Aug 16, 2009 9:33 PM



Back to The 80s / Audley End



THERE are few anthems more enduring than Don’t You Want Me by the Human League.


But at Audley End on Saturday night, the Sheffield electro-superstars closed their set – and the entire Back to the 80s show – with a surprise which surpassed even the fifth best-selling single of the decade.


The band ended the evening on a nostalgic high with an upbeat rendition of Phil Oakey’s hit with Giorgio Moroder, Together in Electric Dreams and the crowd forgot the driving rain – and the past 30 years – to sing along.


It was a fitting end to a show where the feel-good factor ensured a smile on fans’ faces, despite the kind of weather more suited to a Wet Wet Wet gig.


The set lists of all five acts featured: Heaven 17, Go West, Belinda Carlisle, ABC and the League were a ready reckoner for the hits of the 80s, but there were also some wildcards for the connoisseurs – like a storming rendition of Empire State Human.


The track, from the League’s debut album Reproduction, failed to chart when it was released in 1979 and was penned not only by Oakey but fellow founding members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, who went on to form Heaven 17 with Glenn Gregory.


The latter took to the stage with Ware to open the show – just as the heavens opened – but unperturbed they mixed chart-toppers like Temptation with earlier work such as Crushed by the Wheels of Industry and sounded as good as ever, albeit with less hair.


Go West performed a predictable but crowd-pleasing round-up of their most successful releases before former Go-Go and punk princess Belinda Carlisle took to the stage to do the same, with a memorable rendition of Heaven is A Place on Earth, which had fans dancing in the rain.


Martin Fry was true to his word and delivered on his promise for the best of ABC’s back catalogue. While some afficionados may have preferred more of The Lexicon of Love and less from later albums, everyone was happy as he belted out The Look of Love.


The penultimate summer picnic concert provided an evening of perfect pop, which showed music in the 80s – and the weather – were better. I wonder how many of today’s chart-toppers will still be acclaimed in 30 years’ time, long after this dismal summer has been consigned to history.

Aug 2, 2009 8:40 PM

12:37 -


28 July 2009



MARTIN Fry, the lead singer of the chart-topping 80s band ABC, is relishing every minute of the nostalgia revival which has seen his group playing to bigger crowds than ever before.


On Saturday (August 1), ABC will join their contemporaries The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, Go West, and Heaven 17 for the Audley End Picnic Concert's Back to the 80s night.


"Every time I go out on stage it's the best feeling in the world," said Fry, who formed ABC in Sheffield in 1980 and shot to fame with debut album The Lexicon of Love in 1982.


As part of the New Romantic movement which included Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, the band enjoyed a decade of success in the UK and around the world.


"I had some phenomenal pop success from a very young age," said Manchester-born Fry. "There've been plenty of good times as well as bad times. In the 90s the music scene had moved on and it seemed like nobody wanted to listen to the band.


"Every time I perform now I appreciate it so much more - it's a real privilege and an honour."


Stardom was never guaranteed for the young Fry who freely admits that at school he was "terrible" at music and couldn't even master the recorder. However his enthusiasm was never in question and he pursued his passion in music by writing a fanzine.


But a hobby turned into a career when Fry went to interview a band and ended up as their lead singer.


"We had our first hits in 1982 and then had a run of about 10 years solid making music, which is a long time in pop," said Fry. "After that the band broke up for a while and I settled into family life after my wife had the twins, Nancy and Louis."


ABC started performing again in 1997 and haven't looked back since. Riding high on the crest of an 80s revival, the band have just got back from touring the United States and have recently performed an orchestrated concert in the Royal Albert Hall.


"I'm really looking forward to playing at the Audley End concerts and flying the flag for the 80s," said Fry. "We're lucky because we've got a string of recognisable hits and to have the crowd singing along with the chorus as well as the verse is a wonderful feeling."


The band are about to release a new record, but Fry said he wouldn't short change the audience by not singing the band's repertoire of hits including The Look of Love and All of My Heart.


ABC's sound has developed over time, but Fry said the common theme running through the music has always been the love songs. "We do have a lot of love songs and I always draw on personal experience when writing them," he said. "I think that is why people can relate to them and they are still popular today."


Tickets for the concert can be purchased from the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre on the Market Square.


Summer downpour can't dampen the 80s nostalgia at Audley End

12:23 - 03 August 2009

THOUSANDS of people defied a summer downpour as Audley End House and Gardens went Back to the 80s on Saturday.


Some of the biggest stars of the decade played some of their biggest hits on the penultimate performance of the historic mansion's Picnic Concerts.


The nostalgia was kicked off in fine style by synthpop band, Heaven 17. Although they worked to a tight set, the three-piece outfit worked up a wet but enthusiastic crowd with hits including Crushed by the Wheels of Industry and Temptation.


Pop duo GoWest were next up and they really got things moving. The Kings of Wishful Thinking hit the high notes with Don't Look Down and Call Me which had the audience dancing in the rain.


Grammy Award-nominated American singer Belinda Carlisle was given a rapturous welcome for her appearance onto the stage and it was applause well deserved. She offered up two of her big hitters, We Want the Same Thing and Heaven is a Place on Earth, which arguably went down as the highlight of the evening.


After a short interval, play resumed with chart-topping 80s' band ABC. The band had a decade of success alongside others in the New Romantic movement -and they rolled back the years again here.


Those expecting their big hits were not disappointed as Martin Fry and co. belted out top tunes Poison Arrow, The Look of Love and All of My Heart.


80's icons The Human League, who topped the bill, closed the concert with a 45 minute-long performance spanning their 30-year career.


Led by singer Phil Oakey, the three-piece band played their hits Tell Me When, Don't You Want Me,and Mirror Man as well as the huge hit single, Together in Electric Dreams - it was a fitting finale to an electric, if not a damp, evening.