AUDIO PREVIEW: ABC's Martin Fry talks Lexicon Of Love tour, gold lamé suits and new album ahead of Sheffield City Hall homecoming

MARTIN Fry cropped his floppy fringe and ditched the gold lamé suits years ago - but the voice of iconic eighties chart-toppers ABC admits he still has the Look Of Love for his beloved Sheffield.

Thursday, 11th April 2019, 3:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th April 2019, 3:59 pm
ABC's Martin Fry

Poison Arrow, Tears Are Not Enough, All Of My Heart and The Look Of Love all began life in the city.

Now, almost 40-years on, he can't wait to return to his "spiritual home" with a full orchestra to perform all their biggest hits including, in its entirety in the first half, classic debut album The Lexicon Of Love.

When Smokey Sings, The Night You Murdered Love, Ocean Blue, plus The Flames Of Desire and Viva Love, from 2016's The Lexicon Of Love II, will follow in the second half at Sheffield City Hall this Saturday, April 13.

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LISTEN: Martin Fry talked exclusively to Graham Walker about the Lexicon Of Love orchestra tour, what actually happened to those gold lamé suits and new album plans. You can hear the interview in full - CLICK HERE.

Conduct the 50-piece Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra he's returning with Anne Dudley, who provided all the original and lush signature orchestrations before she went on to become part of Art Of Noise and - embracing her Sheffield connections - later won an Oscar for her score of 1998's The Full Monty. She also served as music producer for the film version of Les Misérables, acting as arranger and composing some new additional music.

In an exclusive chat ahead of the show - hear it in full here - Martin took a trip back down memory lane as he revealed how ABC, the epitome of eighties glamour, actually started out wearing jumble sale bargains in a derelict house where he once lived and rehearsed in Barber Crescent.

ABC's Martin Fry

But he was soon wearing those gold lame suits, made by the same tailor who dressed T-Rex legend Marc Bolan, as their hits filled debut album reached the top spot in the UK and went global.

Inspired by Sinatra and powered by Chic, a fusion of big band, disco funk and post-punk new wave, ABC with it debonair front man and big, lush orchestral pop trademark sound. joined city legends Heaven 17 and The Human League to dominate the pop scene with the likes of Duran Duran and Culture Club.

Martin, now 61, originally from Stretford, Manchester, who arrived in the city to study at the university in 1976, married a local girl and had to children, and though work took them around the world. But does he still have the Look Of Love for Sheffield?

"Absolutely. Viva love," he replies.

That Was Then....ABC's original 1980s lne up of David Palmer, Mark White, Martin Fry and Stephen Singleton. Photo LJ van Houten REX

"I play shows all around the world but to come to Sheffield, as ever, it will be something very, very special.

"Sheffield is my spiritual home. I don't say that to be sentimental or to try and win votes. It's just how it is. No matter where you travel. It's always there in my heart. My wife's from Sheffield. All her family are from Sheff."

He was one of the headline acts who performed for free to rise more than £70,000 at a charity concert at the City Hall to pay for the Women Of Steel statue that now stands outside. His mum-n-law was a Sheffield steel worker.

Martin is excited to be back to perform The Lexicon Of Love, originally produced by Trevor Horn and showcasing his pop flamboyance and rock swagger, packed with his witty lyrics dealing with treachery and heartache.

ABC's iconic 80s album The Lexicon Of Love will be performed live by Martin Fry with the 50 piece Southbank Sinfonia Orchestra conducted by The Full Monty Oscar winner Anne Dudley

He first performed it with an orchestra, with Anne at the helm, 10-years ago. Now the show is in popular demand year after year.

"it was interesting integrating an orchestra. We didn't want it to be like full orchestra and you can't hear the band. So we took a long time working on the arrangements to make sure that it all works together as a show and it's kind of worked out great.

"ABC formed in 1980-81 and have made nine albums. So, as the years rolled by you you're not going to put on the show that you put on in 1983. The audience has been faithful to us all these years are the hardest to please. There's a legacy of ABC music that has to be right on stage. And that's where this show has comes from.

"It's important in my mind in 2019 to put on the best show possible because if I didn't do that, it wouldn't be right for the ex-members. It wouldn't be right for the audience. It wouldn't be right in my mind. If we were doing something half cocked or something that wasn't ambitious and wasn't special and that's why the tour we are doing is like an extravaganza on stage. There will be with about 50 people on stage, providing those moments - and the audience is a massive part of it.

