Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018

Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018Erasure @ 02 Academy, 11th February 2018

On a biting cold night, with a few flurries of snowflakes, the queue to get into the Academy snakes for some distance up the frost covered footpath. Erasure have a long musical history dating back to the mid-eighties and they have built up and kept a loyal fan-base, and with a recent support slot for Robbie Williams, and a new album ‘World Be Gone’ released in 2017, their fans keep on growing in number. It is no surprise that every date on this current UK tour has been sold out for months.

Once inside, the balcony has allocated seats rather than the usual Academy free-for-all and whilst I’m sat next to the stage with a glorious view of Andy Bell, the ceiling speaker position mean I can see little of Vince Clarke, and I’m also deafened. This really should be classed as a restricted view.

The lights dim and the theme of the TV show, Tales of the Unexpected is greeted with a loud cheer, before Bell takes centre stage, sat across a chair (Christine Keeler style) and sings the opening lines to ‘Oh L’amour’ before musical maestro Clarke, high above the stage on a raised platform, kicks off the pummelling beats.

It would be easy to go through song by song, but this date is very early in the tour and I’d rather not spoil it those attending forthcoming gigs, but there is something for everyone, covering all their career and a couple of notable cover-versions.

Musically not a beat is dropped, Clarke is the consummate profession and self-confessed control freak, famously leaving Depeche Mode as he felt he could do all the music himself rather than relying on others, and proving the point ever since. He only comes from his musical den high above the stage once, and that is to take centre stage with Bell for the encore and play the acoustic guitar. Clarke is very unassuming and looks even a little awkward when not protected behind his synths, but of course this is not an issue as front of stage is well covered by Andy “Dinger” Bell.

 

For a solid two hours he teases the crowd, with genuine affection and risqué flirtation. Whereas most artists may go for costume changes, Dinger simply undresses. He enters the stage in a two-piece suit, the short trousers revealing at first what appear to be tattooed calves, and the jacket looking as though a large seagull has defecated over the shoulders. This jacket is soon discarded and a sequined top promoting Thrasher Magazine twinkles under the lights, revealing that both arms are also tattooed, however, it soon becomes apparent Dinger isn’t newly inked but instead is wearing a body stocking, confirmed when the t-shirt is taken off and his torso is revealed.

He actually says he loves it as “might even wear just this in the summer”. The stage set is based on boxes, with Clarke high above centrally, and at either side a box for each backing singer, who both deserve credit as they are excellent at supporting Bell, but also stepping back when apt to leave him in the limelight.

Erasure are always good value, and tonight was no different, however, I’m not entirely sure the venue was right for them. The Academy is well known for having awkward views, particularly in the stalls due to the layout and pillars, not to mention location of the bars and exits, and on the way out there were several people complaining to each other about this with one couple saying it was their first and last visit. The difficulty is there are few venues for Erasure at present, as their usual haunt, the Civic in Wolverhampton is closed for over-running refurbishment. They could of course up the scale even further and do the Hippodrome maybe?

‘World Be Gone’ is a superb album and more soul-bearing, with more tenderness than previous disco, drum thumping in your face pop disco, and to drive home this new maturity even more, a classical interpretation of the album is due for release in early March, called ‘World Beyond’.

 

The illness that caused the postponement of the Irish dates appears to be resolved and Bell looks in rude health. Long may he continue. If you are going to any of the other dates you are in for a treat, two hours of entertainment, and I would suggest you get there early to catch the excellent support, Bright Light Bright Light, a trio led by Rod Thomas, previously a student in Birmingham. Their third album ‘Choreography’ is out now on a variety of formats and platforms.

Erasure continue to tour the UK and release ‘World Beyond’ on March 9th on Mute Records.

 

Reviewer: Glenn Raybone
Photographer: Katja Ogrin

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