There’s nothing overly complicated about Erasure’s live shows. The electro-pop duo, like their audience, just want to have fun. And that’s what was had at the Corn Exchange last night.
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In town on a 58-date tour to promote 16th album, Violet Flame, Erasure’s lead singer Andy Bell entered the room in typically understated fashion: sporting a glittery top-hat ‘n’ tails, and wraparound shades, he immediately launched into a camp, tone-setting version of Oh L’amour before half the audience had a chance to reach for their mobile-phone cameras.
Flanked by two afro-wigged backing singers, the bored-looking half of Erasure (Vince Clarke), on the other hand, cut the appearance of some businessman sending emails from a coffee table in Starbucks as he busied away on his laptop. But that’s Vince’s look. The only time he got up was to occasionally strum the acoustic guitar or give his singer a kiss.
The audience, meanwhile, were having a rare time. Ranging from young gay men and grannies in their sixties, to 40-somethings and trendy aficionados of electro music, Erasure’s diverse fan-base creates a lively, non-self-conscious atmosphere. For every time a well-known hit tune came around – Stop, Chains Of Love, Sometimes, there was no shortage – it was like singing down the pub with your mates.
Songs from the duo’s latest album, however, were a bit too fresh out the can for the audience to find the required enthusiasm, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Erasure is a nostalgia act. Far from it. Visually, they’re no Pet Shop Boys, either, but then, when you have good songs, charisma, and some electric furry dice, who needs expensive stage sets?
Despite his two hip replacements and well-documented health problems, Bell was bang on form. The 50-year-old can still boogie (the days of doing the splits are long gone), and as evidenced during A Little Respect, can still hit the high notes, too. Bell also seemed to have plenty to say between songs; sadly, the venue’s poor acoustics meant it was virtually impossible to make out what he was saying.
Whatever he said, though; he, like everyone else, appeared to be having fun.