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Erasure: The Other Tour

Erasure's new album is Other People's Songs, a collection of covers from Buddy Holly, Peter Gabriel, and others, released in January 2003. The Other Tour is promoting the new album, with concerts from Europe to North America.

Being loyal, dedicated Erasure fans that we are-- well Thomas and I, anyway-- and that Erasure hasn't toured in the US since 1997's Cowboy album and tour, we picked up Sophia and headed to the Los Angeles show on March 17th at the Mayan Theater. The timing worked out great for myself and spring break, too... so on March 21st I headed up Erasure's San Francisco show with Thuy, her sister, and her sister's friends.

Please scroll down for set lists.

Pictures from the Los Angeles show- smuggled my camera in, but ended up near a security guard in front of the stage, so very few pictures-- sorry! No pictures from the SF show, I didn't bring my camera in... and found out later that they did in practice allow cameras in. *sigh* Oh well.
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The Set:
It's the same for both shows-- a Victorian-style sitting room or parlor. The phonograph is on the audience's right side out of the way with a bright light behind it for the SF show to emphasize it's importance-- Andy "winds" it up at the beginning. =) I think for the LA show the light was off so it wouldn't blind the audience. The center has a lounge chair in the back that Andy and the two chorus singers would occasionally sit on for some songs, and to the right of it, mounted high enough on the wall for everyone to see, is a nice big plasma TV where they showed videos in the background to about half the songs. To the left of the lounge chair is a changing screen, where Andy removes his dress and shows us the frame very clearly, since the screen is backlit. The actual left side of the stage has two guitars for Vince, a desk with a mixer (or pre-amp?) and his laptop on it... a synth where Vince does some other work, and a music stand for the encore's performance. Lighting is spotlights and floodlights of multiple colors... the overall lighting effects aren't outrageous, but they fit very well with the show.

Los Angeles:
We were ~20th or so in line at 5pm. Mexican food from the restaurant across the street was dinner while we stood and sat in the wind, and hoped it didn't rain! The crowd ended up stretching around the block by ~7pm, but the Mayan is a small venue-- 1000~1200 or so (?), so the line wasn't too big either. Smaller crowd, small venue... filled right up though!

Sold-out shows definitely kick *ss though. Not too many college-aged people there, but everyone had fun! Cooler Kids... not sure who there were, but the crowd was pretty pleasant to them. As a rule the crowd was loud, but pleasant the entire night. We were up on the right side, 2nd row... pretty sweet view, although our right ears were all ringing by the end of the night. =)

Erasure comes on... and the crowd goes wild. The introduction music is a story of someone prophetizing his own death in a Victorian setting... then Erasure with two backup singers comes on stage, Vince in a sparkly black suit, the two chorus singers in long black dresses, and Andy in a full black veil, corset, and full-skirted dress. All the clothes are in black and somber like in mouring... and then Andy starts into the most stirring rendition of Alien that I've ever heard in my life. Those of you who don't know the Loveboat album very well-- it's good but not up to par with the best of their earlier stuff-- Alien is decent, as it is on the half-dozen other versions I have of it, but live... my goodness it's beautiful.

Andy strips throughout the show... first removing the veil and the buggy whip he's got, then the Victorian-style dress (showing the leather corset, leather gloves, go-go boots, leather jockstrap, and leather dress frame he's got on underneath). It's pretty dramatic and flambouyant as we expect from Erasure, although it had to be rather traumatizing for the little kid next to us in the first row. (!) During Rock Me Gently they change into F1-style racing suits and the dancers into trenchcoats/dresses and finish up the show.

San Francisco:
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is probably 3,000 or so... clearly a much bigger venue than LA. It's not sold out, but by 9pm when Erasure comes on after Cooler Kids, the venue is pretty packed. Audience is a lot younger than the LA show, much more openly gay, and it's much more heterogeneous than LA-- lots of Asians, lots of gays, lots of younger people this time around. People sat on the floor as we came in, stood up only ~15 minutes before the show (not 1hour+ like in 1997!), not too much pushing, although we had problems with a few dickwads pushing towards the front later. Grrrr... although the last pair was two really hot Asian ladies so I didn't mind too much. =

Cooler Kids is barely tolerated by this crowd-- people are throwing Cooler Kids buttons back at them in some instances, and when the introduction story comes on, the crowd gets so rowdy by the end that I think they cut it off just before the end! The dancer from Cooler Kids evidently made an impression among my friends, though. Either he was cute or he was such a dork they all remembered him!

