ABC playing live in hamburg. Again - just like they did on February 2nd 1983. That night they performed "The Lexicon of Love" - this time, on Dezember 12th, 2016 they present the Viva Love Tour - from "The Lexicon of Love II".
That was then, but what is now?
Well, only Singer Martin Fry is still there. And the venue has changed as well. Back then the gig was played at the "Musikhalle" (now "Laeiszhalle") - originally booked mostly for classical music. This time the ABC Show comes to the "Gruenspan", a club that once was well known for drug parties and hippie music - but that has been cleared a while ago. And the live strings are missing in 2016.
Then again, ABC are running for much longer then some critics thought "they" would. After the courageous, and nearly suicidal noise of "Beauty Stab" they hit back with "Be Near Me" in the States. Later followed by some radio hits all over europe - including the evergreen "When Smokey Sings".
The curse of a classic
The grace, the glamour, the Karl Marx quotes, the deconstructed love lyrics - can the artist who crafted The Lexicon Of Love and the album itself still have any significance 34 years later? Well the answer is obvious: No. The impact of music has changed. No one is seriously considering music as a driving force nowadays; it's everywhere and nowhere at once. No place where you can escape, no place where you can celebrate pop music.
So where does that put "The Lexicon Of Love Part II"? It's not a bad album, but probably does not connect with people younger than 40. A look around in the audience confirms this. But we are all looking forward to catch swoon - "like we did last summer" - 34 years ago.
From Motown to the ever lasting question
Before the band takes the stage, we are treated to a Country Music Duo - who put that together? Thereafter the PA plays Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man" Soundtrack. Then the hymn to the other Motown Legend opens the show. And that works perfectly. The german crowd reacts enthusiastically and a lot of people actually know the words to the 80s Northern Soul Beat. From then on it's a smooth ride for Martin, the six boys plus backing Singer Tracy. Yes his voice still works - even if the highest notes are passed on to the dame - and he looks fresh, happy and healthy. The band is on point and even the saxophonist - who also plays several other instruments and often stood upfront - fitted in nicely. Apart from the one thing, the one thing, i did find (see below)
Even though the new tunes from the latest album do not cause such strong reactions while being performed, the audience do react warmly when they're finished and applauded. We are treated to many tunes form the first "Lexicon", one each of "Beauty Stab" and "Zillionaire" plus a few more from "Alphabet City" and - of course - the second Lexicon. Finally the only big hit in Germany, "The Look Of Love" is played as the only encore; "Martin one day you'll find true love - i say: maybe here in Hamburg?"
The band seemed to be happy with the crowd*s reaction. The audience loves to feel young again for the period of an evening. Of course it would've been wrong to expect the future of pop music on this stage tonight.
Martin Fry is a Rock Musician?
Still there's one thing that got on my nerves. While the musicians where smartly dressed in suits and black ties, the appearance of a "Flying V" guitar made my neck hair stand up. And for sure, four or five tracks are nearly murdered by the always unnecessary guitar solo. This has always been the cheapest way to be lazy, to be able to play less tunes on the tour. So 3 minute perfect pop songs become 6 minutes endless doodling. When this happened i feared that Martin Fry's deepest wish was indeed to front Deep Purple. Thank God that after four songs, that guitar was put away again, and we could continue enjoying the songs. So on with the third chapter of the Lexicon in 2050.
Video by Modschiedler87