Last night a DJ saved my life - and his name was Vince Clarke.
Yazoo were a little before my time. I've seen Alison perform Only you at G-A-Y and loved it, but back when they were recording as a duo, it was in the period just immediately before I became aware of pop music. Even now I don't really know the album tracks - for some reason I have never owned those records. But when the opportunity to see them reunited came up, I didn't really think twice about going. Neither did good friend SM, who came with me to the Hammersmith Apollo. It just seemed we needed to go and witness this combination of such a great singer and the man who made all that Erasure music for so many years. A funny way of looking at it perhaps, but boy am I glad I went.
They did not bother new material or cover versions. They didn't remix or re-swizzle any of the songs. Perhaps Vince lightly tweaked the arrangements, but overall, what came over was a precise, crisp re-enactment of great pop songs originally recorded a very long time ago, being performed perfectly. A few things had changed since they last played live. For starters, the stage set was completely modern and 2008. Vince had his corner, Alison had hers, but the dangling video tubes behind them were one cinema screen divided across two box stages. It was very clever, simple and beautiful. I did wonder if they had seen the Pet Shop Boys' Cubism tour and been influenced by that - the neon reminded me somewhat. They had moved on the concept somewhat - it a simple, light-based set with the video then a clever multi-layered light ceiling hanging above them. Truly they seemed to be in their own space, and when Alison sat in an armchair and sang In my room, we might as well have been back in their 80s bedsit, albeit with somewhat more fabulous illuminations.
The show was book-ended with their hits. The opening number was Nobody's diary, greeted rapturously. In fact, almost immediately it became clear that Vince and Alison had the home team on board. I saw Darren Hayes waft past beforehand in the bar and I wondered who else notable was in the crowd. If they had been, it would have been nowhere near me. We managed to get our seats when there was just one date on the schedule, and were high up in the Circle above the breathless gays in the front row. However, what was lost on proximity was gained on overall perspective and the atmosphere was as electric as the music. For many it was perhaps rather like meeting someone one had shared something, a letter, email or in this case a piece of music, with many times but never seen in the flesh. Strange, then, that two rows behind me was literally someone I have often written to but never met - Worrapolava Phil! So it turned into an evening of dual significance.
The final three numbers were pop gold. After all the album tracks, which were giddily received, suddenly we had the big guns... Situation and Don't go had every person on their feet, even the 'slightly older' gentleman with a thatch of white hair in front of me. But their single-song encore, the encore to end all encores was Only you. The audience bellowed every word like a football anthem. Alison must have sung that song hundreds of times over the years, yet this one was the one - it was positively moving. 'We are Yazoo, good night!,' she said. Immaculate, perfect.
Time for a before and after (or the other way around, in this case):
Yazoo Only you, then and now