The setlist was mostly the same... same costume changes and videos... but the crowd interaction was much better. The start of war in Iraq prompted a few bits of support for the protestors and for peace, and a fan handed Andy flowers during the show, which was really cool. He didn't introduce Vince like he did in the LA show, but he showed him leg and gave a kiss, which was just as good or better, and that much cooler. The crowd was LOUD, like they'd all been fiending for their Erasure fix for five years, and it was finally here!! LA had anticpation and excitement, while SF multiplied that many times. Lots of people dancing around too-- not a mass of swaying bodies like Cowboy though, which was sorta disappointing... but also good, in that I didn't end up covered in a mass of bruises!

Things kicked much more *ss in SF than they did in LA, but I was focused more on the show in LA since we had better spots and were simply fiending for our Erasure fix!! SF's crowd was bigger and much more enthusiastic. The volume was just incredible, and being blown kisses by Andy certainly fed the audience.

Comments:
On Andy: he's clearly enjoying himself here. He hasn't lost a bit of his voice, even while singing with a corset on. He still puts on a great show.
On Vince: as Thomas noted, he doesn't do much during this tour. He's capable of amazing synth work, but he spends most of his time on the guitar, which isn't nearly as interesting, although it's probably visually better for the show. I miss the cactus from Cowboy, though!
On the chorus: Beautiful voices for their part, but clearly intended as a side role at best. They're very good singers though, and clearly add to the show.

Los Angeles setlist:

  • Alien - they open immediately into this. Oh my goodness, it's a powerful opening for the show. Andy hasn't lost much, if any, of his vocal range as he's aged.
  • In My Arms - crap... forgot to include this earlier. It wasn't as stirring as the Cowboy performance in 1997 in SF, I think... or maybe it was. It sounded a little different. Maybe more mature? Still good!
  • Blue Savannah - the older stuff has aged well... it continues to sound better than the newer stuff, at least to my ears. Frickin' beautiful. Slight mistake early in in the vocals, nothing too spectacular though.
  • Ship of Fools - Similar comments as to Blue Savannah; it's gorgeous, and by now the crowd is really, really into it.
  • Solsbury Hill - played the video from the single in the background. Just about everyone there seemed to be intimately familiar with it, so it was pretty amazing.
  • Chains of Love - This song still kicks *ss. By now I think Andy was down to a corset, sleeves, and go-go boots. (felt kinda bad for the dad who'd brought his small child to the concert!) The entire show was really upbeat.
  • Can't Help Falling In Love - More of the new stuff. Nice- it flows well with the older stuff.
  • Oh L'Amour - They handed out paper hearts for everyone to wave around. Sweet! Andy's sitting down on a lounge chair with the other two singers for this one. Oh L'Amour was a top hit, and the crowd showed it. =)
  • Love To Hate You - Surprisingly good. I've always loved the beat, but the song as a whole wasn't a favorite.
  • Breath of Life - Crowd goes nuts again. Great song live; Andy shows off more of his vocal range.
  • You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - meh. Good to hear live, but not a favorite from Erasure.
  • Sometimes - Crowd goes nuts for the fourth or fifth time. I still love this song.
  • Victim Of Love - We're getting a little too old school here. I love the old school stuff, but where's the love for the 1994+ stuff? By now Andy is just in go-go boots and a jock strap, which is pretty disturbing in itself.
  • A Little Respect - Crowd... more nuts than ever before? Incredible performance.
  • Rock Me Gently *costume change during bridge* - I swear they put this song in because the long bridge of just synth is perfect to go change! The synth bridge was where they cut it off; the speakers were way too loud, so some of its complexity was lost because the speakers just couldn't deliver the notes, which is really sad because it's really beautiful otherwise.
  • Chorus - Opened into this from Rock Me Gently. Another "wow," the feel-good-we-love-fishes feeling was a nice 180 from Rock Me Gently's moodiness.
  • Always - Like so many other albums, it's the sole represenation from I Say I Say I Say. And it's darned good; as good as a lot of the older stuff.
  • Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) - it's one of my favorites off of Other People's Songs and packed a lot of energy, but it doesn't stand out like so much of the other stuff does.
  • Piano Song - Took me a while to figure this song out. It was a pleasant surprise.
  • Goodnight - Peaceful, simple way to end... but of course, there's the encore!
Encore:
  • True Love Ways - Andy and Vince alone, sitting in front of a music stand, Vince on guitar doing the song acoustically. Really beautiful vs. the album version, IMHO.
  • Stop! - I wouldn't have expected this for an encore (was hoping for Don't Say You're Love Is Killing Me), but it was great. The crowd knew it, all the arms waving in the air, all the excitement!

