Erasure are one of those bands everyone knows. Like The Beatles, they are incessantly tuneful, with a plethora of hits to their name. Like Abba, their songs are catchy, dipping into the dizzying creativity of dance but remaining ever accessible. It’s the mix of melody and heartfelt sense to the songs which makes them, to me, amongst the best pop ever written.
True to this, the duo delivers a simply superb 90-minute set at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena. Andy Bell’s voice still soars, with the nuance and timbre of a songbird. He is, additionally, a sparkling presence on stage: greeting the audience in yellow tartan trousers and a shiny blue corset, pink nips peeking above, an embodied celebration of gayness, queerness, of just being who we are.
Vince Clarke, by contrast, wears a suit and stands at the top of the stage, his tight two-piece the very symbol of straightness, cis-ness, and ‘the man.’ Yet when Clarke, mid-show, takes a pair of scissors to Bell’s corset binding, assisting him toward nakedness so that he could administer a costume change, it feels like a potent reminder that our differences should be embraced. Those in power using all their sharp implements of privilege, not to harm but to help those of lesser privilege.
Beyond this wry instance, there is much colour, spectacle and affection in Erasure’s show. Bell has a penchant for engaging members of the audience in conversation, complimenting one person on their pink clothes and another on their mole; encouraging them not to be shy and asserting that it is “lovely”. Despite his glam appearance and fame, Bell’s manner is gentle, kind; almost naive. He comes across as a total sweetheart and, despite showcasing a huge string of hits alongside some from the newest album, this was the most winning thing about the show to me.
My partner, also an Erasure fan, decided to attend the event wearing a glittery dress, seeing the band as an affirmation and acceptance of difference. Sadly, this same affectionate sense could not be said of various members of the audience. It seems you can only wear what you want if you’re onstage and ‘not from round here’. As Bell sang of “people on the street … walking hand in hand in hand” during Chains Of Love, I wondered if this ever was, or ever would be, true of the world we live in.
Still, I love Erasure’s bravery, their aplomb, their lyrics promoting this ideal. A colourful stage show complimented the dynamic duo perfectly, rainbow glitter exploding over the crowd at the end. A fitting finale for this delicious glimpse into how one colour is actually composed of a spectrum of many; of how, on a stage or in other rainbow-labelled areas and arenas, we can be who we are, without shame or fear. May this one day also be true on the streets of which Erasure eloquently sing.
Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Tue 12 Oct
words MAB JONES photos KEVIN PICK
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