The O2, London - 21 October 2021

"An epic set of 24 songs"

I am not a fan of large venues and the 02 in Greenwich is one of the largest so it needs to be a very special line up for me to go to a gig there (the last time was for Soft Cells Farewell gig - and had I known I would be seeing them again in November - who knows). But on this occasion it was simply the chance to see two of my favourite acts on the same night.

The acts in question being Blancmange and Erasure and I had to contrast the setting for the evening with the last time I went to see Blancmange at the small Colchester Arts Centre and the first ever Erasure gig I went to at the Marquee in Wardour Street.

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Photos L-R: Blancmange

Tonight's Blancmange set was a somewhat abbreviated version of the set they played when headlining in Colchester, but Neil Arthur still managed to engage the audience and provided a set which was a mix of early 1980’s Blancmange Living on the Ceiling, Feel Me Know, Don’t Tell Me and a good mix of some later material including Commercial Breakdown and What’s The Time (one of my favourite recent Blancmange tracks).

There were obviously some 80's/late 70's fans in the audience as during Feel Me Now Neil added his "Lal a lal la lal lal lal la, lal la lal lal lal la, New York, London, Paris, Munich" and got the response from the audience "Everybody talk about Pop Music". Then came what I suspected would be the first Abba cover "The Day Before You Came" with Neil singing to piano accompaniment - very subtle and beautiful.

The setup was very simple with Neil on vocals and a keyboard player and percussionist to the side. As ever, it was the wit and entertainment of Neil's inter-song comments that added to the performance.

Back in 1985 the setup for Erasure was, as I recall, Andy on vocals, Vince sitting behind a Casio CZ1000 and CZ101 combination and a number of pedestals which Andy introduced as the other band members an Oberheim Expander, a Yamaha TX816 (8 DX7s in a rack) and a Yamaha RX11 drum machine. A far cry from the set up for the evening with dual swings and a children’s push around roundabout (which have probably been banned now for health and safety reasons) alongside a raised a dais on each side with a further higher dais at the back which housed Vince’s keyboard and computer rig and acoustic guitar.

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Photos L-R: Erasure

The set opened with the Joe 90 theme and a projection of the 'Big Rat' on the screens at the back - which kind of set the scene for the performance.

Vince entered the stage looking very much like an assistant bank manager in a suit with white shirt and tie. While Andy sported a very 'understated' number, consisting of yellow checked trousers and a blue corset (OK, maybe I lied about understated). They were joined on stage by two backing vocalists dressed in very luminous gowns. It was a very dazzling spectacle.

I will say if you're an Erasure fan you certainly got value for money, as they performed an epic set list of twenty four old and new songs. Including a cover version of Love Is A Stranger by the Eurythmics, but alas no Abba songs from Abbaesque, which was my only slight disappointment for the evening.

About half way through the set came the major interaction by Vince with Andy, when he cut him out of his corset with a pair of scissors, with Andy making the comment "Is it that time already?!", and changing into a yellow T-shirt replete with the Monkey selfie on it 😊.

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Photos L-R: Erasure

For the encore they were joined by the Funky Voices choir who had asked if they could join during an online session amid lockdown and their request was granted. This together with a ticker tape explosion at the end completed the session.

If I have one misgiving, I am still not convinced that Vince played much live (although I could be doing him an injustice), but then when you have the back catalogue of Erasure, The Assembly, Yazoo and Depeche Mode (not to mention DOME, MGVC and Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle), I guess you it would be churlish to question his abilities.

Intro: Joe 90 Theme, Chorus, Hey Now (Think I Got A Feeling), Fill Us With Fire, Sacred, The Circus, Who Needs Love Like That, Nerves of Steel, Blue Savannah, Chains of Love, Turns The Love To Anger, Careful What I Try To Do, Sometimes, Save Me Darling, Shot A Satellite, Love to Hate You, Love Is a Stranger (Eurythmics cover), Drama!, Always, Stop!, Push Me Shove Me, Victim of Love,  Encore: Oh l'amour (with Funky Voices), A Little Respect (with Funky Voices)

Blancmange: 9/10 / Erasure: 9/10 and Andy 10/10 if only for surviving 24 songs

Review + Photos: Mark Smith