From the moment Erasure vocalist Andy Bell rode onto the Wiltern stage on a swan boat covered in glittering feather wrapping, it was clear that this 10-show stand by the techno-pop duo was going to be as much a musical theater production as it was a concert.
Elaborate stage settings, multicostumed choreographed dancers and more than enough tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo are heaped into the current Erasure road show. Spectacular, to say the least, but at times a little overbearing.
Bell’s sugar-sweet voice, his extra-sensitive, haunted-by-love lyrics and Vince Clarke’s crafty electronic musical wizardry are the band’s selling points, but those assets tend to get lost in all the fussy staging.
The haunting “Am I Right,””Ship of Fools,” the hook-filled “Star” and the infectious “Oh, L’amour,” a few of the dazzling songs performed on this evening, surely could have stood on their own, without the extra onstage histrionics.
But excess is what fans of the band have come to expect. And in that regard, they weren’t disappointed.
Trips into outer space, visits to a homoerotic old West, walks down a rainy Parisian street–they’re all in a night’s work for Bell, whose sensual and romantic art doesn’t shock nearly as much as it satisfies, musically and visually.
One of the highlights of the 2 1/2-hour spectacular came during the show’s encore when Clarke left his gadgetry behind and, with a single keyboard in tow, joined Bell at center stage for a stripped-down, moving version of “Perfect Stranger.” As entertaining as all of the staging and theatrics is, Erasure unplugged is a very promising idea.
On the flip side, the duo’s insistence on performing their entire Elektra-released “ABBA-esque” EP, a tribute to the ’70s Swedish supergroup, was a bit heavy-handed and, in light of the group’s wealth of strong material, entirely unnecessary.