Having been suitably warmed up by support act Bright Light Bright Light, whose synth pop torch songs from his album Choreography are enthusiastically received by tonight’s sell out audience, there is a tangible thrill of anticipation as the lights dim and Erasure take to the stage.

Initially shrouded in enough dry ice to asphyxiate a team of pit ponies, the mists eventually clear to reveal Vince Clarke – a man whose on-stage demeanour makes legendarily undemonstrative Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe look like Mr. Tumble – perched  in an eyrie  above the stage and flanked by an assortment of keyboards.

Clarke is an unlikely pop star; over the course of the evening he will demonstrate little desire to interact with the audience, or indeed his keyboards, preferring at times to strum a guitar or shake an LED-festooned tambourine.  None of that matters in the slightest, however,  as the audience are not here to gasp in wonder at Clarke’s instrumental prowess; they are here because he has penned a couple of dozen synth pop classics, each of which are so catchy that ear worms struggle to get them out of their heads. They are also here to bask in the warmth and sheer joy of singer Andy Bell’s vocals and, of course, to dance and sing along like there may be no tomorrow.

At the beginning of the week there was some doubt as to whether tonight’s gig would actually take place, as the first three dates of the tour had been cancelled at short notice due to illness.  Judging by the way Bell belts out opening number Oh, L’Amour, he seems recovered from whatever lurgy had laid him low but he does say that he might need a bit of help from the audience with some of the higher notes.  The audience, of course, is more than happy to help, almost doing the band’s two backing singers out of a job.

If all Erasure did was to play the contents of their Greatest hits album from start to finish I’m sure that no one here tonight  would complain but, looking down at the “fucking enormous” setlist, Bell says it would be boring just to play the hits and so we are treated to a selection of album tracks as well.  And such is the quality of Clarke’s songwriting that every tune is greeted like a long lost friend. Equally welcome is a tune that starts  out sounding a bit like Atomic by Blondie and happily turns out to be exactly that but bolstered by big bubbly beats.

And still, those hits!  Those singular singles!   Stop!, Drama!, and others without exclamation marks in their titles.  Chains Of Love, Victim Of Love, Blue Savannah.   Whenever one of these pieces of pop perfection pops up you think: “Ah, this is my favourite” , only to have it replaced by another favourite minutes later.  The best part of two hours rushes towards to the inevitable conclusion of Sometimes and the encore of A Little Respect which sees Clarke climb down from his eyrie to join Bell on the stage, sill oddly looking like he would rather be anywhere else than facing the adulation of a capacity audience on a sold out tour.  Who needs love like that?, not Clarke evidently but for as long as he and Bell are happy to bring out those hits, the crowds will keep on coming.  And so they should.

Setlist

Intro – Theme from Tales Of The Unexpected

Oh L’Amour

Ship of Fools

Breathe

Mad As We Are

Just a Little Love

In My Arms

Chains of Love

Sacred

Sweet Summer Loving

I Love Saturday

Victim of Love

Phantom Bride

World Be Gone

Take Me Out of Myself

Who Needs Love Like That

Blue Savannah

Atomic

Drama!

Stop!

Here I Go Impossible Again

Always

Lousy Sum of Nothing

Sometimes

 

A Little Respect

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