"Through the years people have said it's a classic album. For me it was great experience and one of many albums. But when people say it's a classic album you realise you've got a responsibility to it and if they're talking about it in the same terms as Tommy by The Who or Ziggy Stardust by Bowie, or Let It Be, or something - you've got to present the record the right way.

"We made sure it all integrated and sounded great together. You don't want to kind of throw an orchestra in there crudely and then put some cherries on top of the blancmange, you know, and kind of try and cram it all in. It has to be done the right way and with Anne Dudley at the helm, it’s meant that it kind of it all pulls together. Also a conductor has to make sure that the orchestra is on its game every single night and when she holds that baton they listened to her and respect her.

"I've got a couple of the old gold lamsuits. That's my pension," laughs ABC legend Martin Fry

“To stand in front of an orchestra it’s like, I’ve never flown a jumbo jet, but I imagine it's a little bit like that, you know, you have all this power behind you and you got to land it and make sure it lands safely.

"So there's an excitement in the air when we play. We play a lot of different types of shows. But this this is one of the most exciting ways of doing it for me.

After three decades it resulted in the 2016 top five sequel, which looks at love from today's perspective.

He's not discounted a Lexicon of Love III but is currently writing and recording songs, which he describes as similar to SOS and United Kingdom, with a working album title of The House Of Ill Repute.

Martin said: "It might be a bit audacious to have another Lexicon of Love album but there might be a three down the line, in the future

He outlined new album plans and said some new material might even be previewed on the new tour.

"We're making a new record writing and recording some new songs. Upbeat songs. We're just just pulling it together now. It's got a working title The House Of Ill Repute. That's what it's called at the moment. Our records all have about 17 titles," he added.

“It's a bit like chipping away at a sculpture. There's a couple of songs like SOS and United Kingdom which really chime with the feeling today, so I might pull those out of the box, but I'm going to sit down with Anne Dudley and go through the the charts basically, by that I mean all the song books and the violin parts and the viola parts for the orchestra and work out how to run the set. It might be we even do a couple of new song. sitting on the side, ready to go."

Harking back to the past and explaining the glamour of it all he revealed it all actually began at jumble sales.

He said: "The clothes and stuff, the image of the band came from going to jumble sales and picking out tweed suits - granddad's suit or some waistcoat, stuff that somebody's grandma had put on the jumble sale and from that came this whole attitude really, the swagger that means when you walk into a bar, you know, you look totally different from everybody else.

"I think that flamboyance was definitely what fuelled a lot of 80s pop. It was a kind of wind up. It was just trying to get attention. So yeah, I'm sure it was a you know running up and down West Street from bar to bar. You would be chased down the street sometimes.That’s a grit tradition in music. The rebellious spirit.

"As the years went by the tailoring improved a little bit. I went down to the Kings Road in a guy made the gold lame suit for as a guy that used to make suits for Marc Bolan. It was a kind of audacious move move really, for a guy on the number 97 bus. I guess we were day dreaming of the world to come.

"I think that flamboyance was definitely what fuelled a lot of 80s pop. It was a kind of wind up. It was just trying to get attention. So yeah, I'm sure it was a you know running up and down West Street from bar to bar. You would be chased down the street sometimes.That’s a grit tradition in music. The rebellious spirit.

He's now wearing classic suits made by the likes of Ozwald Boateng and William Hunt in Savile Row.

So what ever happened to the lamé suits?

“I’ve got a gold lamé tuxedo that Willie Hunt made for me I've got a couple of the old gold lamé suits. That's my pension," he laughed.

"I guess. Yeah. I'm going to give them to my kids so they can go to Sotheby’s one day."


Tickets are available from venues and and

Sun 07 Apr 2019 Southend Cliffs Pavilion

Mon 08 Apr 2019 Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre

Tue 09 Apr 2019 Birmingham Symphony Hall

Thu 11 Apr 2019 Gateshead Sage 1

Sat 13 Apr 2019 Sheffield City Hall

Mon 15 Apr 2019 Brighton Dome

Tue 16 Apr 2019 London Royal Albert Hall


Twitter: @ABCFRY

The live show will also feature greatest hits such as radio favourites The Flames Of Desire and Viva Love from Lexicon Of Love II
"Sheffield is my spiritual home. I don't say that to be sentimental or to try and win votes," says Martin, who still has The Look Of Love for his beloved adopted city.