Leave it to a veteran pop act like English dance band Erasure to remind us that despite some recent lackluster shows locally, techno music can work effectively and enjoyably in a large live setting. But instead of hiding behind walls of smoke and turntables and mirrors like so many of their younger contemporaries, vocalist Andy Bell and musical mastermind Vince Clarke connected with their fans from 105-minute show's beginning to end by speaking to them in a language they can understand, even amid so much technical clutter.
The stage for Erasure’s two-night Universal stand was an old Western setting, inspired by their new “Cowboy” album (Maverick), complete with saloon, faux campfire and tall green cactus.
Dressed in black latex cowboy outfits, the flamboyant Bell danced and skipped about the large stage, singing songs of heartache and romantic longing that were simple in their messages and uplifting in their celebratory delivery.
Meanwhile, Clarke climbed his 10-foot-tall stack of programming equipment, tweaking knobs and otherwise overseeing the band’s distinctive brand of electronic pop. During “Rock Me Gently,” a sweet ballad from 1995’s self-titled album, Clarke strode about the stage in a giant prickly cactus outfit, which Bell assured the crowd was Clarke’s idea.
Other highlights included an acoustic version of oldie “Blue Savannah,” sung around the campfire with the group’s backing vocal foursome, borrowed from a London gospel chorus; hits “Chains of Love” and “Oh, L’amour”; and “Rain” and “Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me,” taken from the new album.
Both nights were nearly identical, error-free productions, though Clarke’s stack did act up occasionally during Monday’s sold-out show. Of the two, Tuesday’s show was the more restrained, both in the audience and onstage; also, Bell’s soaring voice wasn’t as sharp as the night before.