AFTER three decades together, theirs is still the perfect partnership.

Erasure duo Andy Bell and Vince Clarke celebrated their 30th anniversary last year with a series of special releases looking back on a time which has seen them pen 200 songs and sell over 25 million albums worldwide.

They're continuing the party with a brand new release, their 17th studio album World Be Gone, including the first single Love You to the Sky, which is currently ruling the airwaves. There's a series of support slots for Robbie Williams this month, including a date at St Mary's Stadium on Tuesday, before their own worldwide headline tour later in the year and into 2018.

The pair are in reflective mood in World Be Gone, which is a move away from the glitter balls of their early material or the more electronic music of recent times.

"The last two albums were more dancey type records, so for this one we wanted to do something a little bit more atmospheric," the songwriter and keyboardist Vince tells me from his home in New York.

"There is optimism within some of the songs, but some of the songs also reflect on some of the stuff going on right now.

"I live in America so I've got - or rather they've got - Trump as President. With the Brexit thing happening, there's obviously lots to write about and talk about. Andy and I share similar political views, which are reflected in some of the songs.

"We set aside plenty of time for writing - in Miami, New York and London. We get the melodies and crack the arrangements and once we're happy with those, Andy goes away and fine tunes the lyrics while I arrange the music and add some synth.

"We've been together a long, long time and there's no point in Andy sitting in the studio while I'm programming the computer and I can't be bothered to listen to the same song over and over again! We're the perfect partnership really!

"I would never have imagined that we would have been together for this amount of time or making music for this amount of time. It's kind of weird!"

One of the UK’s most enduring pop duos, the pair are still prolific despite spending much of their time on different sides of the planet.

"I live in New York and Andy spends half his time in Florida and half his time in London. He gets the best of both worlds really - the nice warmer winter and then summer in the UK."

Vince, 56, has an American wife and a son in school in the States, so UK returns are fairly rare.

"To be honest, I do get homesick," he says. "I don't come back to England as much as I would like to. I do travel back and forth when I can and I soon get back to talking 100 miles an hour and being extra sarcastic, all the things I can't really do here!"

The Robbie Williams support came about after a meeting of minds many moons ago.

"We actually met him many, many years ago when he was still in Take That. They were on the same TV show as us and were super nice guys.

"We thought it was a great opportunity for us, coming to places that we haven't played for years and playing in front of such a large amount of people. It's going to be a lot of fun.

"We know 99.9 per cent will be coming to see Robbie, so we will probably be doing a greatest hits type thing, hopefully reminding people of us and spreading the word out there. Well that's the cunning plan anyway."

Don't expect Vince to be excited about playing the homes of Saints, Man City, West Ham and Coventry on the tour though. He's not exactly a football fan.

"I watch it now and then. I watch it if it's on TV over here. but I'm certainly not an expert. Southend would be my nearest club and they're in about Division 9!"

Vince has always wanted to be a musician. On hearing Electricity by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, he made the decision that he wanted to make electronic music.

With Depeche Mode, he enjoyed a string of hit singles and a No. 1 album, Speak And Spell, before leaving the group. He then teamed up with Alison Moyet to form Yazoo. Other collaborations followed before he put an advert in Melody Maker for a singer.

He was joined by singer songwriter Andy Bell and they became Erasure, enjoying numerous hit singles including A Little Respect, Sometimes, Victim Of Love, Ship Of Fools, Blue Savannah and Who Needs Love (Like That), plus five consecutive No. 1 albums. They won the Brit Award for Best British Group in 1989.

Reflecting on three decades at the top, Vince says it's all about the fans.

"I don't really tend to look back so much, I don't look back at old songs or anything, I'm normally looking forward to the next thing.

"But the fans are a really nice bunch of people. On the last tour, we organised meet and greets and met lots and lots of people. When they tell you things like when I was 12 and I heard this and it really helped me through this situation, it's just so so nice."

Here's to the next 30 years.

BLOB Erasure support Robbie Williams on his sold out Heavy Entertainment Show tour on Tuesday.