2005 has been a very nice year for Erasure and their fans. For the band, it has seen their twentieth anniversary as a group. In an age of disposable American Idols and record company shakeouts, that's the kind of legacy that we'll unfortunately begin to see less and less. But not only have they stuck around all this while, they've continued to provide the same thing they always have: quality albums filled with the catchiest electro-pop this side of the Pet Shop Boys. Granted, some albums have been better than others (Loveboat sounds like it was mixed on the train in a hurry, while going to work), but even a bad Erasure album is still a good day.
For the fans of Erasure, 2005 started off bright and early with the release of arguably the best album from their second decade as a group. Nightbird finds Andy and Vince showing just how practice makes perfect on tracks such as "No Doubt," "Here I Go Impossible Again," "Breathe" and "Don't Say You Love Me," with some of their most natural and tuneful writing to date. And now, to bookend 2005, we have the release of The Erasure Show: Live In Cologne on DVD.
This new video release serves as both a new tour release, and also an excellent best-of affair. With a catalog as deep as Erasure's, you're not at a lack for quality material to round out your concert. And although Nightbird is understandably the single most heavily represented album (with five songs), there are a lot of other albums of material to cover. Everything from "Oh L'amour" and non-single fan favorites like "Hideaway" are represented, all the way through their grandiose self-titled 1995 affair (their second decade is curiously empty during the main concert, although a couple tracks are picked up in the bonus features). This is the concert for the fans.
The show opens with a nicely done lullabye of "Rock-a-bye Baby," before introducing the members on stage with the Nightbird album-opener "No Doubt." From the start, the sound is very impressive. Andy is in top vocal form, and receives able help from his two female backups. Andy's vocals tend to be hit-or-miss in live settings. He is an energetic and emotive stageman, but sometimes has suffered his share of pitch problems during a show (which could just be monitor problems, but all the same). But this night, however, thunderbirds are go. The vocals are very nice, including a great intermission-style rendition of "Ave Maria", songs are arranged very much like the albums (per the intent of the tour, as explained in the interview section), and at twenty-five tracks the concert is a nice chance for the viewers at home to kick back and take it all in.