Erasure appeared for the first time in Utah on Saturday night, attracting almost 11,000 fans to Parkwest for their performance.
Despite the ominous storm clouds on the horizon, traffic was backed up to the Park City offramp two hours before the concert started.Shona Laing, a relative newcomer whose hit "Soviet Snow" is now receiving airplay in the United States, opened for Erasure.
Her New Zealand style of folk singing combines guitar and reggae rhythms with the saxophone, sounding reminiscent of American folk singers of the sixties. Many of the tunes took a liberal political bent, especially "Neutral and Nuclear Free," about New Zealand's status as a nuclear-free country.
Several of her songs dwelled on the need to respect human rights, mentioning the "right to live a life free of fear of devastation."
After Laing concluded, the crowd waited anxiously for Erasure to appear. The young fans began to migrate toward the stage; this was not a show to be enjoyed sitting down.
When the curtain finally rose, lead singer Andy Bell burst forth, greeting the crowd with a high-pitched "Good evening, sweethearts!" Dressed in a leather circus ringmaster's blazer and a rubber bathing suit over striped tights, Andy pranced about the stage to the opening song "Phantom Bride."
Unlike Bell, who enjoys being the center of attention, Vince Clarke stayed off center stage for most of the show masterminding the keyboards and drum machine.
Bell is open about his homosexuality and introduced the song "A Little Respect" with a story. "When I was a little girl," he began, "I asked my mummy, `What will happen if I grow up to be a homosexual?' `Son, it doesn't matter,' she answered, `so long as you have a little respect.' "
If the crowd was offended by his sexual orientation, they didn't show it. They were there to enjoy the music, and it is likely that most of this young crowd was unaware of Bell's inclination before attending the concert.
Many of the songs were from Erasure's newest album, "The Innocents," but the group also sang some of their earlier hits, such as the single "Who Needs Love Like That," and "Oh L'Amour" from the "Wonderland" album. From their second album, "Circus," they played "Victim of Love" and "It Doesn't Have To Be That Way."
The audience sang along with these earlier hits, and cheered the introduction of the gospel tune "Yahoo." This is one of the best examples of Erasure's exuberant energy that kept the crowd on its feet and dancing.
Early in the concert, Bell stopped to introduce backup singers Emma and Valerie Chalmers, who were dressed almost identically. "Yes," he confirmed the audience's suspicions, "they're sisters."
The Chalmers sisters helped to fine-tune Bell's winning voice, but he still stole the show.
Bell may very well be the best thing that ever happened to Vince Clarke. After the brief stardom of the band Yaz, with singer Alison Moyet, Clarke sought out a vocalist to complement his instrumental expertise.
An advertisement in the British musical weekly Melody Maker yielded 43 responses, and Bell, at 22, was Clarke's choice. The two have worked together since early 1985 and are signed to produce six albums for Warner Bros.