If you’ve ever stopped to wonder just why 80s acts continue to be so enduringly popular after all these decades – given the number of newer, younger pop stars who have arrived to replace them – then an evening in the company of electro-pop stalwarts Erasure might just answer that question.
The duo – consisting of flamboyant frontman Andy Bell and songwriter/synth-wizard Vince Clarke – brought their current World Be Gone tour to London’s Eventim Apollo for two nights over the weekend – and in the course of an almost two-hour show proved more than a match for those 21st Century synthpop pretenders.
From the moment things kicked off – with a cheeky nostalgic nod to TV favourite Tales Of The Unexpected, before the pair (and their ever-present backing singers) launched into old favourite Oh L’Amour, much to the delight of the capacity crowd – the pace was pretty relentless as Andy and Vince reminded us just how many brilliant, brilliant songs Erasure have given us in their time.
It’s quite easy to forget just how stuffed with gems their back catalogue is, but they didn’t hesitate to remind us with a show that delivered hit after hit interspersed with newer material just as impressive as their run of late 80s/90s favourites.
Indeed, new tracks such as Just A Little Love, Sweet Summer Loving, Love You To The Sky and World Be Gone – the title track from their new album – made us realise that Erasure are still pretty hard to outdo on the synthpop front, and they sat more than comfortably alongside the crowd-pleasers we were all waiting for.
And they certainly didn’t disappoint on that front either, with the classic likes of Chains Of Love, Victim Of Love, Stop!, Drama, Who Needs Love Like That, Blue Savannah and Sometimes all stuffed into the main set – and an encore of A Little Respect which had every single person in the venue proving that they remembered all the words.
Heck, they even managed to shoehorn in a version of Blondie’s Atomic, as Andy Bell explained just how much he had loved Debbie Harry growing up.
But there was a whole lot more to this than simply a bunch of synthpop classics on a Saturday night – because Erasure don’t just give you the music but give you the whole experience, from the simple but effective neon-drenched stage (just how many different coloured lights can one band deliver in a single show?) through to Bell’s witty asides as he chatted to the audience. And, at one point, stripped off that spangly costume of his to perform the rest of the show in a snug, printed bodystocking.
Heck, the fact he can wear that in front of an audience of thousands at the age of 53 makes us fortysomethings feel so much better about our own sartorial choices now.
If there were any quibbles it would be in the setlist itself when, towards the end, having gotten the entire audience on its feet with the triple whammy of Atomic, Drama and Stop!, the band threw in the significantly lower-key numbers Love You To The Sky and Always before getting the crowd going again with Sometimes – which after those slower tracks felt like a bit of an anti-climax.
A longer encore might also have been welcome given how many hits went unsung – we’d love to have heard Star, or Love To Hate You or even those awesome Abba cover versions which got them to number one in 1992.
Ultimately though this was every bit as spangly and shiny and entertaining as we’d hoped – and in an age when artists seem to take themselves way too seriously it’s always refreshing to see that the likes of Erasure still know how to have fun – and ensure that their audience does too.
Erasure’s album World Be Gone is out now.
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