Arts Diary: MUSIC Tony Hadley vs Martin Fry, Philharmonic Hall.





I SENSED we were in for a strange night when a suited and booted Martin Fry and Tony Hadley entered singing Up, Up and Away (in my beautiful balloon) not exactly what I expected of a master of pop and an old New Romantic. .


After a lively joint rendition of Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed Delivered, I'm Yours the pair took turns to hog the stage.


Martin went first, opening up the ABC songbook with Tears Are Not Enough and Poison Arrow. Tears was unremarkable and while Poison Arrow should have been magnificent the band sounded cluttered and Martin's beautiful vocals would have benefited from more volume.


An early rendition of Spandau Ballet's True from Tony Hadley went down well and Through the Barricades brought a lump to the throat.


The rest of the first act was rather nondescript.


In the second act things really got moving. A couple of covers out of the way and we were finally into the ``Hits'' section.


Martin dragged the hall to its feet with ABC's classic When Smokey Sings, where we stayed for the timeless The Look of Love then passed the baton back to Tony for Spandau's Instinction and the much-awaited Gold.


While impressive, the finale and encore featuring Let's Stick Together and That Lovin' Feeling were pretty much a postscript.


Martin and Tony are both consummate performers but with only half a dozen numbers of their own, the rest of the show had a karaoke feel.