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Erasure Show - Live In Cologne, The
I used to be amazingly embarrassed to admit I was a fan of Erasure, what with their overwhelmingly bubble-gummy music stylings, the mega-pop synthesizer reliance, and their overtly, well, let's say "effeminate" attitude. But that was back in late 80s and early 90s when I was supposed to be listening to classic rock or Seattle grunge. The admission that I still really dug Depeche Mode, New Order, and Erasure was a cross I would bear silently.
But no more, dammit: Hello, my name is Scott Weinberg -- and I'm an Erasure fan. ("Hiiiii, Scootttt!")
Bangin' away at the keyboards and pop-tunes since 1985 are Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, aka Erasure. The story goes like this: Clarke was once a member of Depeche Mode, but he quit after only one album and created "Yaz," and they banged out two albums. But then Mr. Clarke posted an ad in the London papers for a new front-man, and Andy Bell came a'callin'. Since then, the jaunty duo have been serving up Top 20 tunes for the past two decades. Sure, they're slowing down a bit these days, but there's little denying the impact this band made, back when it was at its most popular.
Recorded at a concert hall in Germany on March 28th, 2005, "Live in Cologne" might not be the band's most electrifying or musically impressive appearance, but it's just toe-tappy enough to keep the old school fans happy. (And let's be fair: Erasure is a 'studio band' all the way; even at their finest concerts, they weren't all that dazzling.)
The track-list reads like a jumbled and colorful "greatest hits" collection, and I had a pretty good time as I plopped down on the couch and played the "Oh man, I remember this song!" game. Here's what's included:
-Rock-a-Bye Baby (Yes, the lullaby.)
-No Doubt (from the 2005 album Nightbird)
-Hideaway (from the 1987 album The Circus)
-Victim of Love (from The Circus)
-Knocking on Your Door (from the 1988 EP Crackers International)
-The Circus (from The Circus)
-Breathe (from Nightbird)
-Ship of Fools (from the 1988 album The Innocents)
-Drama! (from the 1989 album Wild!)
-All This Time Still Falling Out of Love (from Nightbird)
-Stop! (from Crackers International)
-Rapture (from the 1997 album Cowboy)
-Breath of Life (from the 1991 album Chorus)
-A Little Respect (from The Innocents)
-I Broke It All in Two (from Nightbird)
-Chains of Love (from The Innocents)
-Chorus (from Chorus)
-Love to Hate You (from Chorus)
-Blue Savannah (from Wild!)
-Always (from the 1994 album I Say I Say I Say)
-Who Needs Love (Like That) (from the 1986 album Wonderland)
-Oh L'Amour (from Wonderland)
-I Bet You're Mad at Me (from Nightbird)
-Sometimes (from The Circus)
But while it surely was a whole lot of fun to revisit with these jaunty ol' pop tunes, I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that ... the guys just don't sound all that hot in concert. Generally reliant on all sorts of studio-magic, Erasure simply isn't a band that translates too well to the stage. I saw 'em live in the early 90s, and they didn't sound so great back then, either. And that was 13 years ago. Bell and Clarke still have energy to spare, but the voices sound a little more limp and the synthos sound just a little less exciting.
As a casual fan of the band, I'll stick with the old CDs. (My favorites are "The Innocents," "Wild," and (of course) the Greatest Hits collection.) Hardcore Erasurites, on the other hand, should absolutely enjoy what's offered here. The concert itself runs a solid 100 minutes, and there's just enough supplemental material to keep your dancin' shoes happy.
Video: It's a pretty solid widescreen transfer, keeping in mind that it's a rather low-budget concert recording.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or PCM Stereo 2.0. Um, I say stick with the 5.1.
Extras: Live in Copenhagen offers a trio of bonus tunes: "In My Arms," "Come Up and See Me," and "Piano Song." The Making of Live in Cologine is a 5-minute featurette that goes behind the scenes of the tour preparations. Also included is a 16-minute Interview with Andy and Vince, a 3-minute time-lapse view of the stage set-up, and three music videos from Erasure's newest CD: "Breathe," "Don't Say You Love Me," and "All This Time Still Falling Out of Love."
If you're an old-school Erasure fan, you could certainly find worse ways than to part with 15 bucks.