|Torsten The Bareback Saint|
Andy Bell — Torsten The Bareback Saint
ζ» “Jsem příliš starý do této doby” — Andy Bell
ζ» Highlights: Good Things, Aflame, Mr. Average
Birth name: Andrew Ivan Bell
Born: 25 April 1964 (age 50)
Origin: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England
Album release: July 28, 2014
Record Label: Strike Force Entertainment Ltd under licence to Cherry Red Records Ltd.
01 Freshly 0:36
02 Teacher! Teacher! 1:51
03 Free 1:50
04 Star for Life 2:01
05 Bingo Hall Baby 3:17
06 Fountain of Youth 6:57
07 World Without End 1:54
08 V For...? 1:45
09 I Don't Like 4:16
10 Mobile 3:05
11 The Boy from the Sauna 3:01
12 Weston-Super-Mare 3:06
13 (We Waited For) The Circus 2:40
14 Good Things 2:07
15 People Come, People Go 2:02
16 Don't Call Me Up 4:02
17 Tell Me the Story of Your Poverty 1:59
18 This Guy Thing Isn't Working 3:24
19 Aflame 2:12
20 Mr. Average 3:23
21 Is It Not Enough? 2:46
22 As I Prepare to Take My Life 4:28
ζ» Neil O'Brien Entertainment Ltd
ζ» Andy Bell, from pop legends Erasure, takes on ‘the most challenging role of my career so far’ as age defying, polysexual Torsten The Bareback Saint. In this one-man theatrical song-cycle, he delivers musical missives from the hotspots of the memory of a learned, semi-immortal sensualist. Consequently, it's an unnaturally elongated life. ζ» So, is Torsten alive or dead, a carnal incarnate or munificent saint? Torsten sings deeply affecting expositional songs that incrementally illuminate the extraordinarily mysterious life of a man disconcerted by his own bizarre experience of the nature of passing years.
ζ» Age category: 12+
ζ» Interview: Andy Bell of Erasure on bringing Torsten the Bareback Saint to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Erasure vocalist makes Fringe debut with a song cycle about a Dorian Gray-type character
Source: Edinburgh Festival Guide
Date: 15 July 2014
Written by: Fiona Shepherd
ζ» The clean-cut Andy Bell gets down and dirty for his Fringe debut with a song cycle about a Dorian Gray-type character. He tells Fiona Shepherd that he can’t wait to be out of his comfort zone
ζ» Andy Bell’s Twitter account declares that he is ‘loving 2014 so far’. It’s a productive time for the flamboyant singing half of Erasure, with collaborations aplenty. But he can explain all that. ‘It’s the year of the horse,’ he says. ‘I looked it up and it said “you must work this year”. You know those feast and famine periods? This is one of those work, work, work periods.’
ζ» So, he has worked with dance duo Shelter on their new album iPop, worked with his Erasure partner Vince Clarke on an album for release later this year and worked with poet, performance artist and archivist Barney Ashton on his Fringe debut, a dramatic song cycle (plus accompanying album) rakishly titled Torsten the Bareback Saint.
ζ» The eponymous hero is a Dorian Gray figure, only less malevolent and narcissistic. According to the production notes, this ageless adventurer, old in years but young(ish) in looks, finally made it out of his endless adolescence with a growth spurt in the late 80s. Now 42, he’s looking back at key events in his life to date, while lamenting the impossibility of sustaining relationships lest his unsettling secret be discovered. ‘He’s very vulnerable but he has this armour as well,’ says Bell. ‘I don’t see him as a victim at all. To me, it feels like you are reading through Torsten’s diary and each song is a certain period when he’s written down what he’s going through at that time. He seems to be a bit like Doctor Who where he can just travel wherever he wants to.’
ζ» Bell also compares him to one of the musclebound characters from the homoerotic artwork of Tom of Finland. ‘Because I’m blond and have blue eyes, maybe I fit the character a bit. He’s not necessarily gay; he’s slept with all kinds of people. I only had one girlfriend but that was enough for me to relate to in some of the songs. Quite a few sound like stories from my own life. Some of the songs are very London-ish, hanging out in saunas, stuff like that. I don’t know if I’m just weaving myself into it but that’s how it feels to me.’
