Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Erasure at Bayou Music Center

I rarely go to concerts, but given that Erasure is one of my favorite bands - yes, I admit it - and given that I hadn't seen them in concert since the mid-'90s, my attendance at their concert at the Bayou Music Center last Saturday evening was pretty much mandatory. (I actually attended two concerts last weekend: the ex-wife [!] dragged me to the Toyota Center to see Katy Perry [!!] on Friday night.)

The veteran British synthpop duo was playing two nights in Houston as a part of a tour supporting their latest album, The Violet Flame, and they did play a handful of songs from that album. Their set, however, was dominated by hits from their mid-'80s-to-early-'90s heyday. Which is perfectly fine: that's what the crowd, which skewed fortysomething, came to came to dance and sing along to, and they did not leave disappointed.

In contrast to the elaborate productions that past Erasure tours were known for, this show was rather stripped-down: no sets, no props, no fancy costumes or dancers; just Vince Clarke at his laptop and keyboard (he played an acoustic guitar for a few songs), Andy Bell at the microphone, and a couple of backup singers. And again, that was perfectly fine.

As somebody who occasionally gets grief for liking Erasure - people tell me that synthpop "sucks," that Vince Clarke's compositions are formulaic bubblegum, that Erasure is a "gay" band (whatever that means) - I found it extremely enjoyable to be able to sit in a venue with thousands of like-minded fans singing along to "Star" or "A Little Respect." Maybe it's nostalgia, but they have created some truly classic songs.

Alas, before I knew it, the concert was over. And that's my one gripe: their set was barely 90 minutes long. I wish they could have gone another thirty minutes or so. It's not like they were running out of great songs to include in the setlist; they only played one song apiece from Wonderland and I Say I Say I Say, and nothing at all from Cowboy (one of their better albums IMHO) or the Crackers International EP.

The length of the show aside, I had a great time. These guys always put on a good performance; age has not diminished Andy's vocal chops or his ability to work the crowd in the least. Hopefully Vince and Andy will make their way back to Houston soon, with a slightly longer setlist.

Chris Gray's Houston Press review of the concert is here.

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