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SEC Armadillo, Glasgow
The SEC Armadillo stands out like a giant sail against the Clydeside skyline and in the orange glow of the setting sun against the metallic structure glimmers in an almost neon light as the Erasure faithful queue in the inevitable Glasgow rain to see their musical heroes.
The icons of synth-pop have eventually broken free from the chains of COVID to start their “Neon” tour on the second of three nights in Glasgow. The “Neon” album is a fantastic piece of work and easily stands against some of the huge hits the duo have produced over more than 30 years.
The issue with having such a large back catalogue of hits is how to put a setlist together to tour the current album a well as fit in the hits; that’s before they even consider their own personal favourites and songs the fans may not have heard played live before… nobody said it was easy being a worldwide star!
As the supporting DJ leaves the stage the packed auditorium is already set to go. Anyone who has ever been to an Erasure gig knows this is going to be loud; very loud. The band has some of the most loyal fans in the industry and they know how to party. The stage crew go about their business to prepare for Erasure and the crowd is now bursting for a synth-pop shaped party to begin.
The background music stops, the lights dim and it’s time…, Vince, Emma and Val enter the stage to a huge roar and they start with an absolute classic in the shape of ‘Chorus’. This signature tune sets the wheels in motion and puts down a benchmark for the rest of the gig.
The stage set is bright, as you would expect from a tour called “Neon” and the colourful outfits worn by Emma and Val are off the scale. Andy is obviously dressed to match the occasion in a metallic blue corset and blue tartan trousers. Vince is always understated, as a synth maestro should be, and is resplendent in a well-fitting suit and standing behind a small array of technological gadgets. The set is backed by a huge projector screen, with a set of swings and a roundabout at either end of the stage. A few circular risers are dotted about for Andy and the girls to stand on.
The setlist is a work of art if you are an Erasure fan; if it was your first Erasure experience there is no way it would have disappointed you. They blasted their way through 25 songs that touched on almost every aspect of the career. The hits are too many to mention but, fair to say, the crowd knew every word and, at certain points, almost drowned out the band.
The imagination put into preparing the setlist and the imagery put a few long-standing bands of much repute to shame. They could easily have just churned out the same old set with a couple of songs from “Neon”, took the money and ran. They didn’t and much credit to them for it.
Sure, Andy isn’t as mobile as he used to be but his passion was there for all to see and his between-song ramblings were magnificently funny! He was using an iPad to scroll the lyrics to the songs but didn’t try to hide it, jokingly saying that the new album “has lots of words”. He occasionally forgot the lyrics when away from the prompter but that adds to the live experience and, in all honesty, it didn’t matter as the Glasgow crowd bellowed the words out for him.
The sound in the arena was crystal clear and the song arrangements by Vince were outstanding. The volume level was set for quality and not quantity which came as a bit of a relief to the fans of a certain vintage.
This tour is the perfect tonic to a previous couple of years and the darkness of the pandemic. If you haven’t booked tickets for the tour then you really should. Erasure is touring extensively through the UK, Europe and the USA for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022. I urge you to go if you can.
Like all good things… the night had to come to an end. The fading reverberations of ‘Chains of Love’ signalled the end of the concert and the slightly jaded trio of Andy, Emma and Val leave the stage whilst soaking up rapturous applause. Vince… well, he left as suave and as cool as he had entered. Synth boys don’t smile or fade away!!