If you’re as big an ’80s pop fan as I am, you know Yaz. And you love them. Since I happened to be in London this week on “holiday” (as the locals say), I made sure to get my arse to the Hammersmith Apollo theater to catch the seminal British duo’s “Reconnected Tour,” marking their first live appearances since disbanding in 1983.
And oh my God, but for one hour and 20 minutes last night, I was back in junior high… just without all the painful tweenybopper awkwardness. When force-of-nature vocalist Alison Moyet (pictured) took the stage and sang the first line of “Nobody’s Diary” (“If I wait for just a second more…”), the 25-year lag time since the single’s release simply disappeared. Moyet and keyboardist/programmer Vince Clarke (now the mastermind behind another classic Britpop duo, Erasure), performed 21 tunes in all, to the intense delight of the largely gay audience (this was one of those rare events where the men’s room line was longer than the women’s). The staging was stark — Moyet and Clarke, both in all black, stood on a bare stage save for two video screens showing images from their old videos or graphics reminiscent of Space Invaders. But the visual minimalism only centered the attention on Clarke’s brilliant songs: “Mr. Blue,” “Bad Connection,” and what Moyet called “one of my favorites,” “Ode to Boy.” (Incidentally, they performed one tune called “Tuesday” which I had never heard. Any fans out there know anything about it? Was it a B-side or something?)
The biggest roars from the crowd came for two of Yazoo’s (as they’reknown in the UK) most massive hits: “Situation” and “Don’t Go.” Afterfinishing “Situation,” Moyet walked over to the famously stone-facedClarke (the pair hadn’t spoken for years when they reunited recently)and hugged him, leading to a bona fide smile from Clarke. But exceptfor the occasional backup vocal, Clarke was virtually silent for thewhole show while Moyet, who seemed truly moved by the response,addressed the crowd periodically. At one point, while introducing “WalkAway from Love,” Moyet said, “Here’s a song we’ve only recently addedto the set. Haven’t we?” Clarke responded, “Yes,” and the audience wentnuts.
As would be predicted, the evening ended with Yaz’s debut single,”Only You,” which was released in 1982 and has in recent years poppedup in Napoleon Dynamite and the British version of The Office.”This song has been very kind to Vince Clarke,” Moyet deadpanned.”Bastard!” After singing her last line, she stood center stage withClarke and said, “Thank you so much for coming. We are Yazoo!” And weare all the better for it.
(Alison and Vince are headed to the U.S. next month. Go to yazooinfo.com for details.)