Erasure review – every note infused with lovelorn drama

Brighton Centre
Andy Bell’s absolute belief in the duo’s music – with its sex-on-the-dancefloor peaks and morning-after valleys – stops this tour from being a nostalgia outing

Erasure are in a bit of a pickle tonight. Their current show, which recreates the closely packed communal euphoria of an 80s nightclub, was designed for halls like the 1,900-seat Brighton Dome, but a last-minute technical problem has forced them to transfer to this 4,500-capacity conference centre. To be properly savoured, the duo’s music demands that inhibitions be shed – how else can you dance to songs delivered by a man in a glittery top hat and sequin-encrusted hot pants? – but the room’s hangar-like quality defies the crowd to let loose. It’s not until the very end, when they ping out four smashes in a row – A Little Respect, Chains of Love, Always and Sometimes – that most people are prodded into dancing like they just don’t care.

To be fair, some have entered into the spirit from the start. “I love the clown makeup – thank you for making an effort,” Andy Bell tells a fan in the front row. High praise indeed, coming from a singer who still infuses every note of Erasure’s 25-year-old songs with lovelorn drama. It’s his absolute belief in this music – with its sex-on-the-dancefloor peaks and morning-after valleys – that stops this tour from being a nostalgia outing. Vince Clarke, sepulchral behind his laptop at the back of the stage, may be the one producing the spiralling synthpop chords, but Bell gives them form. He’s understandably effusive about their new album, The Violet Flame, boastfully comparing the amphetamine surge of Reason to northern soul, but he gives the gig legitimacy by being equally passionate about the back catalogue.

He’s a realist, though. He chuckles through an anecdote about being mistaken for Adam Ant on an early American tour, but there’s a shard of pathos: those were the days. Yet they’re not going quietly, nor should they.

• At Preston Guildhall on 25 November. Box office: 0844-844 7710. Then touring.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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