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Music & Concerts

New guise for Andy Bell

Erasure singer tackles show tunes on ‘Torsten’ album



Andy Bell, gay news, Washington Blade
Andy Bell, gay news, Washington Blade

Andy Bell takes a creative left turn on his new solo album. (Photo courtesy Strike Force Entertainment)

Andy Bell has enjoyed a 30-year run of hits with his musical partner Vince Clarke in Erasure, the legendary duo who’ve managed to navigate the fickle world of pop music far longer than most artists can dream.

Early hits like “Sometimes” and “A Little Respect” are still beloved, and they continue to release vital new music. “Violent Flame” (2014) was their 16th album and they promoted it with a successful tour before wildly enthusiastic crowds that included two nights at the 9:30 Club in D.C. It would be easy for the dynamic vocalist to spend his down time from Erasure enjoying the fruits of his success.

But resting on his laurels doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Andy Bell. His new solo album “Torsten the Beautiful Libertine” is an ambitious collection of songs featured in the stage show of the same name, which opened this week at London’s Above the Stag Theatre (which bills itself as “The UK’s LGBT Theatre”).

Torsten first appeared as a character in a 2014 song cycle written for Bell by Barney Ashton-Bullock and Christopher Frost called “Torsten the Bareback Saint” that was performed in London and Edinburgh, and made into an album. The new show and album — also written by Ashton-Bullock and Frost — is a more fully developed exploration of a decidedly unique character. On the Above the Stag website, Torsten is described as an “age-defying, polysexual hero” who lives an abnormally long life, and has plenty of time to reflect on all of the connections — sexual and otherwise — he’s made over the years. Seeing a neverending parade of deaths unfold before him renders Torsten melancholy and unwilling to get close to anybody to protect himself from the continued pangs of loss.

If you’re expecting the electrifying dance-pop Bell is known for with Erasure and on his two prior solo albums (2005’s “Electric Blue” and 2010’s “Non-Stop”), seek elsewhere. This is musical theater, and Bell’s expressive tenor suits the medium perfectly. Erasure’s music has always been family friendly and generally upbeat, so it’s something of a shock hearing Bell singing pieces like “Blow Jobs for Cocaine” and “Ooh Baby, You’re so Queercore,”  but it works.

The songs deal with various aspects of Torsten’s experiences and they are often grandiose and richly beautiful. “Beautiful Libertine” is an early highlight, emphasizing the always-impressive vocal range that Bell continues to possess. The sardonic ballad “This Town Needs Jesus” is another standout, with Bell delivering an impassioned vocal over a piano accompaniment. He’s clearly invested in this material and gives one convincing performance after another.

Some tracks, like “Lady Domina Bizarre” and “The Slums We Loved,”  are highly orchestral, but there are unexpected left turns. “We Were Singing Along to Liza” is a poignantly nostalgic dance track that will surely inspire a bevy of remixes. “Photos of Daniel” is a hauntingly beautiful reminiscence of better days. “My Precious Ones,” which has been issued as the album’s lead single, has the most standard pop arrangement on the album. It’s a melodic guitar-based track with terrific harmonies.

As with any musical theater piece, it’s a challenge to fully realize the vision conceptualized in “Torsten The Beautiful Libertine” without seeing the show. There are so many ideas thrown at us over the span of 17 tracks that it’s hard to completely absorb it. But even as a conceptual album, “Torsten” is always entertaining and surprising, as the songs veer in unanticipated directions. Bell’s voice shines throughout, the writing is smart and unpredictable and Torsten is an interesting character that will hopefully stick around to chronicle more triumphs and tragedies and adventures.


Music & Concerts

New dance single pays tribute to Town Danceboutique

Local musicians pen ‘Town’ in honor of shuttered club



Bryce Bowyn (Photo by Clarissa Villondo)

The closing of the LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique in the summer of 2017 was heartbreaking to local musician Bryce Bowyn. He and his Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter friend Lexie Martin decided to honor its legacy in their new single, “Town.”

For Bowyn, who moved to the District about a decade ago to attend school at American University, the memories he has from Town Danceboutique are endless. And when it closed, it was a massive loss to Bowyn and many others. 

“It was such a cool space,” Bowyn said. “It was just disappointing to see a place that brought so many people together become part of the landscape again.” The building Town Danceboutique used to be housed in is now home to upscale apartments and a CVS. 

