Music review: Erasure, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

Nobody turns heartache and thorny social comment into catchy club tunes quite like Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, writes Fiona Shepherd

Andy Bell PIC: Angel Marchini/Shutterstock

Erasure, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow ****

Tense, nervous headache? Pandemic blues? Climate crisis? Send in Erasure, the two-man pop panacea, proven effective on a wide cohort of the population, many of whom have and will turn out for their musical medicine across a mini-Scottish residency in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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If the delightful sight of singer Andy Bell in electric blue corset and Rupert the Bear bondage trousers doesn’t lift the spirits, then the party catharsis of the opening Chorus surely will.

In a set of swings and roundabouts – literally, there’s a playpark stage set of swings and a roundabout – the duo frontloaded the show with “all the complex, complicated ones” (for which also read, some lesser tried tracks from their latest album The Neon) with Bell opting for the belt-and-braces of an iPad lyrics prompt.

Yet Erasure’s strength has always been to turn heartache and thorny social comment into the catchiest of club tunes, with Bell providing a reminder that the quirky electro vaudeville of The Circus packs a lyrical punch with its lament for de-industrialisation.

This is the songwriting strength of Bell and silent pop assassin Vince Clarke, the somewhat inscrutable dapper synth warrior who covered all instrumentation from a safe distance at the back of the stage, that they effortlessly capture the yearning of separation on Blue Savannah and bittersweet romance on early hits Who Needs Love Like That, Sometimes and Love to Hate You and still make a celebration out of the ambivalence.

The moderately hi-NRG stomp of the latter was the cue for Clarke to cut Bell from his corset and free him up to indulge with the diva backing singers in the Gloria Gaynor-referencing campery of it all.

Their two exclamatory flourishes, Drama! and Stop!, were ecstatically received by a jubilant audience while their cover of Eurythmics' sultry Love is a Stranger and the emotional pop rapture of Always were more subtle highlights in a strong, celebratory set.

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