Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s Bristol Gig Meets Incredible Adulation On A Damp Tuesday Night

The Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark tour bus stopped in Bristol, partway through their UK tour to promote their most recent album Bauhaus Staircase, the album released last November charted at Number 2 on its first week.

OMD @ Bristol Beacon

OMD @ Bristol Beacon (Sam Holt)
OMD @ Bristol Beacon (Sam Holt)

Formed in 1978 by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, and joined by keyboardist Martin Cooper and drummer Stuart Kershaw for this tour, the Wirral-based band rose to prominence taking a different path to many bands at the time and were at the forefront of a new type of synthpop music. Indeed they were spotted by trailblazer of the genre Gary Numan, and supported him on his first solo tour in 1979. Being a fan of both acts I can only imagine what a great show they must have put on together. While music of the past sells out many venues at the moment, I can honestly say that I think both acts have improved during their career, selling out venues on a regular basis and having a great back catalogue to call upon rather than relying too much on their past hits alone.

Opening tonight are Scottish band Walt Disco, who have been described as completely different to the main act but compliment them in a fabulous way. Genre wise I found them difficult to tie down, but imagine The Associates and Roxy Music would give a rough guide. Of particular note I felt that vocalist James Potter had an incredible strong vocal style, and guitarist Lewis Carmichael got some great sounds out of his Roland Chorus. They played an interesting set and have an album The Warping coming out in a few months’ time, they are definitely one to look out for in the future.

  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon
  • Walt Disco @ Bristol Beacon

I woke this morning with an interesting ear worm…. ‘it’s my direction, it’s my proposal, it’s so hard, its leading me astray” the opening lyrics to one of the biggest selling songs of 1981, Souvenir, but it wasn’t this song that drew me in, it was the reality of Enola Gay and a reminder of the cold war of the 80’s, a very different time, a world changing in very big way, and leading the way for me was a new type of music synth pop, Numan, OMD and Ultravox, and of course Kraftwerk to name a few.

Tonight’s set started with Anthropocene that saw vocalist Andy McCluskey accompanied by pre-recorded spoken words a little reminiscence of Public Service Broadcasting style. Messages and Tesla Girls, followed to set the mood for tonight, and what a night it was.

Much of tonight’s set has understandably has come from their latest release but there was plenty of songs from their vast catalogue, of particular significance was a short section from their seminal Architecture And Morality album, that started with keyboard player Paul Humphreys taking vocal duties for Souvenir, after some playful banter about drinking vodka on stage. Andy continued for for Joan Of Arc and Maid Of Orleans, I couldn’t help but notice a little air drumming taking prominence. These three songs had met with incredible applause. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing.

As the stage went dark road crew brought extra keyboards and electronic drums for the band to the front of the stage it was almost Kraftwerk-esque, as they slowed things down a little for a couple of songs, at the end McCluskey remarked “that’s the cultural stuff over, now’s the time for mindless nonsense” as they launched straight into Don’t Go. All to soon drummer Stuart Kershaw set of the opening sequence for Enola Gay, that came complete with simulated bomb sounds as they fell, it’s quite ironic when you think at the time of this release the Cold War was very much in people’s minds, and with the world heading the way it is today its very worrying.

The crowd were standing, cheering and chanting for more, after a short break, the band headed back out to play three more songs, McCluskey commenting “I like the vibe here, and that’s you, not the new building”, The Bristol Beacon having recently undergone a huge refurbishment programme. OMD finally ended their set with a song that’s 3 minutes, 42, Electricity, it gave everyone a chance to have a last chance to dance in the stalls, by their seats and in the aisles. It had been an incredible night, the sound was superb, lighting a great and above all a fantastic performance from OMD.

On leaving the venue I couldn’t help but overhear a comment from one of the punters that summed it up perfectly for me “They were on top of their game tonight”, it was true I couldn’t argue against that they were, and the sum of parts made it an awesome night of music, it’s been hinted this is their last album they released just a few months ago, if it is, I hope not, but what a way to bow out at the top of their game.

  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon
  • OMD @ Bristol Beacon

Live review & photography of OMD at The Bristol Beacon on 19th March 2024 by Sam Holt.

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