Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark are currently halfway through their current 17 date UK tour that culminates in two hometown shows at Liverpool’s Empire and Olympia venues. Given that 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of their third album, Architecture & Morality, it seems natural that the tour is promoted as such with the album being played in its entirety.
A glance at the setlist shows that they open the show with the album leaving the remainder of their 1 hour 45 minute set as a romp through OMD’s greatest hits. The running has been changed slightly to allow for a more dynamic flow. ‘Architecture & Morality’ itself is played as an intro tape with the band taking up their positions for ‘Sealand’ which proves to be a sparse and atmospheric opener with the band backlit and largely bathed in dry ice and blue light. The pace then changes for ‘Georgia’, and as frontman Andy McClusky straps on a guitar for ‘The New Stone Age’ and darts across the stage things really start to liven up. It’s not long before the crowd are out of their seats and dancing along.
Naturally we don’t need to wait until the big guns are out; ‘Souvenir’ and ‘Joan Of Arc’ really don’t give anyone an excuse to not be singing, clapping or jumping along. McClusky offers up an apology for his dancing “It doesn’t get any better, but at least it keeps me fit” he quips.
The three giant screens offer up imagery to accompany each song and whether it’s specific to the song, or generic digital imagery, along with the smaller screens and lighting it creates an impressive effect. The Architecture and Morality section closes out neatly with all four members moving to the front of the stage with drummer Stuart Kershaw swapping to guitar for ‘The Beginning And The End’ and a return to the blue back lighting.
Paul Humphreys takes centre stage to sing lead on a super rendition of ‘(Forever) Live And Die’ and shortly afterwards Martin Cooper’s outstanding sax solo on ‘So In Love With You’ rightly receives one of the best receptions of the night causing McClusky to quip to Humphreys “we should be worried, he’s getting a better reception than both of us”.
Main set closers ‘Sailing The Seven Seas’ and ‘Enola Gay’ are high points of the show enjoying fervent crowd responses, although the sight of middle aged men and women jumping up and down and clapping to a song about the atomic bomb has always felt a little peculiar. After a short interlude the band return for a three song encore including a rousing ‘Electricity’ and a brooding, atmospheric ‘The Romance Of The Telescope’.
OMD have always occupied a fairly niche spot in the musical spectrum being far more than just the electronica tag they are commonly referred to with a greater depth to their songwriting both lyrically and musically and while this may be a nostalgic romp for many, the songs themselves remain fresh and vibrant and standing the test of time much more so than many of their contemporaries output. A thoroughly enjoyable evening that not only celebrates the bands history but also the return to live music for band and fans alike.
- The New Stone Age
- She’s Leaving
- Joan of Arc
- Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)
- The Beginning and the End
- Tesla Girls
- History of Modern (Part 1)
- (Forever) Live and Die
- Don’t Go
- So in Love
- Pandora’s Box
- Sailing on the Seven Seas
- Enola Gay
19. If You Leave
21. The Romance of the Telescope