It was with no small amount of nostalgia that Guy, Andy, Kevin and I attended the Astoria on Monday night to see Erasure perform live. Both Guy and I are 'big' fans having seen most, if not all, of their live concerts between us. And as the show was about to start we stood in the auditorium reminiscing about the costumes La Bell wore at this show or that. And how much we both loved to see them perform live. We weren't alone in that view either. The Astoria was heaving. Heaving with thirty-somethings (sorry Guy (28) but I lump you in with them too!) who all remembered Erasure from the good old days and had come to see their memories replayed for them. The atmosphere was very convivial as you might expect with utter strangers soon becoming complete acquaintances - swapping "my favourite song" lists and typical fan gossip "do you think Andy's really gay or is it all an act?" (pur-leese!!).
The set was an open Victorian 'front room' with pastel wall paper, standard lamp, a horned gramophone player and a 42" plasma screen in a gold frame on the wall (nice idea) that was to show video clips during the show. Vince's synths (and Dell laptop!) were set up on stage right and two microphone stands for the back singers on stage left. The centre was left clear for Andy. We took in the set and chatted about sets they'd used in the past. And we waited. Surely they would be on soon? It was now 8:10pm and the rest of the crowd was getting impatient. A few cheers and hand-claps did the rounds. Then suddenly the lights dimmed and the music started to thump and door at the back of the set opened. The crowd went wild.
At Compton's where we met up earlier for a drink we had survived no small amount of scour poured on us and even some degree of disbelief too? "Who? Erasure? Who are they, then? 1980's? Bit before my time, mate? Can you sing me one of their songs?" Well, by the end of the night it seemed we were singing ALL of their songs. The songs that you remember the lyrics of before you remember the title.
He was the baby of the class you know
He really didn't know that one and one was two
Two and two were four
The roar and wolf-whistles that greeted Andy and Vince was deafening. Andy was decked in a black Victorian mourning dress with a bussell and top hat. Vince was wearing a matching black suit with top hat.
When it's cold (When it's cold) outside (outside)
Am I here in vain?
Hold on to the night
There will be no shame
The black hat and dress came off revealing a bodice, suspenders and shorts. Andy had obviously been working out. He was positively buffed. Guy went all gooey.
I'm building a wall
Everyday it's getting higher
This time I won't end up
Another victim of love
Andy's dancing was as "controversial" as ever. But it certainly was distinctive. Stripped now to just black shorts - what next? A Blue Savannah Thong? And sure enough right on cue...
Somewhere 'cross the desert
Sometime in the early hours
In a restless world
On the open highway
An on stage costume change now to a brown and yellow leather hooped dress produced whoops from the audience. Did this man know no shame?
Am I right?
Am I wrong?
Or am I just dreaming?
And then Erasure's "Pink Floyd" number... as they left the stage for another costume change during the 'five minute' instrumental. We went to the bar for drinks. It was almost an interval.
I've been getting used to all the crying
And the games that you play
And if I carry on I'm going to end up with a hole in my head
Back again in Miami Vice white suits and plain coloured T-shirts dancing and singing under the proud gaze (proud gays?) of ultraviolet lights. The crowd lovely it and singing at the top of their voices.
Take me I'm yours
Now I'm comin' up for air
I'm gonna live my time
For the rest of my life
Andy's microphone breaks down so he nestles in with the backing singers in true Supremes style. What a pro!
How can I explain
When there are few words I can choose
How can I explain
When words get broken
A slight tiff breaks out between Andy and Vince - the playback had started too early. Andy puts his foot down and makes Vince restart it. And then kisses him to apologize - much to the audience's delight. Andy then sings the opening bars from the ABBA Arrival song, "Everybody screams, when I kissed Mr Vince"
And the lovers that you sent for me
Didn't come with any satisfaction guarantee
So I'll return them to the sender
And the note attached will read
A rash of synchronised dancing breaks out to that Christmas Cracker, Stop! Even Andy joined in.
We'll be together again
I've been waiting for a long time
We're gonna be we're gonna be
I've been connected to the right line
The crowd are singing and dancing along to every song now. Hands are waving in the air like they just... don't... care!
Oh love of my heart
Why leave me alone
I'm falling apart
No good on my own
A big cheer goes up for one of our favourites. Andy is drowned out by the crowd singing.
It's not the way you lead me
By the hand into the bedroom
It's not the way you throw your clothes
Upon the bathroom floor
The boys go off stage. The crowd go wild for an encore. Minutes later they're back. We patiently stand through True Love Ways until we just can't wait for the song that we know will close the show...
I try to discover
A little something to make me sweeter
Oh baby refrain
From breaking my heart
The light come up. It's over. More than A Little Respect to the boys for a great show. A vibrant night out and all over by ten too! Great for those thirty-somethings that have to get up for work tomorrow. We go home happy.