Erasure are my brother’s favourite band yet they’ve always been a take it or leave it band for myself. I know so many people consider Vince Clarke a musical genius but I just find the retro-shanty synths out of date with my own, more modern, tastes. Please don’t forget that that’s my opinion and I am mostly always wrong.
I thought it was important to explain this up front before I launched into how absolutely incredible Erasure were live. Following an energetic opening set courtesy of Bright Light Bright Light, I felt thoroughly in the mood for more eighties pop and Erasure emphatically delivered. Andy Bell prowled the stage, controlling the crowd and pausing in between songs to chat about whatever came into his mind at that moment while Vince Clarke cut a shadowy figure atop a giant neon structure, and two backing singers danced in large neon frames on either side.
After the first song, Oh L’Amour, Bell explained he had a croaky voice but I doubt any of us could tell given he performed each song immaculately. He wore an ironic sequined Thrasher magazine long sleeve t-shirt with a pentagram on the back that was fabulous and wonderfully camp.
In the Grand Circle, where I was sat, the crowd did a sort of slowed-down Mexican Wave that unfolded as the show progressed, with us on our feet for the uptempo and popular ones and back on our seats for the slower or less well known ones (mostly from the new album World Be Gone). Often our decision to stand or sit was dictated by front row fans who recognised the song instantly and turned to instruct us to stand.
What hit home was just how many extraordinarily good songs Erasure have. A wise man once said “you don’t really know a song until you’ve heard it live” (that wise man being Tom from McFly on the BBC’s Eurovision: You Decide show last week). Even so, the point felt valid tonight. Songs that I find too repetitive and thin on record were elevated by Bell’s vocal, glorious flashing coloured neon, and a 2,200 crowd in rapturous delight.
Fans and casuals alike can have no complaints on the set list tonight. 24 songs spanning their whole career including all the hits, a few rarities and five from the new album. A few of my favourites were Chains of Love, Victim of Love and Who Needs Love Like That. Now I’ve written that out I realise that all those songs have the word ‘love’ in. While the older songs have an element of nostalgia to them they still sounded fresh, filling the whole venue.
“Can you believe that song came out in 1986,” Bell says at one point, “I wasn’t even alive in 1986!”. As I get older this rings truer by the day – things can’t be that old because that means I am just as old, if not older. I’m sure the forty plus average-aged crowd had the same thoughts.
After a brief pause around the two hour mark they came back to finish off with the classic A Little Respect. The place went wild. It was also at that point I realised that my left ear was numb from the person behind me’s piercing whistling that had been going on the entire performance. What a night!
For more on Erasure and their tour click here.