ABC at the Royal Albert Hall review

8 April 2009

abc-albert-hall
The orchestra arrive on stage before much of the audience!

(Posted from my iPhone on the way home…)
If you’re going to do nostalgia, do it properly. And with this gig, ABC (which is only Martin Fry really) certainly did it properly. The best pop album of the last 30 years – The Lexicon of Love – played straight through, with a complete orchestra …and in the Albert Hall. Could it be any better?

Well yes, actually. Because this turned out to be a real reunion affair. David Palmer (nowadays Rod Stewart’s drummer) back for the first time since the album. Gary Langan on the sound desk. Tessa Niles out of retirement on backing vocals. Anne Dudley conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra. Even a rambling speech from Trevor Horn. And yes, the gold lame suit for the encore.

If the audience was emotional (and it was full of couples who looked like one or other of the tunes was “their song”) then I bet it was an even more lump-in-the-throat night for many of the performers. Sound a bit naff? You weren’t there in that case.

Fry has still got it, no question. The first 45 minutes were spent running through the non-“Lexicon” back catalogue, which contains more hits than you might think. Then after the break, a no-gimmicks run-through of The Album. I’d forgotten how complex some of the songs are, and Fry even looked nervous at times, but he hardly missed a word. And if he had, 4000 fans would have sung the right ones regardless. They loved it. Mrs R said afterwards: “it really makes you realize how second-rate the pop music of the past 20 years has been in comparison, doesn’t it?” and yeah, it might just have been an album which defines a time in our lives, but what a great album to have as our special one. After 27 years, it’s still wonderful to hear “axis” rhyme with “fascist”.

Update: The Lexicon of Love part of the show is on BBC Radio Two on Saturday night (11 April) – don’t miss it.

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Thanks to goodgrr for this:

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