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Wednesday 27 March 2024

Review: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark @ Brighton Dome Concert Hall

Forty-five years on from their debut single, Electricity - writes Beat the Clock proprietor, Stuart Avis - OMD's trail of ups and downs to their Bauhaus Staircase, as featured last night at Brighton Dome, has been a journey where the peaks render the troughs almost negligible and forgotten. 
Credit: Andy Sturmey

This was Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's seventh visit to The Dome, arguably the city's most historic venue. 

It can boast the premier live performance by Pink Floyd of their work that would eventually become Dark Side of the Moon, an album that went on to do alright for itself, while next month sees the 50th anniversary of ABBA winning the Eurovision Song Contest, a band that also went on to do alright for themselves. 

It's our Cavern Club, or perhaps, more appropriately in this case, our Eric's, but hoovered more often. 

The band's two central members, Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphries, along with Martin Cooper, who would be grossly underestimated as a mere sideman, have now clocked up more time working together, since their triumphant return in 2007, than their original flight which dropped an endless stream of hook-laden pop masterclasses throughout the 1980s.


However, this was no mere trip down memory lane. Highlights from their latest offering, Bauhaus Staircase, hold their own alongside those singles that play a nostalgic trump card. 

The immediate impression as they launch into their opener, Anthropocene, is the band are here for a good time as much as the audience. Thirty-nine dates into the tour and there are zero signs of fatigue. Nothing is (ahem) telegraphed in! 

McCluskey's crazed geography teacher dancing is still present and correct. On paper it should be ridiculous but, on stage, it's borderline hypnotic. 

One can't help wonder if he does it in the kitchen when a song he loves comes on the wireless! 

The energy never falters. Even the evening's slower offerings such as the 1981 hits, Souvenir and Maid of Orleans, create a palpable wave of rapture flowing through the sold out venue. This is pure unadulterated joy. 

Unsurprisingly the biggest reaction is received by 1980's mega-hit, Enola Gay. A song tackling the subject of the bomb dropping on Hiroshima shouldn't be so catchy and so damn danceable, it doesn't even have a chorus, but then OMD have always been the antithesis of pop stars, which is probably why they are amongst the most interesting. 

Forty-five years on and, naturally, that debut single, Electricity, closes the show bringing us full circle whilst wearing out the soles of our shoes. 

Are OMD welcome back for an eighth visit to The Dome? Oh. My. Deity. Yes!

by: Stuart Avis




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