Town Danceboutique was a formative place for Bowyn and Martin, and it was Bowyn’s first experience in an open and accepting LGBTQ environment. His favorite memories at the club were always on Halloween, he said. Patrons, including Bowyn, would go all out with their costumes to look their very best. 

Bowyn and Martin met while they were both in the musical theater program at American University. Despite their years-long friendship, “Town” is the first song they have written together. They sat down over FaceTime and got to work. It was Martin’s idea to pay homage to Town Danceboutique, and the song follows the story of pre-gaming, going out, and hitting the dance floor. 

But the single also serves as a hype song for going out in any city, at any place. 

“It was important to me for the song to remain relatable and accessible,” Bowyn said. “So the whole foundation of the chorus, ‘Let’s go to town,’ can either mean Town Danceboutique, or painting the town red and having the night of your life.”

Bowyn started writing and producing his own music in 2018. He released an EP titled “A Rosy Retrospect” in 2022, and most recently released a single “A Bridge Burned Down” in June. His music is inspired by late 2000s pop and ‘80s synthpop, influenced by stars like Madonna and Charli XCX. Lexie Martin released her self-titled EP in 2019 and most recently came out with her single “SUPERPOWER” in 2021. 

Bowyn has been a lifelong pop music enthusiast. He distinctly remembers watching Britney Spears perform “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the MTV Video Music Awards when he was a kid and thinking “That was what I wanted and what I was set to do in life.”

“My heart was always with pop music,” Bowyn said. 

“Town” is available now for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

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Music & Concerts

From Monáe to Madonna, fall will rock in D.C.

Local venues hosting array of queer artists in coming months



Madonna’s delayed tour is slated to hit D.C. Dec. 18 and 19. (Screen capture via YouTube)

The D.C. area has many LGBTQ musical acts to look forward to this fall. Starting with pansexual and nonbinary actor and R&B singer Janelle Monáe, performing at the Anthem on Sept. 24-25 with ticket prices ranging from $135 to $301 on StubHub.

Janelle Monáe comes to the Anthem later this month. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Singer Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth Tour” is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 26-27. Tickets are available on StubHub starting at $324.

On Sept. 28 the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore will see lesbian pop artist SZA’s “SOS Tour” with tickets starting at $165 on Ticketmaster. 

Queer indie pop singer Ashnikko is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 29 to perform their “Weedkiller Tour.” Tickets available on StubHub range from $49 to $279.

Coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., is the All Things Go Festival. Performing are lesbian singers Tegan and Sara, alt-pop singer Lana Del Rey, pop singer Carly Rae Jepson, and more. The festival will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 with two day passes starting at $397 on SeatGeek.  

Rock band Queen will perform “The Rhapsody Tour” at the CFG Bank Arena along with Adam Lambert on Oct. 4-5. Tickets are starting at $181 on Ticketmaster. 

Pop star and trans woman Kim Petras’ “Feed the Beast World Tour” will reach the Anthem on Oct 12. Tickets range from $72 to $817 on StubHub. 

Kim Petras brings the ‘Feed the Beast World Tour’ to the Anthem in October. (Photo by Thom Kerr)

Queer pop singer Kesha is coming to the Anthem on Oct. 29 to support her new album, “Gag Order.” Tickets go from $86 to $261 on Event Ticket Center. 

Queer pop rapper Shygirl is co-headlining with bisexual singer Tinashe for the “Nymph” tour at the Anthem on Nov. 5. Tickets range from $45 to $145 on Ticketmaster.

Indie band Men I Trust is performing at Echostage on Nov. 15. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster for $30. 

Nonbinary rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s “PINK TAPE TOUR” will be at the Anthem on Nov. 21. Tickets start at $90 on StubHub. 

Doja Cat’s “The Scarlett Tour” will reach Capital One Arena on Nov. 27. Tickets start at $100 on Ticketmaster. 

Madonna will bring her highly anticipated and delayed “The Celebration Tour” to the Capital One Arena Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster starting at $110.

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Music & Concerts

Tom Goss to perform at Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend

Out singer entertains at the Sands Hotel



Tom Goss (Photo by Dusti Cunningham)

Out singer Tom Goss will perform at the Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Sands Hotel. 

He will sing his memorable songs like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bears,” as well as tracks from his new album, “Remember What It Feels Like,” where he sings about being a 42-year-old gay man still reeling from his husband’s infidelity who was recently conned by a lover with a secret life now serving time in prison. 

Tickets to Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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