Erasure at Fillmore

Published on June 3rd, 2018

Erasure in Dresden by Jens Jäpel

A funny thing about perseverance is how powerful it looks in hindsight. For Erasure, two Brits navigating a chaotic mid-’80s scene that was part punk and part synth, it’s easier now to see how their idea for music — an exuberant, all-out return to the dance floor; a kind of disco nouveau — would not have been the obvious choice.

But perseverance can be made up of many things, from vision to gumption to limited information to a lack of other options. Whatever Erasure’s brand of stick-to-itiveness, musician Vince Clarke and vocalist Andy Bell soldiered on through the collective shrug that greeted their 1986 debut, “Wonderland.”

The real payoff for being tough to discourage came two albums later, with 1988’s “The Innocents,” which begat the beloved singles “Ship of Fools,” “A Little Respect” and the ocean-crossing U.K.-U.S. smash, “Chains of Love.”

Synth-pop won out over punk (and would itself be eclipsed later on by Britpop and grunge), and British and European club culture rallied to Clarke, formerly of Yazoo and Depeche Mode, and Bell, an unknown until he answered Clarke’s classified ad for a singer. Then it was on to North America, where Erasure became LGBT icons, especially the matter-of-factly “out” Bell, whose perseverance encompassed a refusal to hide who he was. Erasure today stands as one of synth-pop’s more successful and lauded acts, primarily for records released 1987-1994, but with a still-durable creative chemistry.

Choosing Miami Beach as the kickoff for their summer U.S. tour makes personal and professional sense. Bell’s new husband is from Florida, and Erasure has developed a serious fan base in the state’s southeast. In an April interview with Baltimore OUTLoud, Bell quipped that he feels like a “homecoming queen” whenever he plays  South Florida.

The tour supports a new(ish) album, 2017’s “World Be Gone,” which was re-released this past March as “World Beyond,” a collaborative reinterpretation with the Belgian group Echo Collective. Far from the synth-poppy melodrama that made them danceable monsters, this album is a surreptitious show of how they’ve transcended — and persevered — to become timelessly classic.

Erasure performs July 6 at the Fillmore Miami Beach. ~ Abel Folgar

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