Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Royal Albert Hall, London - 9 May 2016

"They came, they played, they conquered. A privilege"

When it was announced that OMD would be performing two of their albums in such a special venue it grabbed every fan's attention. The event did not disappoint.

The first half of the show was Dazzle Ships, the 1983 album that commercially didn't have much of an impact at the time of release but artistically has proved its worth. Stuart, Paul, Andy and Martin stood, in that order left to right, dressed in black. The semaphore flags each held took us back to the visual concept of Dazzle Ships' original theme. Call it musique concrete or just experimental audio musings, Radio Prague and ABC Auto Industry filled the air with sonic wonder. As the band took up their usual positions the audience were soon on their feet whilst treated to This is HelenaGenetic Engineering and Telegraph.

[OMD - Andy McCluskey]   [OMD - Paul Humphries]   [OMD - Martin Cooper]

It would be easy to forget such accomplished pop music was on an album which didn't get the recognition it always deserved. The beautiful Of All The Things We've Made had the band once again standing at the front of the stage, a certain nod to those that influenced them. The green and white lights danced in tandem through to the end of the Dazzle Ships segment of the show. As it is a fairly short album we were treated to 4 NeuJulia's Song, which Martin Cooper performed bass on, Almost and Messages, as welcome extras.

After an interval, the Architecture and Morality half of the night began. To hear Sealand, a track who's name is synonymous with the oil refinery, fill the air with it's atmospheric beauty was a simply mesmerising experience. This is what electronic music has as an answer when criticised for being cold and lacking emotion. Andy McCluskey sings with such strength and, at times, delicacy that he grabs each and every person in the room. The haunting sounds that Paul Humphreys and Martin Cooper bring are emotional. Of course Architecture and Morality was a hugely successful album from a commercial point of view upon it's release in 1981. It has stood the test of time arguably gaining the 'classic' tag line.

[OMD - Stuart Kershaw & Andy McCluskey]   [OMD]

To hear such songs as She's LeavingSouvenirJoan of Arc and Maid of Orleans live and to think that's how they run on the same album is quite incredible. All too soon the show ends with a song which represents the birth of OMD, Electricity. A song that never seems to age, sounding as fresh as it ever did. The encore approaches with Enola Gay and the night then fittingly closes with The Romance of the Telescope.

I must mention what a great job Stuart Kershaw did as OMD's new live drummer, he had to learn so many new songs and he did so well. I can't emphasise enough what a fantastic experience this event was. I call it an event rather than just a gig because it was so special and to witness it first hand was a privilege. They came, they played, they conquered. 

Setlist: Dazzle Ships: Dazzle Ships, Parts II, III & VII, Radio Prague, ABC Auto-Industry, International, Silent Running, This Is Helena, Genetic Engineering, Telegraph, Radio Waves, Time Zones, Of All the Things We've Made, 4-Neu, Julia's Song, Almost, Messages, Architecture & Morality: Architecture & Morality, Sealand, The New Stone Age, Georgia, She's Leaving, Souvenir, Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans), The Beginning and the End, Electricity, Enola Gay Encore: History of Modern (Part I), The Romance of the Telescope

Review: Jon Russell
Photos: Aaron Law