Saturday, 4 May 2013
Review of OMD at the Roundhouse in Camden, London, on May 3, 2013
Can you believe it was 30 years ago when we went to see OMD at The Hacienda in Manchester? That's a lifetime ago. A wife, two teenage kids, three houses and four English cities ago. A headful of big, grey hair ago.
Tonight we were right back there, electronic-note perfect. As the opening track on the new album points out, the future you have anticipated has been cancelled. But I like mine so far.
English Electric is the name of that album - the title saluting patriotically to Synth Britannia, the new name for the old Roland synthesiser stuff. Magnificent electronic pageantry. Tonight there was one Roland either side of a massive drum kit. Back in the day, instead of the drums, it was a reel to reel four-track tape recorder called Winston. Times have changed.
Tonight the sensational Roundhouse was full of people like us. Couples re-living what it felt like to be 17, 18, 19. How many of them knew the people they were with tonight when Enola Gay exploded like a nuclear bomb on Top Of The Pops?
We warmed up with a DJ set full of Blancmange, Heaven 17, Yazoo and The Human League. It was great. Like being dumped in a warm bath full of Vangelis.
Back in '83, OMD were supported by Howard Jones and a bald guy dancing in chains and his pirate pants. They'd just released Dazzle Ships, an album with a cover by Factory designer legend Peter Saville and a mixed bunch of songs that included Genetic Engineering, with that spell-toy robot voice, and Telegraph - words on paper, written in sand.
Tonight they framed the stage with the yellow and black diagonals of The Hacienda. And they were tremendous. Andy still dances like a teenager, untucked white shirt over black jeans. He's totally at ease as a veteran, joshing, bass-playing frontman. Paul is more like Ernie to Andy's Eric but put him front of a microphone for Souvenir and the mobile phones were up and recording every red-tied moment.
That and Maid of Orleans seemed to melt everyone to Pot Noodle.
The new stuff segues beautifully with the old. Andy: "So as this is the Capital, you'll all be very cultured. How many of you have heard of Edward Hopper? Four? That's not bad. This one is about one of his paintings. It's called Night Cafe."
Yeah, well, don't get too cocky, you Wirral boys. Just because we don't put our hands up, it don't mean we ain't heard of him.
So we bobbed to Locomotion, Forever Live and Die, Sailing on the Seven Seas - all of them filling us with electro happiness. And along came Enola Gay right at the end. We loved it. But what's left for the encore: they've played the lot.
Cue Andy: "We don't know when we'll see you again. But we end where we began aged 16."
And the opening jolts of Electricity filled us with love, joy, longing, happiness, despair, loss and love, love, love.
We made it, everyone. We made it.