Dateline – FERNDALE, MICHIGAN
The Magic Bag
10 July 2022
“I like this club. I think I’m moving to Ferndale. London’s over!” ABC’s Martin Fry, flashing a gold-lamé blazer, made fast friends of the sellout crowd at the Magic Bag theater on 10 July 2022 in Ferndale, Michigan. The crowd responded in kind, shaking our groove things to the soulful punk/disco sounds of these New Romantics. Martin and the lads seemingly have traveled forward in time from 1982 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of The Lexicon of Love.
Following a series of symphonic shows in the UK, ABC stateside are now a tight, talented group of five young(ish) Romantics, in addition to the old(er) Romantic. The posh drama and irony of the ’80s videos have faded for Martin, replaced by a grateful and gracious pop partriarch. His pipes are still strong, and he mixed his blue-eyed bellow with a fair amount of falsetto.
As for the band, Toshi Yanagi (Jimmy Kimmel band) handles the Nile Rodgers disco guitar, and blasted a brilliant solo on “Tears are not Enough” (see below). Daniel Mandela plays keys, capturing ABC’s baroque vibe with a spot-on harpsichord sound. The rhythm section of Andy Carr on bass (5 strings at his disposal) and Peter Maloney (ex-Dishwalla) on drums is rock solid and funky as hell. And stuffed in the back corner of the Bag’s tiny stage was triple-threat Robert “Bobby” Hughes on tenor sax, keyboards and background vocals. Bobby stole the show, sneaking out from the shadows, and blowing some super-boss tenor tone.
We’re big on the retro-80s thing here in Ferndale. ABC’s crowd was no different, singing along to the big hits like “Poison Arrow,” “Be Near Me,” and “When Smokey Sings.” On “The Look of Love” late in the set, Martin had a bit of trouble with his wireless mic. No worries… the crowd took over. He got his mic sorted and appeared ready to restart the song, but looked up surprised and pleased that we’d covered him and simply joined back in.
In addition to ABC’s killer set, this show was notable for having no merch table – a new one on me. The opener-free evening began promptly at 8, and ended 90 minutes later. We were down the street eating pizza before many headliners even take the stage. Like Mr. Fry, I am a man of a certain age and appreciated getting the babysitter home early on a Sunday evening. Gawd, I hope I’m aging as gracefully as Martin Fry.
“Tears are not Enough” was the highlight for me. Here’s my eyewitness video:
For more information on ABC’s US tour, check their official Web site: abcmartinfry.com