OMD storm the Liverpool Empire – and make it a family affair

You’ve visited the red telephone box, you’ve admired the blue plaque and queued up to see the 40th anniversary exhibition.

But last night it was time to put on your dancing shoes and marvel as a pulsating Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark did what they do best – take the roof off the Liverpool Empire.

Every seat was sold out for the hometown gig of Wirral’s electro wizards –  but really there was no need for seats at all as every single fan in the theater was up on their feet from the word go.

Well, almost from the word go.

There was a respectful, almost contemplative six-and-a-half minutes of reflection as the band opened their set with the electronic elegy Stanlow, the final track on Organisation their second album released in 1980.

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Raucous and appreciative applause  – but then it was time for some heavy partying!

Wirral Globe:

Front man and co-founder Andy McCluskey – above – told the audience they would hear “Some old songs, some new songs, some weird songs – but definitely some dancey songs!”

And he was not wrong.

This was certainly a party atmosphere, and why not?

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With 25m singles and 15m album sales under their belt over 40 years, OMD have much to be in a party mood about.

But first, let us consider their support band MiG15.

Wirral Globe:

MiG15 in action last night at the Empire

This was something special as well and featured Andy’s son James on bass.

They had swagger and poise and confidence that belied the fact they had only ever done one gig before joining this tour.

Featuring a screaming Rickenbacker electric guitar – not often seen at OMD shows let’s face it – the band might have been a bit of a puzzle for the electro aficionados in the audience.

But not a bit of it.

As they ripped into their set you could feel the crowd warming to them.

At the finish, many of us in the stalls were standing to applaud.

MiG15 have a single out on Spotify – Bite the Bullet – well worth a listen as it is difficult to imagine this will be the last time you hear their name.

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OMD kicked off their 40th anniversary UK tour in October – and they’re staying on tour until February of next year.

Many of the shows are already sold-out which is testament to their astonishing resurgence and longevity.

But whereas many of their 1980’s contemporaries have been happy to rest on their laurels and endlessly regurgitate their hits, OMD have always been a lot more interesting and remain unafraid to experiment.

Even their most spaced-out sonic landscapes come with haunting melodies and a memorable synth line.

But their hits are as catchy and life-affirming as anything you’re likely to hear and tonight was no time to hide their lights under a bushel.

As the hits started piling up Andy yelled: “Let me see your hands” and the entire audience obliged – a la Queen at Live Aid.

Co-founder Paul Humphreys stepped out from behind his keyboard to sing (Forever) Live and Die and Souvenir, two achingly beautiful electronic symphonies.

Then into the mix comes their latest single, the heartbreaking pleading of Don’t Go a plangent song about a long-ago love.

The band wound-up their main set with the nailed-on classic Enola Gay before returning to “end where it all started” with their debut release Electricity.

It was a memorable and exhausting night, a stellar return for our synth-pop pioneers from “this side of the water.”

Set List:

Stanlow, Isotype, Messages, Tesla Girls, History of Modern (part 1), (Forever) Live and Die, Souvenir, Joan of Arc, Maid of Orleans, Statues, Almost, Don’t Go, So In Love, Dreaming, The Punishment of Luxury, Locomotion, Sailing On The Seven Seas, Enola Gay, encores…If You Leave , Pandora’s Box, Electricity.

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