For the second time in the past six days I have seen a concert given by a musical act that is best known for the hits made some 20 years ago, and those two shows have been among the best I have ever witnessed.
Last week was the George Michael concert at the United Center and Tonight was Yaz at the Chicago Theater. Like last week's show, the Yaz crowd was older than your typical concert crowd, but whereas the George Michael crowd was given to brief bursts of energy and cheering, though they sang along with all Mr. Michael's big hits, tonight's crowd was loud and full of energetic and showered Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet with cheers, applause, shouts and screams throughout the night. Their energy was unleashed from the very beginning of the show, which the duo, known as Yazoo across the Atlantic, started with "Nobody's Diary."
Another similarity that I found with George Michael was that I had some trepidation regarding both shows, because Michael has famously said he doesn't want to be famous, doesn't want to tour all the time, threatens to retire every couple years, but last Wednesday night in Chicago, at least, he seemed like he genuinely was happy to be there with us. Yaz has a bittersweet history, as well. Though they were only together a few years, Vince and Alison made some remarkable music, such as the seminal, timeless dance floor classics, "Situation," "Don't Go," "Didn't I Bring Your Love Down," "Only You" and "Nobody's Diary." But their breakup was not a pleasant one, and each went on to great success, Vince with Andy Bel in Erasure and Alison in her solo endeavors, and neither really looked back. Until they started talking again and decided to not only get back together for a while musically, but to tour, as well.
That tour brought them to Chicago Monday night, July 14, and it was as if not a day had gone by since the mid-80s. The stage was very stark, just Vince on one platform, Alison on another, no backup singers or musicians, just Vince with a couple keyboards and a laptop (I believe it was a Mac -- what else would it be?) and Alison, in a black pantsuit, with a microphone and a bottle of water and snifter of cognac on a stand nearby.
Alison Moyet sounded like she did on those records from 20 years ago and she looked sexy as ever. Yeah, that's right, Alison Moyet, now as then, is a big, bold, beautiful, loud and lovely lady. Making her even sexier were her frequent smiles, appreciative bows to the audience and handful of hugs and kisses she shared with Vince Clarke. And yes, we did get to hear that throaty, sexy laugh of hers made famous on "Situation."
The stage background seemed as if it was taken from 80s era video games. Other times multi-colored flashing lights made it seem as though the two were on "Top of the Pops," circa 1985.
The show lasted a little more than an hour, which was not a letdown at all, because, well, Yaz hardly has more than 70 minutes of material. The only real disappointment was that they did no songs from Moyet's solo career -- but as great as some of her solo songs are (such as "Love Resurrection," "For You Only," "All Cried Out") they don't really fit alongside the Yaz songs -- they have a different sound, and to include them may have messed with the cohesiveness of the show.
Electronic music, especially that of the 1980s, has been criticized at times by people who don't get it, who perceive it to be cold, heartless and devoid of emotion. Yaz has proved that not to be the case and Monday night, among cheers that reverberated throughout the Chicago Theater, as people held out their hands for Alison Moyet to touch as she sang and danced, as they danced in the aisles and in their seats and Alison thanked them repeatedly and sincerely, that was confirmed.