Dec 13, 2009 5:42 PM

Published Date: 01 December 2009

By Graham Walker


Easy as ABC as Martin Fry performs hit album live



ABC frontman Martin Fry is considering whether to get himself a new gold lame suit for this weekend.

He's got a very special show – back in the city where it all began.


Martin, with his band and a 50 piece orchestra, will perform debut album The Lexicon of Love in its entirety, at Sheffield City Hall.


Lexicon Of Love, the chart-topping album – amazingly now almost 30-years-old – sparked global hits Tears Are Not Enough, Poison Arrow, The Look Of Love and All Of My Heart.


And as famous as the music were those gold lame suits.


Martin, now aged 51, hasn't ruled out putting one on again, just for old time's sake.



"I should do really, shouldn't I? These days I'm down on Savile Row. I did have a gold lame suit made – but it didn't fit me. So I don't know.


"It's like a uniform, yeah – like a Star Trek outfit,'' he told The Star in an exclusive chat.


Now he's about to boldy go where he has been only once before. He performed the Lexicon Of Love, with an orchestra, at London's Royal Albert Hall in April, with original ABC drummer David Palmer.


This weekend he's on his own. He rarely sees former ABC band mates Steve Singleton, Mark White, Mark Lickley and Dave Robinson. But he says he would love a reunion show featuring everyone who collaborated to make ABC a global phenomenon.


It would have to include producer Trevor Horn, who helped to shape the polished, big brass and string sound which shaped the New Romantic era and dominated the charts 27-years-ago.


"We wanted to do an album that was very polished and we hooked up with Trevor Horn, who had done a song called Hand Held in Black and White, for Dollar – quite a mainstream act. But he made this really wide-screen sound for them,'' said Martin, from Stockport, who formed ABC while at Sheffield University.


"We had had a top 20 hit with Tears Are Not Enough, but we approached Trevor Horn to bring some finesse into the whole thing and he did. He did an incredible job producing the record. It was very much a collaboration. We went over to Sarm East Studios, in London's Brick Lane, underneath this wig shop. It was a really small contained space and we just started recording. There was some magic in the air.


"But it wasn't a case of going in and meeting a Svengali type of figure, like Simon Cowell, who waved his magic wand and suddenly we had this polished sound. It was very much step by step. So we recorded Poison Arrow first and then that became a top five hit,. The record company gave us the money to go back in and record some more songs. So we then did Look Of Love.


"We did a lot of it to amuse ourselves and at one point Trevor said, we were busking a country and western spoof really, a song called All Of My Heart, and he said if we put strings on it, it would probably go to number one.


"We were a bit reticent, thinking a full orchestra backing then would be selling out or something. But he said there were strings on Bridge Over Trouble Water – you can hardly hear them, or She's Gone by the Hall and Oates band. It was definitely throwing ideas around. But it worked."


The band recorded much of its early repertoire in Barber Crescent, Sheffield.


" I had a house there. Fortunately, or unfortunately for us, the next three houses down the street were derelict, so you just kicked through the wall and we had a rehearsal space. It was like the Beatles movie,'' said Martin, who still regularly visits the city to see his daughter Nancy, a student at Sheffield University.


"We set up the bass, drums, guitars and keyboards in the house next door – which was all closed up. And there we spent a long time writing songs that became our repertoire. We played the arts college and 10 or 11 shows before we were signed by Universal. I guess they saw something in us that was going on."


He realised they were on to a winner one snowy day, when the band's van broke down at Chesterfield roundabout on the way back from London where they had been recording Poison Arrow.


"We were waiting for the AA guys we had the monitor mixes of Poison Arrow with us. We kept playing this one song over and over. It was snowing. And that's a moment that's set in my memory, of the band realising that we had stumbled across something special,'' he revealed.


"My favourite track on the album is probably All Of My Heart. Wherever I get to perform it today, in whatever part of the world – there's always somebody wiping away a tear. To stand on a stage and sing a song that has that emotional effect on somebody is a great feeling. It's a great honour.


"It feels so natural to perform All Of My Heart with a 50-piece orchestra., It doesn't feel like a bolt on. We didn't use a big orchestra in the studio at the time. But it feels like its come home. The weird thing is it's doesn't feel frightening to be singing in front of such a big orchestra. I've never driven a Bentley but I suppose it's like that – a smooth ride."