Erasure’s Andy Bell talks about going solo

Andy Bell' of Erasure. Pic: Comp
Andy Bell' of Erasure. Pic: Comp
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THE last time Erasure pop legend Andy Bell was in the Capital, he was playing a packed Corn Exchange.

His Fringe debut finds him in a far more intimate venue, Assembly 1, at George Square, but the singer is the first to admit that he is more than happy to find himself playing the smaller venue - after all, it’s brought him to the most famous arts festival in the world.

“I really like doing more left-field things, so I have always imagined doing a show at the Fringe,” he reveals.

“The venue is a bit of a lecture hall, so is a bit different to being in a theatre, but I am sure as long as I can make eye contact with the audience, I’ll be fine.”

Bell will perform his fourth solo album, Torsten The Bareback Saint, for 12 nights, until 16 August.

Described as a ‘highly dramatic one-man show’, he explains, “Torsten is a semi-immortal polysexual sensualist and I love playing him. This song-cycle was written for me and is the most challenging role of my career so far.”

Comprising 22 songs, the piece tells how Torsten is cursed to love many, yet get close to none, as his age-defying nature condemns him to watch his lovers grow old and die before him.

“The piece was written with me in mind by a guy called Barney Ashton,” says Bell. “And I do believe that’s because, while it is not based on my own personal experiences, a lot of the things do resonate with me.”

With whispers of Dorian Gray, Torsten, an eternal teenager throughout most of the 20th century, suddenly undergoes a growth spurt in the late 80s which brings him to the age of 42, then he stops ageing again.

“Quite a lot of the songs are about unrequited love, because Torsten was born in 1908 and he is still alive,” says Bell.

Despite the strength of the body, it’s Torsten’s spirit that suffers, getting old and tired as the drive and need to achieve gradually abandon him.

The lack of emotional ties torment his soul, having no choice but to leave all of his many lovers, one by one, before they discover the reality of his anomalous condition.

Bell continues, “All his lovers grow old and he sees them decay in front of his eyes, which isn’t very nice.”

Fans of the singer, who rose to fame in the 80s as one half of Erasure, with Vince Clarke, will discover something quite opposite to what they’re used to.

“It’s very different. The songs are quite personal and heart-wrenching, so there is a lot to get your teeth into, but I’m loving doing it. I just hope people can relate to some of them - I get quite teary.

“It’s quite a challenge, and tiring, but at least I’m not having to jump around, dancing.”

That’s what he will be doing in December, however, when he returns to the Capital with Erasure, to promote their new album The Violet Flame and single Elevation, both out in September.

“I feel like a local already,” he laughs.

Andy Bell: Is Torsten The Bareback Saint, Assembly 1, George Square, until 16 August, 6.30pm, £16-£19, 0131-226 0000