Things were going well. A sold-out Glasgow audience was showing up in good time, eager for the live debut of World Be Gone, the first Erasure studio album to hit the UK top ten since 1997. Openers Isgar – a touring outfit composed of members of The Swaps – provided just the right touch of low-key country brooding to keep interests piqued, with their closing number, Rage, introducing a mid-’80s Bryan Ferry vibe that proved a well-suited segue into what was to come.
Then, three songs into the main set, Andy Bell relayed the news that there was a fire in the building, and that we’d all have to evacuate. Despite the Daily Mail going for ‘blaze rips through venue’ as their breaking-news headline, we later found out it was just some smoke which had tripped the alarms, coming off an air conditioner valiantly attempting to offset the day’s near-thirty-degree heat.
But a more calm and collected crowd you couldn’t have asked for, and many whiled away the unplanned forty-five-minute interval by making up impromptu chants in the carpark. At least one person passed by me singing A Little Respect, too. As we requeued, folks showed their gratitude to the emergency services, shaking the hands of firefighters and cheering the engines as they slowly headed away.
Once back inside the O2 Academy, the evening continued exactly where it left off, Bell & Co kicking straight into an impeccable Love You to the Sky. Setting the template for the evening, this new single was followed by 1986’s Oh L’Amour, and from here the dancehall pace never let up for a moment. Bell’s dress sense and stage style were nothing less than enviable, his vocals gorgeously complemented by long-time backing singers Emma Whittle and Valerie Chalmers. Vince Clarke, meanwhile, appeared utterly unfazed by the sheer swelter inside, despite being impeccably decked out in three-piece suit and tie: he looked for anything like the world’s coolest bank manager, the benevolent boss behind his bank of synths and occasional acoustic guitar.
Being the first gig of the tour, Bell’s lyrics were occasionally in need of a wee nudge to synch up with the music – but on the whole, the energy coming off all four musicians more than made up for any minor missteps. Thanks to that venue-ripping blaze, things went on far past the scheduled curfew, meaning I lost out the last three songs to catch the bus back to Edinburgh. But no matter that I missed A Little Respect: I’d already caught the evening’s definitive version earlier on, outside.
For more information on Erasure and their tour click here.