LIVE REVIEW: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Sage Gateshead, Wednesday 30 October 2019

OMD performing at the Sage Gateshead on their 40th anniversary tour. Pic: Mick Burgess.

It’s been quite a 40-year journey for electronic pioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, with 15 million albums sold, 12 Top 40 singles, (including a couple of era-defining songs) and a bunch of gold and platinum albums to boot.

What better reason than that for a tour to celebrate an astonishing career?

Still centred around the founding duo of vocalist/bassist Andy McCluskey and keyboardist/vocalist Paul Humphreys, alongside the long-standing Martin Cooper on keyboards and saxophone and relative newcomer Stuart Kershaw on drums, OMD thrilled the packed Sage with a career-spanning set.

OMD performing at the Sage Gateshead on their 40th anniversary tour. Pic: Mick Burgess.

It didn’t take McCluskey much effort to get the crowd up and dancing right from the off, as the hugely enthusiastic audience gave them a true northern welcome, and bobbed and bounced until the very last note had dissipated.

McCluskey was clearly overwhelmed at the reaction. Anyone expecting a sedate crowd, sitting quietly reflecting on some laidback electronic music, couldn’t have been more wrong.

OMD performing at the Sage Gateshead on their 40th anniversary tour. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Much of the crowd’s energy fed into McCluskey’s performance as he danced, clapped, waved his arms wildly and skipped across the stage, posing for photos along the way and clasping outstretched hands. 

The hits just kept on rolling throughout the night from Messages, Joan Of Arc, Tesla Girls and Souvenir, which saw Humphreys at the front of the stage on lead vocals, to the tribal drumming of Sailing The Seven Seas and the uber-classic Enola Gay, all backed by a dazzling light show and atmospheric vertical video screens.

OMD performing at the Sage Gateshead on their 40th anniversary tour. Pic: Mick Burgess.

With a show covering everything from their very first single Electricity and a rare outing for its B-side, Almost, to the bang-up-to-date Don’t Go, a new song from their all-encompassing box set, Souvenir, and the title track of their last studio album The Punishment Of Luxury, they had all bases covered, and for a 40th birthday celebration OMD delivered exactly what their fans wanted.

Mick Burgess
mickburgess1999@gmail.com