ζ» Bell, who celebrated his half-century earlier this year, has also been quoted as stating that ‘I’ve never felt old, ever’ but that’s maybe taking the comparison too far. It is also tempting to compare Torsten to 2011 Fringe hit Ten Plagues, a modern operatic song cycle about the Great Plague of London, written by Mark Ravenhill and performed by Bell’s queer pop peer Marc Almond. However, the music in Torsten is a more varied mixture of European cabaret, rock opera, jazz and torch songs.
ζ» Bell has dipped into these genres for one-off projects in the past. In the early 90s, he sang the part of Montresor in The Fall of the House of Usher, a rock opera written by Peter Hammill and Judge Smith of prog rockers Van der Graaf Generator, and played the title role — for one night only — in the play The Night We Buried Judy Garland. More recently, he appeared on reality TV show Popstar to Operastar where he says he was ‘a rabbit caught in the headlights. I got that fear live on camera. But I think I’m much more ready in my own skin to do something like this.’
ζ» Nevertheless, he has described Torsten as the most challenging role of his career. ‘You feel naked. There are no bells and whistles, and it’s not your own songs. When I’m doing Erasure, I’m in my comfort zone. This is something completely different. I don’t think people are going to be offended but there’s quite a lot of swearing and visceral lyrics. It’s quite rude but I’m really enjoying it because I’ve got a clean-cut image.’
ζ» There has always been something puppyish and playful about Bell’s stage persona. He reckons his naivety even played a part in first getting him the Erasure gig when ex-Depeche Mode / Yazoo songwriter Vince Clarke held auditions for a new singer.
ζ» ‘I didn’t know how to hold the mic properly,’ he recalls. ‘I hadn’t really sung falsetto and for some reason it just sprang out of my mouth on that day. I think it took us both by surprise.’
ζ» From the start, he was completely open about his sexuality, and revealed his HIV-positive status ten years ago. His long-term partner and manager Paul Hickey, who died in 2012, was also HIV-positive. Although Bell takes a relaxed each-day-as-it-comes approach to his life and career, he doesn’t take success for granted, even after close to 30 years in a globally successful pop band. ‘When you do pop, it’s quite superficial really,’ he says. ‘After a while, the star fades and you have to get used to that. It’s not about you, it’s not about your ego, it’s about being open. I think you have to do something else to broaden your artistry.’
ζ» Which leads Bell to 12 nights at the world’s biggest arts festival. Although Erasure have played in Edinburgh numerous times over the years, Bell has never been to the Fringe, even as a punter. ‘Vince has been; he says it’s really mad, everything going on. He thinks it’s so cool that I’m doing this. I hope he’s going to come and see me. I can’t wait; I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy being in theatres, because I’m not a luvvie or a great fan of West End musicals. But I just love being in the theatre space.’ I don’t like to tell Bell that he will be performing in a university lecture hall now he has a taste for the boards.
ζ» Ashton intends to continue Torsten’s story over a couple more episodes and Bell, for his part, would like to continue in the role. ‘I said to Barney “when it comes to the movie, don’t sack me when they get Ryan Gosling to do the part because I’m too old by then”. It would be brilliant to do it when you’re 80.’ :: http://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/
ANDY BELL IS TORSTEN THE BAREBACK SAINT — IN THE MEDIA
ζ» Andy is currently doing all sorts of promotion for his upcoming one-man show, Torsten The Bareback Saint, which will play at the Edinburgh Festival (at The Assembly in George Square) from the 5th to the 16th of August.
ζ» Last week the Trinity Newspaper Group (Manchester Evening News, the Liverpool Echo, the South Wales Echo, the Newcastle Chronicle, the Teesside Gazette, the Birmingham Mail, the Coventry Telegraph and the Huddersfield Daily Examiner) interviewed Andy for their ‘Closet Confidential’ fashion feature which you can view here: (http://www.andybell.com/wp-content/uploads/AndyBell_ClosetConfidential.pdf).
ζ» Andy has also done a short interview for the Edinburgh festival publication The List, and there’s more in the pipeline including a TV interview on Channel 5′s ‘The Wright Stuff’ on Friday July 18th and pieces in Attitude, Gay Times and So So Gay to look out for.
ζ» “Connoisseurs of deluxe dance-pop, seductive electro anthems and gold-plated disco grooves — lend me your ears.
ζ» Now prepare to have them blown away by Andy Bell’s magnificent new album, Non-Stop. Because this is a lavish, lustrous, sumptuous collection of exquisite dancefloor confessionals from one of the most acclaimed and beloved singers in British pop.
