Just after doffing his angel wings Monday night at the 9:30 club, Erasure vocalist Andy Bell apologized for the duo's two-night stand having been rescheduled from last month. "I'm not a diva, honestly," he insisted.
In fact Bell did have plenty of legitimate reasons for postponing the gigs, including recuperation from double hip-replacement surgery last year. But of course he is a diva. That's the whole point of Erasure's campy, pulsing music, which combines synth-pop, disco, cabaret, light opera and a bit of English choirboy sound. This show wasn't the most elaborate Erasure has ever staged in Washington, but it did include an enchanted-forest set, two backup singers in Marilyn Monroe dresses and several costume changes for Bell, who finally returned to the stage as a fan dancer, dressed only in gold-spangled trunks and matching boots.
While Bell pranced, composer Vince Clarke supervised the music, which was mostly programmed, and inaudibly strummed an acoustic guitar.
His big moment came during a cover of Blondie's "Rapture," when he vocodered the rap interlude while Bell was offstage switching outfits. Yet the capacity crowd was cheering Clarke at the sound of every familiar synth pattern, introducing the Erasure standards "Hideaway," "Chains of Love" and "Sometimes," among others. Bell rode these simple and upbeat (if often plaintive) dance-floor anthems with glittery panache, but it was Clarke who provided the locomotion.
-- Mark Jenkins