Thursday, October 6, 2011

Erasure pops at the Fox

Erasure performs at Oakland's Fox Theater on Oct. 4, 2011. Photo by John Baker.

Way back in high school, in the summer of 19(mumble, mumble), I went to "yearbook camp" in San Diego in order to learn the proper way to arrange page layouts and proportion photos. Someone brought in a cassette from some pop band I'd never heard of.

The tape was Erasure's "The Innocents," and -- enraptured by the smooth lyrics, bouncy electronics and the (then) quirkiness of a lead singer who was out and proud -- I began a long association with the band that continues to this day.

Andy Bell
Fronted by flamboyant singer/frontman Andy Bell, the English duo has had limited mainstream US success, mostly in the late 1980s, but has charted 34 top-40 singles in their native UK. Erasure is currently touring in support of its new album, Tomorrow's World, which will be released stateside next week.

On Tuesday, the tour came into Oakland's Fox Theatre. I got in line about three hours before the scheduled 8 p.m. start and ended up with a space in the second row (I would've been on the rail, but I had to use the restroom after standing in line for three hours). The show was fantastic. Bell, who admittedly sounded less than prime and was a bit soft the last time I saw the group perform, was svelte and in top form.

Vince Clarke
Clarke, who cut his teeth as a founder of Depeche Mode before forming first Yazoo (Yaz in the United States), then Erasure, has always been the "look at him"-type when compared to Bell's "look at me" demeanor. But he's always been a genius on the keyboard and lately has been becoming more and more involved with the live shows. He spent an extensive time at the fore of the stage on Tuesday carrying a guitar -- a relatively new instrument in Erasure's repertoire.

The show went off with nary a hitch, save for a brief flub in the lyrics of "Blue Savannah" by Bell. The setlist of 22 songs (13 from 1992 or before) was a good mix of the classic and the modern, with the five songs off the new album -- including the first single, "When I Start to (Break it all Down)" -- received well.

Personally, it was the closest I'd ever been to the front at a concert, making pictures and video a snap. I'm not normally a fan-cammer, but I was impressed with the quality of video taken by my relatively new camera. Below: A brief snippet of "Sometimes."

This was my seventh Erasure concert, and it was among the best. The enthusiastic crowd (admittedly dominated by gay men in their mid-to-late 40s), Bell's better physical shape (which led to better showmanship) and a great set list all contributed to a perfect show.

Not bad for a synthpop group that's been together 26 years now.

Erasure bows off the stage following its encore performance of "Oh L'amour."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great show! Normally I get general admission seats, but I decided to get seats in the Loge this time. I got some great shots of the whole stage, but yours are definitely closer and much clearer. Thanks for sharing!