With the Good Luck Joes. Friday, June 9, at the House of Blues.
by Dan LeRoy
It's difficult to imagine Britain's most dapper blue-eyed soul man (still frighteningly comfortable in gold lamé) sleeping in caves on the grueling climb to Venezuela's fabled Lost World. But Martin Fry of ABC, who undertook the trek last February to raise money for medical research, says that crooning his back catalog helped him reach the summit of 9,200-foot Mount Roraima. "I did a bit of training beforehand, but I guess treading the boards, jumping around singing 'Poison Arrow' and 'The Look of Love' -- that's what got me ready," he jokes.
Those impeccably tailored MTV hits, from ABC's 1982 debut The Lexicon of Love, remain Fry's calling card. And the singer, now finishing the group's first new album in a decade, doesn't mind. "It's a great privilege to get onstage and sing those songs. 'The Look of Love' is so ridiculous and yet uplifting that everybody always smiles and looks at each other like 'Is it OK if we sing along?'" Fry says with a chuckle. "And they always do."
ABC Concert Review by Famed Rock Photog Julz Finley
I hadn’t been to a show in a few months, pretty much because the very few shows that came through town either totally sucked or I got to the venue and there was no place to park. With that said I flipped through the local arts paper and saw that ABC would be playing at The House of Blues, and it was a Friday night nonetheless. Perfect! Now, is this the same ABC I was thinking of? The one with the swank Martin Fry and his gold suit who sung “Poison Arrow”… or was it the other ABC (aka Another Bad Creation) the one with the little kids who were rapping about some girl named “Iesha”. Or… was it some other band that didn’t realize there were already 2 bands called ABC, and named themselves that who were some local act that does Dave Matthews/Creed cover songs? Well… THANK GOD it was my initial guess! The ABC I went to see was the one with Martin Fry, but to be honest, I am not sure how many other original members were present. I didn’t really care, as long as Martin Fry was there!
With that said, I always loved the way Martin Fry crooned… a missing link between Bryan Ferry (gasp!) and that putz from Spandau Ballet. ABC weren’t as lame as Spandau Ballet, but not as cool as Roxy Music… but for an 80’s band, they were really fucking good! There were so many god-awful bands from the 80’s that were mainstream, and ABC had their hits, but their hits were good songs (not annoying shit like “Everybody Wang-Chung tonight!”) Speaking of hits… they performed “Poison Arrow” as the 3rd song in the set. I thought that was kind of surprising since it is such a signature song of theirs… but they of course have to keep the audience engaged! Speaking of the audience, lets just say that ABC has an enormous gay following, which was fine by me… every concert I’ve ever been to with a primarily gay audience, have always shown good concert etiquette… good mannered and conscientious of others. Most concerts I end up standing behind the 6’5”douchebag who’s drunk, unbathed, and flicks his cigarette ashes in my face… and absolutely has no regard for the fact I am shooting photos… just stands there like a fucking stump! At this show… the tall guy made it a point to allow me to stand in front of him so I can get a good angle, and I appreciated that… that NEVER happens!
Anyhow, aside to the audience being fine and dandy, the show was really well-done. Martin Fry is a really good showman, and he had a lot of audience interaction. He seemed genuinely happy to be performing, and it was his first time ever playing in Cleveland. They also did a lot of songs from their upcoming album (which melded well with their hits, they were pretty seamless and the audience were totally into it). They did all of their signature hits “How to Be a Millionaire”, “Be Near Me”, and the audience went nuts when they did “When Smoky Sings”. However, the icing on the cake was the encore, when they did my personal favorite “The Look of Love”. I had a great time, and they performed flawlessly. Martin didn’t wear the gold suit, but he was sporting an orangey-yellow silk suit, and he looked debonair. In certain angles and lights, he kind of looks like a blonde Morrissey.