By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Wilcox has developed serious chops since his mid-'80s coffeehouse days, and his spirited Cat Stevens-meets-Joni Mitchell strumming, powerful voice and comedian's sense of timing are beyond reproach. But does each song truly require a separate tuning? The between-song key adjustments were real momentum killers, though Wilcox unselfconsciously rode out these lulls with genial chit-chat. More aggravating still was his habit of summarizing the theme of each song just before launching into it — total overkill for a cat whose every lyrical utterance is clear as a bell.
While not explicitly religious, there are Christian overtones within Wilcox's 10-album discography, whether he's addressing relationships, parenting, freedom-vs.-fate, true-art-is-born-of-adversity and, of course, felix culpa — the notion that a prelapsarian world does not test one's faith and is therefore of no value — an idea lucidly expressed in "Apple a Day." I overheard someone in the men's room call him New Age, but a more accurate label would be spiritual humanist, albeit one with no patience for preachers or doctrinarians. If he does talk to God, he does it most directly when he feels "a big, big, love" while singing his son Nathan to sleep or staring out the window, savoring a warm, still night. (Andrew Lentz)
ERASURE at the Mayan, March 17
Andy Bell is the sweetest-sounding cherub in all of dance pop. Not since Bronski Beat's Jimmy Somerville has there been a melody maker whose swooning can send you into dreamland like a lullaby at your mother's bosom. More than just the male incarnation of Agnetha, Donna, Diana or any other dancing queen, the old gal's kept Erasure — poppier than Depeche Mode, lighter than Pet Shop Boys — from becoming dated Eurotrash disco, and gave a throwaway genre more credibility in the '80s than Kylie Minogue and all her la la la la's now.
Bell and partner Vince Clarke had transformed the Mayan stage into an Edwardian sitting room complete with chaise longue and gramophone. And out walks our King/Queen Bell (in black satin hoop skirt, jacket, high-button shoes and top hat) with his Gibson Girl backup singers. He twirls, he cancans, he strips down to a red corset and briefs, then twirls and cancans some more. And who is that quietly manning the controls and strumming guitar? Clarke, the debilitatingly shy Teller to Bell's Penn who can barely turn to face the crowd when called upon. Actually, for all his flamboyant charm, Bell himself seems like a timid soul, keeping the banter short and leaving lotsa time to do nearly all of Pop!: The First 20 Hits.We lock ourselves in "Chains of Love," take part in "Chorus," wave paper hearts during "Oh L'Amour," and when Bell says "Stop!" we stretch out our hands in Supremes-like fashion.
Culled from the current cover album Other People's Songs (do we really need someone else's interpretation of "Video Killed the Radio Star"?) were also versions of such classics as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "Can't Help Falling in Love" and their up-tempo take on "Solsbury Hill" that's become a surprise dance hit on radio stations. Personal favorites: "Love To Hate You," a close cousin (once removed) of "I Will Survive," and the enchanting "Blue Savannah," with Bell's swirl of ethereal harmonies that is the perfect accompaniment to sipping a mint julep. Home is where your heart is. (Siran Babayan)