Old pals' act; They say everything comes back into fashion if you wait long enough. And so it is that pop icons Tony Hadley and Martin Fry are riding the wave of 80s nostalgia with a comeback tour.



Byline: Gareth Bicknell


BAND AID, flamboyant mullets, the BMX and synth-pop rock stars unashamed to wear Lycra - the 1980s are officially back in fashion.


But if there was one thing Tony Hadley wouldn't bring back from the decade that is enjoying a resurgence, it would be the clothes.


The former Spandau Ballet singer, who was an icon for the frilly shirt wearing New Romantic generation who bought 20 million of the band's albums, featuring classic tracks like True, Gold and Through The Barricades, is adamant.


``They should definitely not resurrect some of the fashions, '' says the former Spandau Ballet singer, who returns to North Wales in the spring with former ABC singer Martin Fry.


``Those awful things some of the girls used to wear around their ankles, and the horrible things they used to wear that used to stop just below their knees.


They were terrible. '' But hang on a minute Tony, weren't those girls in the front row on Top Of The Pops your adoring fans? Weren't those fashion disasters they were wearing inspired by your good self?


``That's right, '' he says. ``I'm entirely responsible for some of the worst fashion faux pas of the decade. But I'm entitled to look back and realise that I looked an absolute bloody nightmare. ''


Hadley and Fry play in Llandudno's North Wales Theatre in February, just over a year after Hadley played the same venue with Go West star Peter Cox.


``We played there straight after we'd played in Bangkok, '' he says.


``We went from Grimsby to Bangkok, straight to Llandudno. It was ridiculous. ''


Meanwhile, his sparring partner for a UK tour that reunites two of the most popular front men of the 80s is looking forward to his parents making the trip to see the show.


``They have a holiday home on Anglesey, '' says Fry.


``It's a lovely place. '' The two will be backed by a brass band as they perform their own hits as well as favourites from their record collections such as Stevie Wonder, Dean Martin and David Bowie.


And while Hadley is happy to consign the fashion disasters of the past to the dustbin of nostalgia, Fry has no qualms about sticking to his guns when it comes to the glitzy, show-stealing costumes that he has made his trademark.


And Fry, whose band made one of the seminal albums of their time in 1982's Lexicon Of Love, and had hits with The Look Of Love and Poison Arrow, plans to dazzle on stage in a sequined gold suit he adopted after going solo.


``That suit practically does the show for me, '' he jokes.


``I could just send it out on its own and give myself the night off. ''


The suit is typical of Fry's style. He was known for his flamboyance on stage at a time when pop music was all about the extrovert stars rather than the navel-gazing, earnest singers of the 1990s.


The true rock 'n' roll entertainer is making a comeback with bands like The Darkness, The Killers and the ever-present U2 in the charts, so what better time for two charismatic singers to return?


Their UK tour is billed as Tony Hadley Versus Martin Fry, suggesting a competitive element between the two. So what does Hadley have up his sleeve to compete with Fry's exquisite attire?


``I'll be honest, I couldn't compete with that suit in a million years, '' he says.


``I'll just be wearing some nice shirts and some cool suits. I'll leave all the glamour and the Shirley Bassey stuff to Martin. ''


But seriously, how does it work when two singers who are used to hogging the limelight compete for the attentions of the audience?


Fry suggests they have a boxing match on stage, then thinks better of it when he remembers it's a hobby of Hadley's.


``But I'm taller and faster than he is, '' he says.


``He's sort of like a Joe Frazier, shorter and stockier. But together we're two heavyweights of pop music. ''


The two have been friends since their heyday, although Fry says that wasn't the case between all the pop stars of the 80s.


``We (ABC) did a tour with Culture Club and The Human League last year, and it was a great laugh.


``We'd never have spoken to each other back in the 80s.


``We'd see each other back stage at Top Of The Pops, but we'd be jealously eyeing each other up, competing for who was going to be number one in the charts.


``But after 20 years, anybody who's still functioning in this business, you've got to have respect for. ''


Hadley agrees: ``Next year is the 25th anniversary of me being in the business, and if I'm honest, to survive for this long is quite incredible.


``I've had my dips, but things are now going really well.


``Most people end up doing jobs they absolutely hate, but I'm lucky enough to be doing something I love, and to have been doing it for 25 years. ''


n Tony Hadley Versus Martin Fry and ABC is at the North Wales Theatre, Llandudno on February 21 and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on February 27.