1982 was perhaps the golden year for British new wave/pop, peaking in maturity before it all turned to drivel.

The likes of Dexys, The Human League and The Associates came up with masterpiece albums, lush with imagination, which have stood the test of time.

Arguably the greatest of them all, though, was ABC's The Lexicon of Love.

A loosely based concept album of songs about loss and betrayal it had the potential to be a melancholic melange for misery moos, but instead became a joyous collection packed with anthemic works from tracks one to nine.

Which explains why the Phil was buzzing with anticipation for this rare reading of the Lexicon in full, complete with orchestral backing to mirror that on the original recording.

After a short break, came what the audience had been unashamedly waiting for - sexy Lexy in all its glory

Fifty-seven-year old crooner Martin Fry - a still-lithe-looking best man garbed in smart three piece suit and shiny shoes - has been billed as the only member remaining from the original LOL (if you pardon the expression) line-up.

But  that is not strictly true.

Conducting  the excellent Southbank Sinfonia was the youthful Anne Dudley, Academy award winner and founder member of sampler groundbreakers Art of Noise. 

It was she who came up with the signature strings and things that were moulded into place by producer Trevor Horn - the George Martin of his day - and which gave Lexicon its enchanting, singular appeal.

In fact, on this their first collaborative work together, you can hear echoes of the daubings she and Horn brought most notably to Frankie Goes To Hollywood's lavish soundscapes that were belched forth a couple of years later.

All of this ephemera made it a special night for pop trainspotters but even more so for those who have just come along to, well, er, sing along.

They had to wait a bit as the first half - apart from the wonderful opener, When Smokey Sings - was a grab bag of the more obscure together with new confections that Fry hinted may be the ground zero for another orchestral-based venture.

One of them, Flames of Desire, making its stage debut, has the hallmarks of instant classic driven along by the horns and strings with Fry's versatile voice diving and ducking over the top.

Which all bodes well for a resurrected ABC.

But then that's another story.

For, after a short break, came what the audience had been unashamedly waiting for - sexy Lexy in all its glory.


One of the greater aspects of the album are Fry's lyrics: moon-in-June simplicity that belies his understanding of love and, sometimes, its pitfalls which any romantic, old or new, can identify with.

You can also dance to it - after a fashion.

Before the opening chords of Poison Arrow had even been struck the whole of the Phil was on its feet to indulge in a spate of the most blatant mad dad - not to mention mum  - dancing that you'll ever have the misfortune to see.

It proceeded to carry on through the rest of the gig with the crowd clapping in time and warbling.

Indeed, during one magical moment in Look of Love, a chorus of a thousand responded with roared 'GOODBYE!' matching the muttered singular female voice response on the album to the line: "When your girl has left you out on the  pavement . . .”

The only diversion from the script was the swapping round of album finale 4 Ever 2 Gether for the sublime All Of My Heart, fading out with a spine-tingling tug of strings before a stomping reprise of Look of Love.

It was proof positive that Love really does conquer all.