Sunday, November 30, 2014

29.11.2014 ERASURE @ Civic Hall, Wolverhampton + support act: Shelter

Erasure’s 16th studio album ‘The Violet Flame’ came out in September 2014 and catapulted the band back where they belong: On Top Of Their Game!

With long-term fans agreeing that this has got to be their best album in a decade, most of the worldwide media seems to agree, too, hardly ever a bad word is spoken about this little masterpiece. Not surprising then that many dates on their tour are sold out and tickets are becoming a privileged thing to possess.

But is the hype worth going to see them, I hear you asking? – The simple answer, and the truth at that, is: ABSOLUTELY

Support act SHELTER open up in Wolverhampton on their first of eight dates with Erasure. Shelter themselves released their epic album ‘Emerge’ just recently and their best known song, thus far, is ‘Beautiful’, the single they recorded with Erasure frontman Any Bell, although he is not joining them on stage during their 30 minutes set.

At times very “Modern Talking-ish” to watch it feels strange to watch a new act behaving like an 80’s band yet they do it while showing great admiration for the times past and they are very enjoyable to watch and to listen to.

The 1980s, of course, is where Erasure slotted in just nicely, but 29 years going, and often going strong, is evidence enough that they are not and never have been a pure and simple 80s band and because they were daring all throughout their career it has cost them a fair junk of their fan base, although, judging by the amount of people in the hall and the sold out gigs everywhere, the fanbase is growing again and the old guard is going strong.

The set consisted of many of their greatest hits, including ‘Sometimes’, ‘Always’, ‘Stop’ and more. The songs often were performed in a remix fashion and 12-inch style, allowing classic Vince Clark synthlines to shine and allowing the audience to dance wildly, not that Andy bell was holding back much with his dancing either.

With backing vocalists Emma an Valerie by his side and with an impressive vocal range that seems to be getting better from release to release, we were in for a real treat.

‘Dead Of Night’, ‘Reason’, ‘Elevation’ and ‘Sacred’ all from their latest album fitted in easily with the rest of the set and sounded both contemporary as well as classic Erasure. Indeed it was the two-song run of ‘Sacred’ and their 2005 hit ‘Breathe’ that delivered pure magic in a less dancy kind of way.

This gig was an in-your-face reminder that Erasure aren’t done by a long shot and that they not only have plenty of life left in them but are also proud of their backcatalogue without having to rely on it completely.

Monday, November 10, 2014

08.11.2014 La Roux @ The Institute, Birmingham

On a rather chilly night La Roux as well as support act ‘Meanwhile’ brought heat to the venue.

‘Meanwhile’ was hard to classify (which is always a plus) as their songs were  reminiscent of ABC, David Bowie and Heaven 17 all at the same time while being unique as well. Not all songs were necessarily great material but enjoyable nonetheless. Because of the retro feel to Meanwhile’s music I don’t think they will dent the charts anytime soon yet there is a part of me that wishes them well and wants the band to prove me wrong. 30 odd years ago they would have been a smash hit 

Not long after ‘Meanwhile’ vacated the stage La Roux aka Ellie Jackson and her four-piece band came on and from the first beat onward it was a sonic feast.

Songs from both albums were equally embraced by the audience and at some stage Ellie looked at the setlist and said: “I am actually annoyed that there aren't more songs”. Perhaps these words will be an indication that there won’t be another 5 years in-between album releases.

Ellie was in control of her voice and her audience throughout the evening and her band was fantastic and very motivated, they were all fun to watch and to listen to.

Superb !

Photo credit: Nicole Valentin

Friday, October 31, 2014

30.10.2014 LAMB (and support act The Ramona Flowers) @ The Institute Birmingham

Isn’t it funny how misery can add charm to a performance?! LAMB bass player Johnny came on stage with an injured leg while Andy Barlow’s & Lou Rhodes’ lighting technician apparently spent his time in the hotel throwing up, leaving the Institutes in-house lighting guy to add pulsating light effects to a pulsating, high energy show.

Promoting their new album ‘Backspace unwind’ brings LAMB to Birmingham and ,although the hall is not that full, they were bringing the house down. They sure know how to work the crowd.

The majority of the tracks came from the new album and Lou Rhodes delivered beautiful vocals over Andy’s often almost ambient beats and soundscapes.

In her white gown Lou looked simply stunning and the way she carries herself on stage lets listeners/viewers escape to their own worlds while being fully present to witness one of Britains best electroic acts doing their magic on stage.

Older gems like the chart topping ‘Gabriel’ or ‘What Sound’ also enriched the set and there is just nothing anyone could find to dampen the experience. One could really see and feel how enthusiastic LAMB are to perform live and it has been a great experience.

Easily 5 stars out of 5

Opening act The Ramona Flowers also rocked the house albeit it to a somewhat limited response which seems to be the fate of support acts who often play in confined spaces, limited light effects and a not-so-great sound. They played quite a few numbers from their current album and, given the right tools, could go far in the industry.