Islington Academy, London - 30 September 2004

"A total joy"

For anyone who is a fan of 80s bands OMD and Propaganda, new act Onetwo featuring Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brucken are a compelling prospect. This first ever live appearance came on the back of having released their debut single online - available only from e-bay. Tonight's trendy blend of thirty and forty somethings were jostling for best position with a gaggle of industry folk (including Propaganda producer Trevor Horn) and a bank of photographers seeking to capture this significant partnership's debut.

For the most part, the decidedly partisan audience were well rewarded. All promotion of the event made it clear that Onetwo would be performing select titles from both OMD and Propaganda's extensive combined back catalogue. Indeed, the number of Onetwo songs was outnumbered by the oldies. Given that Onetwo are still in their embryonic stage and have few finished songs they can yet perform, this resulted in an evening of high nostalgia and wistful memories of the exciting early 80s UK music scene (memories of, in particular, me seeing OMD in Manchester in the mid 80s came flooding back).

[Claudia Brucken]   [Onetwo]   [Paul Humphreys]

Its difficult to fairly judge the first Onetwo material alongside songs by OMD - some of which I'd rank as the finest in the annals of electronic music. Still, for the most part they were good if not great, well-structured, with some memorable choruses, but only one or two seemed likely to even think about contending with Propaganda's or OMD's best work.

Most enjoyable, especially given the bland, characterless venue, was the sheer fun of it all. With no support act, this was wall to wall OMD and Propaganda fans hoping to hear some of their favourite songs; and the set delivered well. All the Propaganda hits were performed. P-Machinery, Duel and the classic Dr Mabuse - complete with guest vocalist (and original member) Suzanne Freytag, and that doom-laden deep male voice introduction. Of the OMD material, I was surprised by just how much mid-to-late career songs Onetwo had chosen to perform. Of course, there was the consideration of Claudia providing female vocals to songs originally written for OMD lead vocalist Andy McCluskey - those chosen worked well. This meant we got as many of the If You Leave, (Forever) Live and Die and So In Love genre as we did Electricity ("I've played this at every gig - and tonight is no exception"), Souvenir, and as Paul introduced it, "How about some coded Messages?". Most unexpected, but a total joy was a beautiful rendition of Almost.

Supported by a solid live band, there was an impressively relaxed, informal atmosphere to the whole thing. Paul was beaming from ear to ear throughout - clearly loving every minute. Even when they cocked up the intro to Electricity Paul had no problem stopping, turning to the band and waving them to cease. With no hint of tension whatsoever, he looked (smiling) at the crowd below him, apologised and said he couldn't hear the (does vocal impression of synth sound) "Whoosh, whoosh, bit" at the start. Seconds later, they'd launched into one of the highlights of the evening. As one Northern fan from the audience shouted out between songs: "Paul, it sounds fooking great man!". Couldn't have put it better myself. 8/10

Rob Dyer