Thursday, 05 August 2021

Why reinterpreting the Eighties is as easy as...

HE’S performed around the world and was one of the few British musicians to “break America”

HE’S performed around the world and was one of the few British musicians to “break America” — but Martin Fry says playing in Henley is a homecoming.

The ABC frontman will appear alongside his band at this year’s Rewind Festival on Saturday, August 22. Fry is a Rewind veteran, having featured at the first event in 2009 and also playing at the festival’s sister show in Scotland.

But despite his jet-setting lifestyle, Fry says Rewind in Henley is still the best venue in the world.

He said: “I’ve played Rewind many times and it’s always a pleasure — it’s unique.

“It’s like a homecoming for us. We do a lot of shows, but living in North London it’s so close to Henley. I’m usually back home in bed the same evening — I’m not one for glamping!

“When the sun’s shining it’s the best location in the world and the best crowd too. We have the best spot — on the Saturday evening when the sun climbs high in the sky — and I’m going to take the crowd higher this time.

“I’m a keen cyclist, so I like Henley anyway — I could even cycle there from my house on the day!”

ABC shot to fame in 1982 when their debut album The Lexicon of Love hit the number one spot. They had 10 top 40 singles in the next decade as well as success across the Atlantic.

Fry became renowned for his flamboyant dress sense, most memorably a gold lamé suit, but has promised a more demure look at Rewind.

He said: “These days I don’t have the gold suit but we will all still be looking sharp. We aren’t a cut-off jeans band — you won’t see me in Daisy Dukes!

“We are recording a new album and might play a few songs from that at the festival. But really it’s all about the big hits — and they still get a massive reaction from the crowd.

“Dave Edmunds was the first record I ever bought, so I might stick around to watch him perform on Sunday. I’ve been in the backstage area before, though, and it’s carnage!

“Looking at the bill, there’s the fireworks listed at the end of the evening, so really we are all just support acts for that.”

During the height of his fame, Fry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma — a type of cancer — and had to take a break from performing. But while he says he is lucky to have made a full recovery, he doesn’t think of Rewind as making up for lost time.

He said: “I was very ill in the late Eighties and couldn’t play live, but I don’t see it like that. When you’re up on stage you’ve got to be in 2015.

“We can’t play with people’s expectations, and that’s the challenge. I’ve had a long career and been very fortunate in many ways. The audience makes you feel new again and you have to be in the moment.

“It’s about motivating yourself. If you aren’t up for it, the audience knows instantly. I definitely get the same buzz now that I did at the start. The difference is we have more hits, so we get to play for longer!” Fry says the success of Rewind is “phenomenal” — with more than 40,000 people expected to attend this year’s festival.

He thinks it plays on fans’ nostalgia, but has very different memories of the Eighties himself.

He said: “The Eighties were never as big as Rewind is! We had a few albums and played the Hammersmith Apollo, but this is much bigger.

“The festival grows in size every year. I played the first one and it was phenomenal. I think they have stumbled across something that works no matter what age you are.

“Part of it is the minutiae and detail. It’s really a massive reinterpretation of the Eighties — it was never like that really. The costumes people wear are 10 years of the Eighties all in one outfit.

“It’s bonkers and highly enjoyable.”

To buy tickets for ABC or any other acts at this year’s festival, visit

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