Essential live recordings from the reunited synth-pop duo.
Alix Buscovic 2010-10-04
While other – and frequently lesser – 80s bands have been dancing to the tune of the reunion cash till every year virtually since they split up, synth-pop duo Alison Moyet (voice of a blues diva) and Vince Clarke (keyboards that whirr and plink), waited over a quarter of a century to share the stage again.
Reforming after so long could have been messy, patchy, embarrassing even. Especially since they’d only ever played 24 gigs together (Yazoo lasted a mere 18 months) and had gone their separate ways because of a total breakdown in communication. But then, we are talking about Clarke, Depeche Mode alumnus and half of Erasure, who turns everything he touches to platinum; and Moyet, squillion-selling solo artist with the voice that made us all go weak in the presence of its deep, raw beauty.
2008’s Reconnected tour, was, if anything, even better than the one they went on when Alison wore Siouxsie make-up and Vince still had hair. Forget resentment simmering over the speaker stacks – they now have so much chemistry they aren’t averse to the odd bit of hugging.
It’s hard to hear hugging through the magic of CD or download, but Moyet’s charisma travels well over the ether. Bantering with the audience, whose unrestrained appreciation seems to surprise her, she is excited, gleeful; she’s savouring every moment of performing. "Here’s another track we never got to play!" she cries joyfully as Mr Blue begins.
She and Clarke had already called it a day when their second album, 1983’s You and Me Both, was released. So, incredibly, some of its tracks – such as the era-defining single Nobody’s Diary, which opens this very comprehensive set – are being played live for the first time, although not on Clarke’s original equipment. He’s ditched the old synths in favour of modern digital technology, softening the tinnier elements but making a doppelgänger of every bleep and swoosh. The toy box of squiggles and whirrs does come out in an extended version of dance stomper Situation, but it’s a necessary indulgence, offsetting Moyet’s powerful, impassioned and newly untamed tones.
It was that juxtaposition that really made the band, gave their melancholic torch songs and electro ballads a warmth that other synth bands lacked, while adding soul to their camp disco and storming pop. These days, when borrowing from the 80s is practically an imperative, Yazoo are more relevant than ever. But who would have thought that a tour, recorded 25 years after they split, would make such essential listening?