“Don’t let people scare you” advised Andy Bell at one point tonight, “Remember that everything is going to be alright”. On a night that was anything but merely alright, Erasure provided the crowd of a packed Brighton Dome with the ultimate feel-good factor – not a single soul would have left the venue tonight without a big goofy grin on their face. In a career spanning over 30 years, the synth-pop duo of Bell and Vince Clarke have been responsible for some of the biggest pop songs of modern years. They may not be troubling the singles charts these days, but they are still producing cracking new work as last year’s World Be Gone proved.
Support came from Bright Light Bright Light, openly delighted to be supporting his favourite band and resplendent in a rainbow-coloured suit. His electropop anthems struck a chord with the Erasure fans, and the connection was easy to see. It was a shame to see him without a bigger stage production (though obviously as a support, that was always going to be a factor) as it would enhance the theatrical music in a similar fashion to the likes of Hurts. The Welshman Rod Thomas is an incredibly likeable performer, though, and tracks such as ‘All In The Name’ and ‘Running Back To You’ suffered nothing in the absence of Elton John, his singing partner on much of 2016’s Choreography.
One man who is never lacking in theatrical quality is Andy Bell. As he sang the opening notes of ‘Oh L’amour’, the lights came up to reveal a burlesque-style stage show. With Vince Clarke high above him on a separate platform adding his touches of synth genius, the duo set off at high speed – “We are easing you in gently” teased Bell, “Now I hope you all enjoy your orgasms later”. ‘Ship Of Fools’ followed to an equally red hot response from a crowd more than ready to party, and eager to roll back the years. With Bell as flamboyant as Clarke is anonymous, Erasure were always the ultimate odd couple but they were untouchable during their peak in the late 80s-early 90s. What was interesting tonight is that they didn’t just rely on those golden years (indeed arguably their biggest album, 1991’s Chorus, was completely ignored). Instead, they performed as much newer material as they did old – a bold move for a band whose hits are undeniably from earlier in the career, but one that was still met with a rapturous response.
Throughout the whole show, Bell was one of the most engaging, natural and hilarious frontmen that will have ever held the stage at the Dome. He seemed genuinely ecstatic just to perform in front of his adoring audience, and came across as someone that would be the very best company possible. His happiness at slowly stripping away layers of clothing periodically until he was down to a pair of briefs and a “naked” Aztec style body suit, was probably also a first for this famous old venue. As for the music, it was of course exceptional. In a career that has also taken in Yazoo and Depeche Mode, Clarke has deservedly earned a reputation as someone who defines an entire genre and sound. ‘Chains Of Love’ and ‘Victim Of Love’ turned the show into one huge club night, while their cover of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ felt like a glorious return to the days of G-A-Y. The entire show was one big celebration, especially as the evening moved into the greatest hits section.
Even during the ecstasy of anthems like ‘Stop!’ and ‘Sometimes’, there was a definite feeling of a deep breath being taken for what everyone knew was coming. And when it did, wow. It’s hard to think of any single moment at a Brighton show for some time that brought so much joy as their performance of ‘A Little Respect’ – in its way, one of the most perfect pop songs in musical history. With Clarke finally descending from his platform to join Bell on stage with an acoustic guitar, the singing was deafening and it was the perfect climax to a night of unabandoned, wild, good fun. In a scary world, it was the perfect reminder that everything will be alright.