Saturday, 21 June 2008

The story remains the same...

Yazoo @ Hammersmith Apollo, London, Weds 16th July

Lines from the opening track, Nobody's Diary, rang loud and true this evening: "That look in your eyes, I always recognise / Would tell me everything is gonna be fine / You're gonna be mine / For a long time" Not only were Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet reuniting after a generation apart but they were also reuniting with their audience. And judging by the slightly balder of pates, wider of girths and jowlier of faces, it's been a VERY long time.

Time enough for everyone to play the two Yazoo albums Upstairs at Eric's and You and Me Both, over and over again memorising every line, bleep, bang, crash and wallop. Alison (I much preferred the Alf tag) has said how she expects the crowds to know the songs inside out and this tour has only proved it. A bloke next to me near wet himself at the choppy Nobody's Diary opening and sang every word including Alf's gutsy groans. Bad Connection followed and it was then the full scale of how the Yazoo sound has been updated hit home. It's a big and beefy sound with the higher synths being crisper and almost dazzling they're that bright. The arrangements have hardly altered at all and that was the beauty of the performance.

Frozen in amber, Yazoo's music, a canon of only about 25 songs, hasn't been through the arrangement mill like say, Eurythmics' electro tracks have. The 18 month lifespan of Yazoo v1.0 - as opposed to the 20 years of Annie 'n' Dave - has meant that the trumpets, guitars and, heaven forbid, REAL drummers have been kept well away from obvious contenders for deconstruction like Goodbye 70's and Bring Your Love Down - both electro funk affairs that sounded huge this evening. The timeless quality of these tracks belies the fact that both Vince and Alf were only 21 when they wrote them. How amazing.

Clicky piccy, make it biggy. These live pics are from a fab gallery over at

In some ways, Yazoo's sound owed a lot to their different characters: cold and silent versus hot and tempestuous. And these differences, the odd couple, was reflected in the set. A kind of hers 'n' his affair with bopping Alf on one side (with cute Adele-type bangs going on in her hair) and immobile Vince on the other behind his Apple laptop and midi keyboard. The huge screens behind them had images reflecting each song, like candy for Sweet Thing and garish wallpaper for Goodbye 70s and during In My Room and huge red bulb swung between the two. And for the latter song, Alf was sat on an armchair midstage looking like the old Maxell cassette tape TV ad. Marking the interval (the set is 80 minutes long) an old reel-to-reel tape machine is wheeled on while the instrumental I Before E Except After C is played. I went to get a couple of beers and came back just in time to hear one of the highlights of Upstairs at Eric's, the producer's mum laughing maniacally after declaring: "Yes I'm alright...".

Seeing tracks like Walk Away From Love, Too Pieces, State Farm and Ode to Boy performed live, in front of your very eyes by the very live Yazoo has a proper pinch-yourself quality. The sense of something special going on could be felt by the way the crowd reacted. EVERY song was greeted with huge cheers, although at one point, Alf asked for a "bit of hush" for the gorgeous solo piano-led Winter Kills. The audience duly complied and was rewarded with a beautifully measured vocal from Alf. Midnight, on the other hand, allowed her to stretch her unique throaty soulful voice but staying true to every intonation she originally laid onto vinyl 25 years ago. The three hits played at the end, Situation, Don't Go and Only You (for the encore) had the audience lifting the roof off in appreciation. There was a sweet emotional scene at the end of Don't Go where a beaming Vince jumped from his platform to an equally ecstatic Alison where they hugged, waved to the crowd and she shouted "Thank You. We're Yazoo, goodnight!". Simple, devastatingly effective and burned on the memory stick forever.


One lovely surprise of the evening was finding myself sat behind Tricky's Richard. An equally enthusiastic live music nut, he bopped away at the end to the hits. When I told him I was disappointed not to hear the forgotten (and apparently much despised by Yazoo) hit The Other Side of Love he replied that it would be the big capital lettered BUT in my review. So there it is.

And here IT is.

The Other Side of Love (12") - Yazoo (zShare)


Anonymous said...

Brilliant review, I agree entirely, saw them in Brighton and it sounds much the same even down to your description of the audience! I just so hope that they stay together a little while longer to give us one new album and a tour to support it with ticket prices just a bit more reasonable! Well done, love the Grace Jones review too, wish I could have been there.


Tricky said...

... it ended up being a small 'but' - I don't think either of us had too many reservations about that show...