San Francisco setlist:
Much more detailed this time around because I took better notes-- Thomas, Sophia, and I all went through our memories of the LA show separately and together and we were surprised how many details we couldn't remember, so I decided to ensure that wasn't a problem this time!

  • Alien - not as stirring as Los Angeles, but maybe that's because I had heard it before!
  • In My Arms - brief war comment supporting peace. The crowd is dancing and excited now...
  • Blue Savannah - but Blue Savannah turns the volume up to full blast. Just thinking about how good this song is live makes me all excited!
  • Ship of Fools - counterpoint to the energy of the last three songs. The crowd remembers to breathe!
  • Solsbury Hill - Andy pulls up a chair and shows leg to Vince- "he likes it!" Video in the background is from the Solsbury Hill single. The crowd isn't as excited about it as they were in LA-- seems like the crowd is less focused on the new stuff in SF, and has a much better knowledge of the old stuff.
  • Chains of Love - Andy removes black dress behind the screen. Really punctuates the song. IIRC Andy did less fancy footwork in SF, although I can't be 100% sure. (vs. LA where he was dancing across the stage all night!)
  • Can't Help Falling In Love - I think it was there in LA too, but the loud bass beat was what I clearly remember here. It accentuated the song pretty well, and I wouldn't have expected it otherwise.
  • Oh L'Amour - Andy and the chorus singers sit on the lounge chair at the start. Andy blows kisses at audience after he stands up. Video in the background is the cartoon-crayon-style Kiss My Brain with the little stick figure girl.
  • Love To Hate You - The weird chickens video (literally just a video of rows of chickens skewered and turning in an oven!) plays in the background. Andy removes skirt frame, leaving corset, jockstrap, boots, and gloves. Strange video for a strange outfit!
  • Breath of Life - Fish in an elaborate fish tank for the video. Breath of Life is another older song that kicks *ss.
  • You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - Andy and the chorus sit at the start. It meshes quite well again with the older stuff.
  • Sometimes - Andy removes his corset showing us the front and back red marks from how tight it was (ouch!). The video is 2 dancing string puppets- one of the holding a guitar. Andy recieves flowers from the crowd at the end of song and sniffs them and stuff; the person who gave 'em had to be going nuts from the excitement!
  • Victim of Love - it's another great performance.
  • A Little Respect - Andy removes his gloves, leads the audience in 3 cheers for peace protestors. No cool little red hearts to wave around though, I wish I had brought mine!
  • Rock Me Gently - The bridge is again used for the costume change. The video is animation, a man set in the desert, cities, birds, cloaked people, coming in and out of existence, and he battles a snake before he dies, which then fades back into the sand and then a picture of a real human face of an old man (whose face, I don't know).
  • Chorus - don't miss this song. It's not elegant and smooth flowing like others, but the happy feel good attitude is unbelievable live!
  • Always - Again it's I Say I Say I Say's sole representaton, and it's a great one at that... as much as I do miss hearing Take Me Back and Blues Away. Doggie in a basket video, with the dog pointed at the camera- it's odd, but really cute.
  • Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) - Andy kisses Vince, just a little peck. Song is adored by all.
  • Piano Song - I recognized it this time. = Slows down the show, makes it feel like it'll end...
  • Goodnight - fools in the crowd thought it was the last one. Maybe they were pooped from dancing all night!
Encore:
  • True Love Ways - acoustic with just Vince and Andy in front of the music stand, just like LA. Particularly beautiful when done acoustically.
  • Stop! - The video is a camera pointed straight at a dryer with a clear window... you see the clothes flinging around inside. Weird! Crowd is absolutely wild at this point with Vince, Andy, and the chorus on stage... after the song ends, no one wants to leave until they lights turn on and we realize we have to leave!