live when ABC, with Martin at the helm, tours the UK in the autumn. The Sheffield date will also be something of a homecoming for Southbank Sinfonia conductor Anne Dudley,who has close ties with the city. She won her 1997 Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score for steel city based classic The Full Monty.

"It was wonderful to reunite with Anne on the record and I'm looking forward to the shows with her," says Martin.

"We get to play the show in two parts. The second part will the the Lexicon of Love 1982 in its entirety. The first half of the show will be songs like When Smokey Sings, The Night You Murdered Love and Be Near Me, songs we will cherry pick form the catalogue, then we will play about six or seven songs from the new album, Lexicon Of Love II. It's a two hour show."

Martin, born in Stretford, Manchester, moved to Sheffield at the age of 17 where he went to university. He now lives in London but admits he's an adopted Yorkshireman and Sheffield remains his second home - his in-laws still live there.

But will he be performing on the City Hall stage wearing his old gold lamé suit?

"No," laughs Martin. "Julian Temple tried to get me to wear one but it's like trying to fit into your old school uniform. That would be kind of weird. The suits I wear now are from Ozwald Boateng in Savile Row. A little more understated, as befits a man of my age."

BUY THE ALBUM: LEXICON OF LOVE II - out now on CD, with special limited edition versions and in MP3 format to download from the official ABC web site - CLICK HERE.

DOWNLOAD LEXICON OF LOVE II - also available on itunes.apple.com and www.amazon.co.uk
BUY TOUR TICKETS: Tickets are £35 for ABC's Sheffield homecoming concert at the City Hall on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Buy from the venue, call the Box Office on tour dates are now on 0114 2789 789 or visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk. Full tour dates, ticket and official ABC web site links below.

ABC 2016 TOUR DATES:

Tickets for all show available from venues or at www.gigsandtours.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk
Fri 21 Oct 16 Manchester Bridgewater Hall

Sat 22 Oct 16 Newcastle City Hall

Mon 24 Oct 16 Birmingham Symphony Hall

Tue 25 Oct 16 London Royal Festival Hall

Wed 26 Oct 16 Brighton Dome

Fri 28 Oct 16 Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre

Sat 29 Oct 16 Sheffield City Hall

Sun 30 Oct 16 Bristol Colston Hall

For more visit the official website at www.abcmartinfry.com follow on Twitter @ABCFRY Facebook www.facebook.com/ABClexicon

That was then...ABC as they first appeared on the new wave scene in the 1980s, left to right David Palmer, Mark White, Martin Fry and Stephen Singleton. Photo: LJ van Houten/REX

That was then...ABC as they first appeared on the new wave scene in the 1980s, left to right David Palmer, Mark White, Martin Fry and Stephen Singleton. Photo: LJ van Houten/REX

The sound is back...but not the gold lam. Martin says his suits from Ozwald Boateng in Savile Row are now 'a little more understated, as befits a man of my age'.

The sound is back...but not the gold lam. Martin says his suits from Ozwald Boateng in Savile Row are now 'a little more understated, as befits a man of my age'.

Martin Fry, looking back at love in his 50s - with a classic pop voice that hasn't aged one bit.

Martin Fry, looking back at love in his 50s - with a classic pop voice that hasn't aged one bit.

ABC's frontman Martin Fry

ABC's frontman Martin Fry

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