The gig started with the duo hidden behind a curtain and just Bell’s almost-operatic voice singing Rock-A-Bye Baby. Then the curtain dropped from the stage to reveal Bell dressed in a white catsuit with huge angel wings.
Vince Clarke, the keyboard and guitar player, was impassively sporting an old-fashioned flying suit with an electric desk fan strapped to his head.
We were invited to imagine we were watching them in a wood, with huge foam trees filling the stage.
The staging and lighting were impressive, as were Bell’s costume changes. From the feather wings he stripped down to a spangly vest and tight trousers to reveal his impressive physique. Later, we were treated to the sight of his diamante Elvis-style suit slashed to the navel.
For Blue Savannah he skipped on to the stage seemingly naked, using two bright fuchsia feather fans to hide his modesty. These were whipped away to reveal a pair of gold sequined underpants, and for the encore he came on in the shortest robe imaginable.
Bell, from Peterborough, has family in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, and 30 relatives came along to cheer on his performance - and he obviously enjoyed playing up to them and the crowd for this Erasure Show date.
The band's tour has sold out across Britain, Germany and America, and even though the openly out Bell camped it up for the gay men in the crowd, it was by no means an exclusively gay audience.
Erasure have been going for 20 years as a mainstream pop duo. Clarke, the electronic wizard also behind Yazoo and Depeche Mode, now lives in America with his wife.
This year’s an important one for them. Erasure haven’t toured for some time and they’ve brought out their first album of original material, Nightbird, for the first time in four years.
Both the tour and album have been well-received, which must be a relief for Bell, particularly.
Both he and his long-term boyfriend are HIV positive and while Bell’s known this since 1998 he’s only just shared that fact with the world. He says mock-bitterly that it’s the only time Erasure have made it on to MTV News.
The news brought a new poignancy to many of his lyrics, 'I’m dying to show you what love is about,' he sung. It’s his illness which may account for his powerful body and voice. He’s had both his hips replaced but he’s never looked or sung better. He’s obviously taking a lot of care of himself.
The set itself was a crowd pleaser from start to finish. The two female backing singers, dressed as fairies then Marilyn Monroe look-a-likes, gave it their all.
Every song you ever wanted to hear and more was churned out during this sellout gig: Love To Hate You, A Little Respect, Ship Of Fools, Who Needs Love Like That, Oh L’Amour and Stop!
They played for 90 minutes and then came back on with a ten-minute encore which included their first chart hit, Sometimes, from 1986.
The only downside was how Bell interacted with the audience. This strapping man spoke constantly in a little girl’s voice.
It was meant to be a joke, but there was no punch line. When he praised Norwich City Council for planting flowers along the road towards the UEA.
"I counted more than a million," he said in his dreamy high-pitched voice. There was some embarrassed or sycophantic laughter, while others just looked puzzled.
There was no interaction from Clarke, who has made his stage name being the poker-faced straight man to Bell’s court jester act.
Strange voices aside, the gig delivered what the audience wanted: perfect pop, high-octane dance hits, ballads, high camp and a duo who have lasted the distance and are still going strong.
- Erasure played the UEA in Norwich on Friday 18 March 2005.