Erasure + Frankmusik @ Wolverhampton Civic, 23rd October 2011

O nce upon a time there was a guy, who formed in a band that went on to have stratospheric success. But he left after the first album. Then he formed a duet with a truly unique blues singer, huge success. Two years, two albums later, it was over. Then another act, with a former Undertone, and yet another hit. Moving on. He placed an advert in the Melody Maker and came across an unknown singer. With a pretty good voice. This time it lasted, over twenty five years later, tonight we’re here in Wolves to see Erasure.

Vince Clarke founded Depeche Mode, formed Yazoo with Alison Moyet, and then briefly formed The Assembly featuring Feargal Sharkey on vocals. In the early 80s, he was a song writing phenomena, the man with the golden touch. In ‘85 he formed Erasure with Andy Bell, and after a slow start with the ‘Wonderland’ album, the hits began to flow with the platinum selling follow-up ‘The Circus.’ Between ‘86 and ‘97, Erasure had no fewer than 24 Top 20 hits. And they haven’t gone away – issuing new albums every couple of years since. This summer they’ve played festivals, including The Forestry Commission’s annual concerts series in the UK, followed up by this world tour promoting new album ‘Tomorrow’s World.’ They’re busy boys.

Support tonight comes from Croydon-born Vincent Frank, tonight on stage as Frankmusik. Originally starting out as a beatboxer, he is now very much commercial electropop. A talented lad, he’s done remixes for the Pet Shop Boys, Lady Gaga, Mika and CSS, and in his own right as Frankmusik he made it onto the BBC Longlist for Sound of 2009, supported Keane and the Pet Shop Boys on tour, and has gained chart success. He’s also produced Erasure’s new album, probably the reason he’s supporting them tonight. Good vocals, good-looking lad, more commercial success surely isn’t far away.

Tonight’s stage looks like an offshoot of Gotham city. Gargoyles and metals towers adorn the stage with a huge circular backdrop. On come Erasure, to a great response and applause from a packed Civic Hall – Bell in glittered jacket and feather headress, with two backing singers, and Clarke, his synths hidden behind another winged gargoyle, the lighting such on the first song he looks like he’s Batman – his head poking above the ‘suit’. Starting off with ‘Sono Luminus’ they then follow up with the first of a series of hits they play tonight – ‘Always’, during which Bell flashes a sneaky peek of his shoulder, to which the crowd respond. Bell’s voice is still great with wide vocal range hitting high notes whilst belting it out, just when he needs to.

The set features a smattering of songs from the new album, third song and current single ‘When I Start To (Break It All Down)’ has great harmonization. The jacket off, Bell is chatty and jokey “…. found a sequin in me crap….!”

‘Blue Savannah’ shows Bell’s true falsetto range. Then to ‘Drama!’ and ‘ Breathe of Life’ during which an overly warm Bell is untied from his corset, on stage, to be replaced by an armless Devo t-shirt, much to the entertainment of the audience.

And then we wave our arms in the air for the sing-along lullaby that is ‘Ship of Fools’, followed by ‘Chorus’ which aptly has a chorus just made to dance to with appropriate hand gestures – “….covered up the sun, ‘til the birds have gone away, and the fishes in the sea, have gone to sleep…..”

Clarke ventures out from behind the synths for a couple of tracks, guitar in hand. One of their best songs tonight is their classic spurned love song – Erasure’s take on ‘I Will Survive’ – ‘I Love to Hate You’ which has a rising melody that Bell truly belts out. Then to a couple of new tracks – ‘I Lose Myself’ has a musical composition, which live, is reminiscent of a cross between New Order and The Cure’s ‘The Walk’. And then main set concludes on two more classic hits – ‘Sometimes’ and ‘A Little Respect.’

Back on for an encore of just two songs, but yet more hits. The first is definitely a moment of Name That Tune In One – “Oh L‘Amour’ to which the already bouncy crowd bounce more and clap along. Then tonight is completed tonight with synth crescendo and starting line “We’ll be together again….” – ‘Stop!”

Erasure live are a great celebration – live, their sound has far more bass, far more range than on ‘vinyl’. Clarke has written phenomenal pop songs, which you just find yourself singing along to. And the new album contains tracks as good as any past hits. Bell’s voice is a real delight and continues to have far more vocal range than you would expect. There’s something shy about them live, but they want to entertain you and show you their great pop songs. They’ve not succumbed to the passage of time – there is something still current – you will dance, you will bounce, you will realize just how many songs you can sing along to. And you will smile. They’re not the cheapest act out there tonight’s tickets were £34 on the door, but it was a ‘happy’ feel-good gig, great crowd and a really pleasant and enjoyable night out. Go and see – ‘cos you will not be disappointed at all. Respect.


1. Sono Luminus
2. Always
3. When I Start To (Break It All Down)
4. Blue Savannah
5. Fill Us With Fire
6. Breathe of Life
7. Drama!
8. Be with you
9. Ship of Fools
10. Chorus
11. Breathe
12. Victim of Love
13. Alien (Acoustic)
14. Love to Hate You
15. I Lose Myself
16. A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot
17. Breath Of Life❌
18. Chains of Love
19. Sometimes
20. A Little Respect

21. Oh L’Amour
22. Stop

Frankmusik Complete Me (2009)
Do it in the Am (2011)

Listening: The Circus (1987)
Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009)
Tomorrow’s World (2011)

Review – Zyllah Moranne-Brown

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