Yaz(oo) 25th Anniversary Concert Review (Chicago)


16 Jul 2008, 16:10

Mon 14 Jul – Yazoo: Reconnected

I've been putting this review off purposely as it will be difficult for me to be completely objective for the reason that I'm a much bigger fan of Alison Moyet than of Yazoo. Don't get me wrong! I loved Yazoo's Upstairs at Eric's when it was first released, and I consider it to be one of my many favorites to this day. You and Me Both is equally good, but I never became quite as familiar with that one until recently. (They released only the 2 CDs and a single or 2 before abruptly splitting, Vince going off to form Erasure and Alison beginning her solo career.) I truly loved synth-pop (or whatever you choose to call it) throughout the early to late '80s, but I now find it somewhat dated. Yazoo is an exception, however, due to Alison's voice and Vince's genius. Still, I prefer Alison's solo material to her Yazoo stuff. So, with that in mind...

We drove to Chicago from Detroit (about a 5-hour excursion) to see the show, for which we also paid BIG BUCKS for front row seats! I haven't done such a thing in at least 20 years, so this was a special event for me. I vowed that if Alison ever toured the US again, I'd make every effort to see her. Getting Yazoo "reconnected" was good enough for me! It just happened that Chicago was their nearest stop, so off we went.

We arrived wondering if there was to be a warm-up band. We soon discovered that there was a DJ, which worked out well for me. I enjoyed his mixes and found it preferable to a band that I may or may not like. At approximately 8 sharp, he was asked to wind it up. About 15 minutes later, Vince and Alison appeared to thunderous applause. The Chicago Theatre (a beautiful place for a concert, and my first time there) was pretty much packed with fans of all sorts. Not sure if it was SOLD OUT, but it was definitely close to a full house. I don't know that they knew they were so appreciated in the US, but, if not, they oughta know now!

They started with "Nobody's Diary," a great song from the 2nd CD. The stage show was excellent with a platform for each of them. Vince's contained his very compact "band"...a laptop, a few small keyboards and a mic for his vocoding. Very high tech and very 21st century, indeed. And very sterile sounding as that was the sign of the times when Yazoo appeared in the early '80s. Alison's platform contained only a small futuristic-looking shelf (for lack of a better term) containing her setlist and beverages of choice...a snifter of cognac and a couple of bottles of water, the cognac being refilled once during the show! In sharp contrast to Vince's synthesized musical panorama, Alison's vocals were anything but "sterile-sounding." This is what sets Yazoo apart from the rest. Her voice is as soulful (and powerful!) as they come, and she's definitely still got it. She may sound even better than before, if that's possible.

Through the course of the 80-minute or so set, they ran through nearly every song off their 2 CDs (with the exception of "And On" and "Softly Over") as the LED panels behind each of them portrayed various images set to each of the tunes. This was not a spontaneous type concert as I knew it wouldn't be! It was well thought out and quite impressive. Neither of them did any material from other projects, which is as it should be. Even being a die-hard Alison fan, I don't think it would have been proper for her to step outside of Yazoo for a number, and the same for Vince. This is most likely a one-off thing (but who knows...???), so it was Yazoo all the way! (By the way, they are known in the US as Yaz due to some sort of legal reason, and as Yazoo elsewhere.)

At one point, Alison left the stage as the lights dimmed and Vince noodled around on his laptop. When she returned, she took a seat in a chair that had been pushed onto the middle of the stage and did a theatrical version of "In My Room." After a couple of other songs ("Anyone," which was brilliant as Alison's voice just let loose, and "Walk Away From Love"), Vince wheeled an old '80s-type reel-to-reel to the center of the stage playing a remixed version of "I Before E Except After C", and the two took an intermission of sorts as the audience was entertained (by both music and the LED stage set) despite their brief absence.

They returned with "State Farm" and the audience went crazier. Nearly everyone was on their feet the entire night, but the crowd just kept getting more and more excited by their excellent show (and their mere presence here in the States, I'm sure). Who would have ever expected Yazoo to "reconnect???" Not even they did! At different points in the show, Alison stepped off her stage to go give Vince a big hug. Later, Vince reciprocated. They weren't on the best of terms when they broke up to begin with, but both have stressed that all's well now that they're older and wiser!

It was made quite clear before the show began that cameras were not to be used. Being in the front row to the tune of $$$ and after traveling that far, this announcement didn't please me at all. We proceeded to sneak a few, got yelled at several times and were threatened to be "asked to leave." The security was extremely tight, but others were happily snapping away. Would I have preferred to be further back and go undetected whilst grabbing pics, or be seated in the 1st row? No question...1st row! Alison did eventually come down off her stage several times to get nearer to the crowd and to dance. At one point, I was thrilled to touch/shake both of her hands. Sounds silly, I suppose, but she's an icon to me. Front row was the way to go!

The duo went on to finish out their set as the crowd made them feel more than appreciated. Their final song before encore was "Don't Go" and that's exactly how we felt! As they thanked us and left the stage, I'd guess everyone was up and screaming for more. They came back after a few minutes and did two more numbers, "Only You" and "Situation." Then they exited after once again thanking the crowd and taking a bow together. Reconnected, indeed!

Overall, the entire show was nothing short of brilliant. The extreme enthusiasm of the Chicago crowd made it even more enjoyable for me. My personal favorite was "Winter Kills" (as it is on record as well). All in all, I loved every minute of it! I've finally gotten to see and hear one of my all-time favorite vocalists ever, and I got Vince Clarke to boot! Not a bad deal by anyone's standards, I would think. Now...I've heard a rumor or two that Alison just may continue her The Turn Tour in the States this coming Fall as she now has a 3-year visa and would like to bring it to the US. Could I be so lucky??? :-)


  • heatherc

    Nice review. I'm in the midst of one myself, but if I never get to finish it it won't really matter because I don't have too much different to add. Thanks for the heads up about the 3-year visa and possibility of a tour. With the crowd reaction and a domestic release, I was hoping Alison might consider a US tour in the near future. She has one of my favorite female voices also and to hear it live was amazing.

    16 Jul 2008, 18:40
  • quixocate

    Nice review. Take a look at caratuleo website to collect all Yazoo cd covers. Also Alison's Moyet, of course

    30 Dic 2008, 14:00
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