MUSIC INTERVIEW: Vince Clarke, Yazoo

Live albums, like covers records, are often curious affairs; stop-gaps to please fans while artists write new material or simply contract-fillers that only diehard collectors would want.

All too rarely do they capture that spark between band and audience that sometimes makes concert-going a thrilling experience.

Reconnected Live, the new double-CD that documents electro-pop duo Yazoo's 2008 reunion, is one of those rarities. At the end of the closing track, Situation, there's a moment where Vince Clarke's synthesiser riff stops abruptly, the audience roar and an emotional Alison Moyet haltingly declares: "You..have been..magnificent."

Two years on from that tour Clarke sounds quietly pleased with the way his and Moyet's first shows together for 25 years turned out, but equally focused on the new album by Erasure, his longstanding partnership with Andy Bell.

Speaking from his home in Maine, the USA's eastern-most state, the 50-year-old explains the idea for the reunion was Moyet's.

"Alison got in touch with me a year and a half before the tour," he says. "She wanted to know if I was interested in doing something to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Yazoo. I said, 'No'. I couldn't, I was very busy doing an Erasure tour.

"At the end of that Andy mentioned to me he would like to take a couple of years off to make a solo record so it (Yazoo] fitted in and we got together and did it."

Despite his reluctance to revive a band that spawned the hits Only You, Don't Go and Nobody's Diary, Clarke enjoyed the experience.

"It was really great," he says. "We did not part on the best of terms (after Yazoo's second album, You and Me Both, in 1983]. One of the reasons for that was we never got to know each other. We've grown up a lot since then. We have shared experiences with family and the like."

Having hardly spoken to one another in the past two decades, their early discussions on reforming were strange, says Clarke. "I think it took the period of rehearsals to get to know each other a little bit. We got to know each other a lot better over the tour. It was a very rewarding experience for me."

Importantly it gave the duo a chance to properly savour things second time around. "That's definitely true. Things were much better organised for us anyway. Alison had a zillion times more confidence than when she was first performing. The audiences seemed to really warm to her and the music."

The crowds they drew were remarkably varied. "We played places like Copehagen – that was a very young audience," says Clarke. "I was quite surprised.

"In the States we played places where we had never been together before. There were people there who had bought the original records but also young people. That was quite surprising for me."

With technology moving on so much since the 1980s, Clarke admits he was tempted to tinker with the songs but eventually decided against it.

"What happened was when I got the original multi-tracks digitised and I was looking at them on the computer what struck me was how simple the arrangements were. It made me appreciate that's what made Yazoo unique – the bare bones of the music and a brilliant voice. I decided not to mess about with it."

He remains, however, modest about Yazoo's legacy. "I did not really think about anything like that until we started meeting people on tour saying, 'That's the record I played to death when I was at college'," he says. "I never thought about stuff like that before."

In the run-up to the tour Moyet talked optimistically about writing new material with Clarke. Sadly, he says, nothing came of it. "In the end we were both so caught up in doing the tour that did not happen. But who knows for the future. Never say never."

In the meantime Clarke is pouring his energies into Erasure. Their as-yet-to-be-titled new album is written, he says. "We've demo-ed the songs. We are now talking to a number of producers." A tour is pencilled in for next year.

Fans of Depeche Mode, the Essex synth pop group that Clarke was a member of from 1979 to 1981, may also note that he has recently been kicking ideas around with Martin Gore.

"It's nothing to with Depeche Mode," he says. "It's a little project that we have got going. We've been collaborating online on some dance music.

"But it won't be out soon. It's one of those things where I will send an idea to Martin and it goes back and forth. Both of us have got our main bands to work on."

Having worked with so many fine singers over the last 30 years, 24seven is interested to know if there is anyone who Clarke still longs to share a stage or a recording studio with.

"Myself and Andy, it's like we are married, really," he reflects. "It would be a little bit like having an affair. So not really, no."

Reconnected Live is out now.

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