@ O2 Apollo, Manchester
February 8, 2018
Growing up as a young rock fan in the eighties, Erasure were always one of my guilty listening pleasure. Alien totally to the rest of my hard-edged and heavier musical tastes. Since seeing them on the 1988 Innocents tour our pasts have crossed irregularly over the years. While I kept in touch with their subsequent album releases I had not actually managed to see them in a live capacity since the late 90s.I was fortunate enough that I had the recent opportunity to make up for lost time. After personally subscribing to last year’s band released Pledge album World Be Gone, I was happy that the band would be touring including a local Manchester date to promote that release.
Securing a lofty viewing position in the venues circle area I settled down for an evening of perfectly crafted pop melodies and dodgy dancing from a generation old enough to know better. Slightly later than billed Erasure opened with the classic “Tales of the Unexpected Tv Series Theme” with the silhouettes of the two female backing dancers/singers being displayed on two screens one on either side of the stage. The stage set was not as elaborate as I had seen on previous tours with two doors/arches and Vince Clarke on a raised and lofty vantage point between the two arches. Opening with “Oh L’Amour,” the sold-out crowd were instantly prompted to leave their seats in the circle and stand and attempt their dance moves joining their fellow fans downstairs in a mass ,singalong. Andy Bell chose to sing this opening number sat astride a chair rather than exhibiting his usual dance moves. Continuing with “Ship of Fools” from the aforementioned The Innocents album helped to continue with the party atmosphere.
The Erasure set-list was a bit of a hit and miss affair. The problem with a band of such longevity is what to include and what to leave out. Fitting in a selection from the latest release meant that I felt the pacing of the set came over as a little disjointed. Fans are always going to want to hear the hits, sadly for many in the audience I don’t think that they have stuck with the band and actually purchased any or many of the bands post eighties/nineties releases. Thus, the hits and tracks like “Victim of Love”, “Blue Savannah” and “Stop” generated instant recognition and a party atmosphere with mass singalongs and dancing. Unfortunately, songs from the recent album such as “Take me out of Myself” and “Sweet Summer Loving” less recognizable to the majority led to the fans occupying the seated circle around me to retake their seats and not actively engage or participate. On a positive note it did appear that the audience downstairs were more receptive to the newer tracks. Perhaps the circle was occupied by an older generation who were only fans of the classic hits era and period of the band. The new songs are still perfectly crafted and they delivered a simply stunning version of “World Be Gone,” which for me personally is on a par with any of their former hits.
One thing that was apparent throughout the show was that Andy’s vocals were as strong as they had always been. Even his pirouettes and dance moves when displayed belied the advancing years. Erasure have been known for their cover versions and they squeezed in a very energetic version of “Blondies Atomic”. Encoring with “A Little Respect” saw Vince descend from his lofty pedestal to join the backing singers and Andy on the stage with a guitar to lead the crowd in a mass singalong as the stage lighting finally came alive in a rainbow of brightness and colours. This Erasure UK tour is as extensive in terms of number of dates as any that they had previous played. Most of those being sold out. Have the band thus attained a new generation of fans who have taken and embraced their recent releases or rather is it merely the eighties era of fans seeking to revisit their youth through the songs that formed their upbringing?. I hope that those long-term fans will be tempted to seek out the bands extensive and quality back catalogue after they have enjoyed their retro time travel of the concert. In conclusion Erasure still deliver a top night of entertainment and fun, they have moved forward in their career progression and still release brilliant albums. Sadly, for many they remain intransigent in what they will embrace musically in terms of new offerings from them.