OMD performing Architecture & Morality in Brussels and Utrecht


30 mai 2007, 22h15m

Tue 22 May – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Lovers Electric in Brussels
Sun 27 May – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Lovers Electric in Utrecht

I was really looking forward to seeing OMD in the classic line-up of Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphries, Malcolm Holmes and Martin Cooper. I'm a big fan of theirs and had never seen this line-up perform live. I saw OMD only once in the Amsterdam Paradiso back in 1993. But to me that was just Andy with a backing band. The old friends decided to get together after 19 years to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Architecture & Morality. Strange, but true, it was released in 1981. The first part of the gig would feature the complete A&M album, after that a selection of their greatest hits would be played. I live in the Netherlands, close to the Belgian border and decided to visit the concerts in Brussels and Utrecht. So this will be a review of both the concerts as the set lists were identical.

The support act Lovers Electric had the honour of starting the evening. They are an Australian band and consist of David (acoustic guitar and vocals) and Eden (vocals and some keyboards). Their songs were performed almost acoustic, and on a few songs the Casio keyboard with rhythm box was used. Funny detail was the baby piano Eden played on some songs; OMD used this instrument on their Dazzle Ships album. The music was a big contrast to the music OMD would be playing later. Mainly acoustic songs with both singers singing. They were very aware that the audience didn’t came to see them, but managed to get the crowd clapping along during You got it. All in all a very pleasant opener.

After Lovers Electric left the stage, the audience was anxiously waiting when OMD would enter. And then the lights went down...

...and the title track of Architecture And Morality started, without any person on stage. At a big LED screen images of architectural designs appeared. Towards the end of the song, Martin, Malcolm and Paul entered the stage and took their places. A&M faded into Sealand. The first time drummer Malcolm Holmes hits the drums I was thinking "What an energy!". Andy entered the stage just a few moments before he needed to sing. The higher notes were a bit difficult, but he managed to get it done without too much embarrassment. The audience response is memorable, a warm welcome to the band who hadn't been together for too long.

After these two atmospherically songs, it was time for a more rock oriented one: The New Stone Age. In Utrecht a string of Andy's bass guitar broke, but he played on. Georgia followed with a new intro with Gregorian chants, the only song which was a bit altered. After that the singles: She's Leaving (only a single in the Benelux), Souvenir, Joan of Arc, and Maid Of Orleans. Souvenir features Paul as the lead singer and it was nice to see that Andy gave him all the credits by taking a place at the back of the stage. Maid Of Orleans features Andy's 'wind mill' act. A strange way of dancing, you have to see it to believe it. And then the last song of the album and of this part of the concert: The Beginning And The End. An intimate song with much emotion in it, fantastic.

Andy told that the serious stuff was done and that from now on it was just mindless pop songs. The first was Messages, one of my favourites. The band had asked fans on their website to send in envelopes, letters and postcards and used these as images at the big screen. It worked very well. Tesla Girls is not one of my favourites, but they played it well. (Forever) Live and Die, where Paul takes the lead vocals again. I think Paul is feeling much more confident nowadays to be in the spot lights. He is also capable of playing with the audience. A big difference to Andy, but very enjoyable. Strange thing was the brass intermezzo without any brass! In my opinion it would have worked better if they changed it into a synth solo for Martin or Andy. Paul looked a bit 'left alone' during this moment.

Then their Hollywood adventure: the song If You Leave written for the Pretty in Pink movie. At the screen some shots from the movie were shown. For the first time during this concert Martin played the saxophone! Then a song about Hollywood actress Louise Brooks, named after the movie Pandora's Box. Also a song about a long dead woman, like Joan Of Arc. Then a slower piece, Talking Loud And Clear. Too bad the alt sax part is played with a keyboard. But Martin makes it up with another fine sax solo in So in love. Locomotion is a crowd pleaser and then the first song of the 'Andy solo era': Sailing On the Seven Seas. It's hard to think the other guys are playing this as a backing band, they seem to enjoy it very much. Then the last song: of course they couldn't forget Enola Gay. It's strange to dance to a song about the plane that dropped the atom bomb and even stranger to see pictures of explosions at the screen, but somehow it works.

The audience is cheering, shouting, whistling and clapping for an encore and which band can resist that? So OMD enters the stage again and start with one of their latest singles Walking On The Milky Way from 1996. Then their first single Electricity, a real classic synth pop song. They ended the show with The Romance Of The Telescope, the band's favourite song and also one of my favourites. It is a bit of a cool down after such a lot of energetic songs. Perhaps they should have started the encore with this one and ended with Electricity.

So have I enjoyed myself? Yes! Yes! Yes! It was great to see them playing together and enjoying themselves. Also the audiences seamed to be enjoying themselves, so the atmosphere was warm, friendly and entertaining. Any negative things? Yes, there were. I really missed the alt sax on Talking Loud And Clear, and sometimes it was like the band was doing nothing because the sounds came from tape (or from the computer).

This is a great clip of the last piece of the concert (The Romance Of The Telescope) in Utrecht and fans meeting the band afterwards..

Set list
Architecture And Morality
The New Stone Age
She's Leaving
Joan Of Arc
Maid Of Orleans
The Beginning And The End
Tesla Girls
(Forever) Live and Die
If You Leave
Pandora's Box
Talking Loud And Clear
So In Love
Sailing On The Seven Seas
Enola Gay

Walking On The Milky Way
The Romance Of The Telescope

Andy McCluskey: Vocals, bass, keyboards
Paul Humphries: Keyboards, vocals
Malcolm Holmes: Drums and percussion
Martin Cooper: Keyboards and saxophone


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