Thursday the 15th was a rare rewind to an 80s pop house style of raving for Southampton.
Erasure, supported by the London electronica group Ekkoes, created a thoroughly exciting revival of those crucial synth-pop vibes. Erasure is touring worldwide, celebrating the group’s newest album release, World Be Gone. It’s an album that encapsulates the grittiness of emotion and the holism of love. Altering and recreating the sounds from their past seems to be something 80s synth-pop fans are fascinated by. It’s safe to say, Southampton Guildhall became transfixed under neon lights, by the powerful sounds from both Erasure and Ekkoes
The show was opened unexpectedly by Ekkoes, a powerful divergent of the classic club filling sound of the 80s. Bright Light Bright Light was expected to be Erasure’s supporting act but for undisclosed reasons, Ekkoes filled in for the Welsh singer. However, there was no need to be concerned. Ekkoes sounded crisp and refreshing and their music is very get up and go. Their powerful moving lyrics tell stories of struggle and determination, reflecting a disgruntled generation of misrepresented individuals united against the processes of formality. They use song to protest the harshness of existing and social difficulties.
After Ekkoes deliver a 45 minute warm-up act, it was onto the main event and an increasingly excited audience was palpable for the headline act. The event had been totally sold out and the room was ready for Erasure to appear.
The Main Event!
The brief break between performances gave me a chance to absorb the culture of the baby boomer generation. I began to see how this genre of music must have influenced a lot of the sounds of today’s club culture – and how it’s symbiotic to the digital age.
Come 21:30 Erasure had begun and it was as if I had been cast back in time. I felt a presence of unity and respect amongst the crowd. Heavy progression and empowering lyrics brought this mood out and let it dance. It became morphed and cradled by the other members of the audience and somehow, through the lyrics and the sound of the music, everyone become closer and less tense about reality.
The brainchild of Erasure is Vince Clarke, an 80s superstar who wrote a plethora of music for bands like Depeche Mode, Yazoo and The Assembly before Andy Bell and he became the famous synth-pop duo. I was taken away by the fury he holds onto when producing music. It speaks out to people inspired by music; he physically controlled all of the sound within the show and it was monstrous. I felt both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the end. It was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think but it was extremely resonate within me. Clarke is an inspiring and resourceful musician, even today, over 30 years after he rose to prominence.
“A serenading accompaniment to diverse parties”
We were treated to some unreleased music as well as renditions of the brilliant promotional release tracks Oh What A World and Still It’s Not Over. They held me in awe, under the progressive light show that had dream-pop pioneer Vince Clarke upon a neon pillar that was centre stage all night, up until the final sing-along of Sometimes.
The song was wonderfully harmonised by two brilliant backing vocalists. The deep bass sent quivers through the crowd. Singer Andy Bell was more of laugh than I had expected. You can tell he is so invigorated by singing and has a powerful sense of appreciation for his fans. He seems to be guided by the excitement they give him.
The more it crossed my mind, the more I found that pop music in the 80s was just like it is now; a serenading accompaniment to diverse parties. Towards the end of the concert I even began to imagine the scenarios in which this audience may have enjoyed the sounds in the heydays. Plenty of lycra, aerobics and neo-soul clubbing atmosphere travelled through my mind.
Overall, the show was a fantastic experience. You couldn’t not enjoy the revivalism of jaded love more than when in Andy Bell’s company. It’s considered a socially challenging genre which stood out to me and influenced my experience of the concert. Most of all, it was visually chilling to witness some old timers having another whirl at early electro bass. Keep those fires burning!