Review: Erasure kicks off flashy, flair-filled tour at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa
There are few performers with the panache to take the stage clad in spangled red blazer and black Roman gladiator helmet. Erasure’s Andy Bell is one of them. Perhaps the only one.
Bell’s performances – vocal, theatrical and sartorial – have been revealing the limitations of the description “flamboyant” for a quarter-century now. He didn’t disappoint on any front Wednesday at the Ritz Ybor.
The 85-minute set opened Erasure’s “Tomorrow’s World” tour, a mere six days after Bell and instrumentalist-producer Vince Clark wrapped its “Total Pop” tour in Mexico City.
The show seemed paced to allow Bell to ease in, beginning with the slow, stately Sono Luminus, a subdued Always and the mid-tempo When I Start To (Break It All Down), the first single from Tomorrow’s World, the new album set for release in October.
Bell doffed his jacket after the third number (the helmet lasted for only the first) to reveal a black corset-vest hugging physique that has logged considerable gym hours since the group’s last Tampa appearance in 2007.
The beats-per-minute were upped considerably for Blue Savannah, setting Bell in motion dancing frenetically across the stage.
Clark spent most of the show behind a giant gargoyle prop that served as a podium for his laptop (and appeared to have been borrowed from one of Ozzy Osbourne’s 1980s tours). He emerged for an acoustic guitar-plus-beats reading of Alien, which also spotlighted the pair of stunning backing vocalists who backed Bell throughout the evening.
Clark swapped the guitar for a pair of scissors following Victim of Love, when Bell insisted his corset be removed. Clark snipped the strings and Bell donned a sleeveless Michael Jackson T-shirt to roars of approval from the crowd.
The set contained five new songs, only one of which has been officially released. The crowd’s enthusiasm never flagged though, due in no small part to its devotion to the veteran elector-pop crew, but also to the quality of the new material.
However, even the most casual of Erasure fans could have predicted the trio of tunes which closed the show – Chains of Love, A Little Respect and a one-song encore of Oh L’Amour.
Perhaps the only downside was the brevity of the set – at less than 90 minutes, Erasure proved it’s of the leave-‘em-wanting-more school of entertainers.
-- Curtis Ross, tbt*. Photo (not from Wednesday's show): Heiko Prigge