IS HAMPTON Pool the new natural home for 80s nostalgia music?
With Midge Ure on the way to the twee poolside garden this week and ABC having gone through their era-defining ballads on Saturday night, maybe it is.
Not that the picnic environment would suit every band that made a name for itself in the post-flares world that also spawned Punk. Maybe getting Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols to agree to a gig there would be pushing it and a challenge to the 11pm curfew enforcers.
ABC, though, seemed to be a good fit – if you could get past the idea of the scaling down of venue from their heyday. Not so long ago, Fry played out his hits at the Albert Hall.
Certainly, dapper front man Martin Fry managed to convince us that this was a good a place as any to soak up a little trip down memory lane.
Dressed in a sharp suit that epitomised his cool New Romantics look, Fry and his six-piece band guided us through the hits that tumbled out of the band's seminal album – Lexicon of Love.
They gave it the same feel as the tightly constructed studio album, which was as a highly polished piece of production in its day.
The orchestral flavour was still there, with Rob Hughes' saxophone and the sumptuous backing vocals of percussionist Lily Gonzalez giving the sounds their familiar depth.
Fry is a chirpy, self-deprecating entertainer. The songs may be mostly about heartbreak – Poison Arrow, All of My Heart, Show Me, Tears are not Enough - but he is no miserabilist.
He is a man who may have outgrown the sentiments, but still loves the music, much like his audience of once-angst ridden teenagers.
Fry joked that he expected to be greeted by rows of cucumber-sandwich eating picnickers, but was pleasantly surprised to find his audience standing up and participating – joining in the familiar refrains.
He offered the suggestion that his followers must have been school kids in the 80s, so young did they look. It was a nice bit of tongue in cheek.
He also said he would return to the venue to sing along to the Ultravox hit Vienna with the audience when Ure rolls his musical wagons into town. Hampton Pool could be onto something here.