Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer.
I thought an error had been made when I read that British synth-duo Erasure’s newest album; The Violet Flame was their 16th. Approaching 30 years in the business, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell have been impressively prolific over the course of their career.
I don’t think I’d heard a full Erasure album since their 1991 album, Chorus. I was a big fan of their 80s output, their first four albums heavily featured in the soundtrack of my teenage years. I had never seen them live, but The Violet Flame had me excited to see them last night at the Danforth Music Hall. Much like the Pet Shop Boys’ Electric, Erasure’s new album is a shot of adrenaline that defies their age and length in the industry, while giving the kids dominating radio playlists a run for their money.
The duo took the stage to a rapturous full house accompanied by two backup singers and kicked the party off with “Oh L’Amour”. Sparkling at 50 in glitter pants I couldn’t have gotten away with at 18, Andy Bell was in fine form, literally. Dancing effortlessly across the stage, Bell proved to have impressive stamina with the workout having little effect on the power of his vocals.
Not having previously seen Erasure, I can’t really say, but I was expecting more pomp from the evening, and I couldn’t help but think this was Erasure-lite in terms of a “performance”. A modest light show, by my Erasure standards, and the glitter on Bell and the backup singers made up the visual component of the night and even the outfits were shockingly tame.
Lights were secondary to the evening. With a set list that read more like a 30th anniversary greatest hits tour, Erasure managed to thaw the typical Toronto crowd into a steaming, exhausted heap. The crowd was surprisingly still between songs, but started to show signs of loosening up for “Drama!” And then with best of the three tracks aired from their new album “Sacred”, Erasure made it hard to resist with a barrage of hits; “Ship of Fools”, “Blue Savannah”, “Victim of Love”, “A Little Respect” and “Chains of Love” had the entire crowd singing and dancing along. A bass heavy update of “Chorus” was the most impressive for me.
The heat was oppressive and while I’m not sure it was planned, Bell removed his pants and changed into a sleeveless shirt…who could you blame him? It was a quick turnaround for their encore and the 90 minute set ended with “Always” and “Sometimes”.
I was transported back for a sweaty evening much like dancing through my teenage years and like everyone else, I stayed right to the end until I was sure it was over.