Sunday, July 15, 2007

The post-Erasure concert report

I know it’s a week late but it was a busy week….

Well, I survived my weekend trip to Orlando to see Erasure and catch up with my friend John. I’ve known John for nearly 24 years now, and while we don’t get to see each other very often, when we do get together, we pick right back up where we left off just like we saw each other yesterday. The added fun of the trip was that it wasn’t just me & Crys making the trip, but my buddy Chris and his girlfriend Victoria made the trip with us, and it was a blast all the way around. I’ve also known Chris for almost 24 years, and to see the show with my oldest friends in the world made it even better.

The show was at the Hard Rock Café at Universal Studios. Knowing full well that the crowds would get THICK around showtime from our experience of seeing them at the House of Blues in Orlando in 2005, we got there hella early. Plus, it was a standing-room-only type general admission, and first-come, first-serve. We were eating dinner before 5PM and the show started at 8PM, so yeah, we weren’t gonna take any chances on getting a shitty view of the stage. Dinner was at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, about as touristy as you can get in a place that was packed ass to elbow with tourists. By no means am I a fan of Buffet’s music (especially played at a volume level that was louder than the concert was later on) but damn that was some realllly good food. That was the first $10.00 burger I’d ever eaten that was actually worth the tenner. I sorta felt a bit raped at having spent $4.75 on a bottle of mediocre American pilsner (Landshark is the name. Think Corona without the pissy aftertaste) but hey, you can’t always find a Sam Adams everywhere.

We got to the Hard Rock at perhaps 6:00, and there was already a tiny knot of people milling about; the Die Hards. These are my kind of people. These are the people who have listened for 15-20 years, know all the words, really get into the show, and are generally super-friendly. I inserted myself into a discussion on favorite albums while we waited, and as a few more people started to show, we met two couples who would end up being our new best friends. Melissa and Melia live in the Fort Meyers area, and Tony and Bailey live right outside Orlando. After 45 minutes I felt like I’d known all four for years. This meant that everyone around me at the show was guaranteed to be cool people, and that it was gonna be a great show.

Doors opened at 7:00 and after the obligatory near-strip-search at the door by the Venue Gestapo, we hustled our asses to the stage, where we planted ourselves firmly at FRONT ROW CENTER. Hot holy shit. This was a dream come true for Crys, and I was obviously stoked too. We were literally 5 feet from Andy Bell.

The opening act was a band I’d never heard of but who made a great impression on me. Scissors For Lefty are a San Francisco band of two sets of brothers who have a bright future ahead of them. It’s dancy rock that reminded me of The Killers with just a hint of The Clash thrown in. It’s been a long time since I’d seen a band who looked like they were having that much fun playing a show, especially guitarist Robby Garza, who had a grin on his face the entire set. Bassist Steve Garza swung his bass around like a modern-day Mick Jones. Vocalist Bryan Garza hopped down in front of us during one song & kissed Crys’ hand. The entire band, including Peter Krimmel (synths/guitars) and James Krimmel (drums) hung out after the show for pictures and autographs. Completely class act, these fellas. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

Gawd, what can I say about Erasure’s set? It was incredible. The sound was great. Skeptics and critics would say that since 90% of the instrumentation is pre-programmed by synth-meister Vince Clarke that of course the sound is great, but it’s Andy who makes the show. His vocals are completely spot-on and sounds almost exactly like the studio albums. The setlist was a genius blend of new material from the album “Light at the End of the World”, and classic Erasure hits from the span of their 22-year career. Early in the show, Andy reached down and touched Bailey’s hand, and I thought he was gonna faint from the excitement. A few songs later, Bailey and Melissa fought briefly over Andy’s sweat-towel until Andy tossed a second one down to them. I kinda wanted one too…..but Andy did smile at us several times and waved at us all through the show.

The only downer at all in the concert was the girl next to John. Somehow she didn’t quite get the fact that the show is pre-sequenced and the setlist can’t be changed midway through to accommodate a screamed request. This is why she kept screaming “DARLEEEEEEEEEEEENE!!!! I’M DARLENE!!!!” after every song, letting us all know that her name was Darlene and that she wanted Andy to sing the song of the same name from the new album. After the fourth song, I wanted John to punch her in the throat. By song 7 I was about to do it myself. By song ten, Andy was looking down at her like he wanted to smash her in the face with the mike-stand. By song 12, she had incurred the wrath of he entire front row, straight & gay alike all united in wanting to stuff a sweat-towel in her yap. The funniest part of the show was at the very end when during an impromptu acapella chorus by the crowd to the final encore song “Stop!” Andy missed his cue when the music started again. He laughed, Vince laughed, the backing singers laughed, and we all thought it was priceless.

About ¾ of the way through the show, I looked to my left and right, and realized just how good I felt. I was surrounded by the people I’m closest to in the world, and some really great new friends, and listening to some of my favorite music, with a completely unobstructed view of the band a few feet away. Everyone around me was having such a good time. It was one of those snapshot moments that you want to hold onto forever.

Orlando Setlist:
Sunday Girl
Blue Savannah
I Could Fall In Love With You
Fly Away
Storm In a Teacup
Chains of Love
Breath of Life
Love to Hate You
Sucker for Love
-----------------intermission and outfit changes-------------------------
A Little Respect
When a Lover Leaves You
Oh L'Amour
Golden Heart
Ship Of Fools
How My Eyes Adore You
Glass Angel

1 comment:

John said...

You are correct, sir... it was truly the best concert I've ever been to. (And by the way, you forgot to mention getting 35% off at Jimmy Buffett's because I know some of the managers there...)

For those who may be interested... this link is my comments about the show (I'm the "John" he's talking about, who had DARLEEEEEEEEEENNNE!!!! screaming in my ear between every song.)