Wednesday 23 August 2017

ABC at The Olympia: A riveting showcase of classic escapist pop

Gig Review: ABC at The Olympia, Dublin

ABC's Martin Fry
ABC's Martin Fry
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

“I’d like to take you back in my time machine to an age before there were smart phones,” announces dapper ABC front man Martin Fry a few songs into a set that serves up generous portions of 80s comfort food. 

The Sheffield pop ‘band’ are now essentially his musical vehicle as the sole founding member. Resplendent in a three-piece suit and gold-plated black shoes, Fry looks exactly how you’d expect a one-time voice coach for Hugh Grant to carry themselves, sporting a very debonair take on a Las Vegas revue show. There is no messing around warming up the crowd as they're straight out of the traps with When Smokey Sings. 

The bassist is a peculiar dead ringer for Ben Stiller while Tracy Graham does a great job as Fry’s female foil. A batch of new songs from this year’s Lexicon of Love II album are aired with one entitled Viva Love. “We’re wondering if the world is still a romantic place despite recent events,” Fry reflects. 

Fry is a great performer and raconteur, recalling fighting the punk wars in Sheffield by getting beaten up in pubs for wearing a gold lamé suit. “You probably spend your Friday nights watching Adam and the Ants and Soft Cell on BBC 4,” he laughs, which nails the insatiable modern fascination to revisit an era when gigantic mobile phones only appeared in Wham! videos. 

Yet there is more to ABC in 2016 than mere nostalgia. The new songs shimmer and sparkle, while Shoot that Poison Arrow has everyone on their feet making finger gestures and singing along to every word. 

In an uncertain world, ABC deliver a riveting showcase of classic escapist pop.  

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