ABC In concert from Paris – February 14, 1983. ABC were at the forefront of New Wave – largely a reaction to the determined messiness of Punk, New Wave was the polar opposite. Clean, well turned-out, synthesizer-based, somewhat over-produced and perfect for the burgeoning market made possible by MTV in America, not to mention the rest of the world.
New Wave represented a backlash to Punk, a direct contrast from the two-chord wonders which sprang up between 1976 and 1980, New Wave had its roots in Disco with elements of Smooth Jazz tossed in along with breezy Pop. It had to axes to grind, didn’t make very much in the way of a social statement (most of them, anyway) and were a sort of nod to the new conservatism represented by the Thatcher Years in the U.K. and the Reagan Years in the U.S.
That’s not to say the world took New Wave to its heart and rejected everything else before it or different from it – but New Wave was decidedly commercial and easy to digest, and that’s why a lot of it became wildly successful (albeit not all that memorable). And bands like ABC found themselves crossing audiences regularly – they could feel just as much at home on Top-40 radio as they could with what was evolving into Easy Listening.
ABC were together from 1980-1991 (their first incarnation). Fronted by the suave and debonaire Martin Fry, ABC came to prominence in 1982, following the release of their milestone debut album The Lexicon Of Love, which went on to be regarded by many, including the highly influential magazine Q as one of the 100 Greatest British Albums. But similar accolades came from other publications – further evidence ABC signaled a return to the more conventional aspects of Pop Music, and laid the groundwork for a genre to expand and become a dominant force in Pop Music during the 1980s.
However you felt about ABC or New Wave in general, it became synonymous with the 1980s – and even though the Pop Culture aspect lent itself to ridicule over padded shoulders and over-the-top fashion, it was another evolution in Popular Music which paved the way for much of what we hear in mainstream Pop now.
So keep that in mind as your’e hearing this. It’s all about history – even though it’s about notes.
And the French audiences were pretty enthusiastic about it too.
A couple of caveats: the sound, though good for its age, gets a little creaky in spots, along with some tape dropout. It finally settles down, so bear with it for a minute or two. Also, the French announcer gets only slightly carried away, but carried away nonetheless. It’s history.