ζ» Although Andy’s long-running partnership with Vince Clarke in Erasure (recipients of Best British Group at The Brit Awards) remains very much a going concern — since the release of 1986′s debut, Wonderland the duo have gone on to sell over 20 million albums, 5 of them hitting #1 and had 17 Top 10 UK singles — the singer’s second solo album provides a liberating platform for his more clubby, nocturnal, disco-glam side. He has even purposely changed his vocal register and style for much of Non-Stop, putting clear blue water between his soulfully electronic solo voice and his gleaming, poppy Erasure work.
ζ» “I just needed to have a breather and see what else is going on,” Andy explains. “Spread my wings, live my life a little. This is like a different character that people don’t know me as so much. I wouldn’t say I’m a club kid, but I do love hearing remixes and club tunes. The album is quite robotic, quite tongue in cheek, lots of synths and glamorous disco. I can’t get Madonna out of my head, and I sort of feel like: if she can do that why can’t I?”
ζ» Non-Stop was co-produced and co-written by Andy Bell and Pascal Gabriel, the Belgian-born studio all-rounder whose glittering CV of collaborations includes S’Express, Ladyhawke, New Order, Debbie Harry, Kylie and Little Boots.
ζ» Andy already knew Pascal, who had previously remixed Erasure, “We had one writing session at Pascal’s house in France, then one writing session at the Strongroom in London, and we just clicked,” Andy recalls. “He is Cancerian as well, the same as Vince. Their characteristics are quite similar, both very thorough and hard working.”
ζ» The songs on Non-Stop are timeless, sexy and impeccably classy affairs, from the breathless robo-disco rush of Running Out to the moody, broody, sultry power ballads Subject/Object and Slow Release. Meanwhile, Say What You Want and Call On Me are both sublime synth-pop epics. “Call On Me is going to be the next single, which I’m really pleased about,” Andy says “It’s a really simple song, and the backing vocal riff was inspired by Diana Ross singing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. It’s really about my friends in New York, they’re from the East Village. When I see them we just go and hang out in some of the more grimy bars.”
ζ» The sound of Non-Stop reflects Andy’s infatuation with classic 1980′s dance-pop and post-punk icons like Ladytron, M and Claudia Bruken. Most of the album consists of celebratory, life-affirming lyrics, but there are moments of doubt and darkness here too. The shrill, spiky, gnarly electronica of Touch is Andy’s angry reaction to the demeaning C-list celebrity freakshow of reality television.
ζ» “Touch is probably the most punk-ish thing I’ve written,” Andy says. “It is just about being offered reality shows all the time. It’s almost like they’re forcing you to make a spectacle of yourself.”
ζ» The album also reveals more of Andy’s nightclubbing, bright-white-clubbing, late-night electro-trash side than anything Erasure have yet released. With its driving groove and huskily seductive vocals, former single Will You Be There was born to be a hands-in-the-air Ibiza anthem. Much like the hedonistic machine-beat throbber Non-Stop — a song, as Andy explains, all about “being fucked up on the dancefloor.”
But in terms of decadent glamour and neon-lit cool, nothing else on the album comes close to DHDQ aka Debbie Harry Drag Queen a high-camp homage to the empress of New Wave New York and her armies of imitators.
ζ» “I was on the True Colors tour with Debbie and she’s lovely,” Andy says. “She loves the drag queens as well, in New York. To me, nobody’s ever copied her because they can’t, she’s the queen of all of them.”
ζ» The one song Andy did not write on Non-Stop is the closing number, Honey If You Love Him, a pulsing nu-disco groove wedded to an agony-aunt lyric about romantic heartbreak penned by Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction fame. Alt-rock legend Farrell is a huge fan of Andy’s voice and suggested recording a duet together.
ζ» “Perry sang that song for a friend of his, a fashion designer who fell out with this guy,” Andy explains. “Perry is so cool, a lovely man, and quite camp.”
Classy and camp, soulful and sumptuous, Non-Stop is a deluxe dance-pop album from a master of the game. Prepare to have your ears kissed, your heart stirred and your mind blown.”
° 2005: Electric Blue (SANCD382) #119 UK, #12 US Top Electronic Albums
° 2010: Non-Stop #134 UK, #12 UK Dance Album Chart
° 2014: IPop with Shelter
° 2014: Torsten the Bareback Saint (CD Hardback Book)
|Torsten The Bareback Saint|