Thursday, December 7, 2023
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ABC – Lexicon of Love: Live Review

Hitting their stride with an album that has served them and their listeners well, ABC reflects on Lexicon of Love with a live set. Leaving off Theme from Mantrap as though they are too big for their best song, the Martin Fry-led troop set the scene with Overture and work through a twenty-two-track set. Any great live record should conjure up the imagery of the band on stage for those listening at home. Fry yelling out that the listener looks good and storming into When Smokey Sings is a great beginning, and that momentum is held up by this Sheffield live set, full of charm and engaging the wondrous quality Lexicon of Love and beyond has within it. 

Warm and unbelieving, Fry finds himself staggered at the longevity of his and ABC’s work, as well as the forty years it has survived. He brandishes that charm on stage, his vocal range still as impressive now as it was all those years ago on the first record. Those that are rightly sceptical of a legacy act looking back on their finest work and re-recording it should feel a little comforted by Fry here. Earnest intentions, a desire to risk it all as he did with Lexicon of Love II, and everything he can give is left there on the stage. Disco funk and romance pair nicely for The Flames of Desire, each track sickly enough to make those James Bond-end credits string sections work nicely. Fry’s vocal range lies on top of that wonderfully.  

Standard bits and pieces flow through Ten Below Zero and One Better World, considerable and solid performances that keep the momentum flowing. Lexicon of Love: Live, is an album that punches through with moments of brilliance, the rest is as consistent as necessary. Breaking for a second half gives Fry and the band a lease of new life, Show Me and Poison Arrow explode as mighty, deserving renditions of those classic tracks. Latter track Poison Arrow is a gorgeous, necessary jolt of energy. Consistent groove is sometimes drowned out by those beautiful string sections, Tears Are Not Enough particularly, but the vocal presence from Fry is more than enough to bring it all together. 

Jealousy-inducing for those not in the crowd on this night, Lexicon of Love: Live is a powerhouse showcase of everything ABC accomplished. Two go-arounds of The Look of Love signal both a love for the track and a need to give the fans what they want. A shimmering end to the album brings out 4 Ever 2 Gether and All of My Heart, lovely and heartfelt renditions. Lexicon of Love is still a noir powerhouse from the streets of musically gifted Sheffield, and Lexicon of Love: Live will sit nicely on the shelf of those wanting to gather up remnants of retold history. There is stunning work to be found throughout this and much of it relies on Fry, whose vocal range and turns are still as impressive now as they were all those years ago. He has taken the risk, and along with ABC, they power through with a good turn of intensity.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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