TVD Live Shots:
OMD at Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 11/2

With concerts coming back full swing, choices must be made as they begin to pile on top of one another. Nearly two years of concert dates being rescheduled in a short amount of time is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have more choices than ever before from some big names across the UK; on the other, when you have a day job in tech, moonlight as a photographer, and have a family on top of that, you can’t possibly see all the ones that you want to. Trust me; I’ve tried.

Ironically, I had tickets to see Scotland’s finest rock band Biffy Clyro in London at an “intimate venue” but found myself at a tech conference in Edinburgh that evening after that show moving dates more than once. But what was first disappointment turned into an opportunity as I discovered synth-pop icons OMD would be playing that same night at the legendary Usher Hall just next door to said tech conference.

Being a massive Biffy fan and having seen them a few times since moving to London, I slowly shifted my mindset from one genre to another. OMD has always been on my list of shows to see, but sadly the stars never aligned in terms of being in the right place at the right time. What turned out to be a scheduling conflict turned out to be an epic once-in-a-lifetime evening with a legendary band.

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark returned to Edinburgh for the first time in nearly three decades to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark album Architecture & Morality. Co-founders Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass guitar) and Paul Humphreys (keyboards, vocals) have always enjoyed success. Still, you could argue that they are riding a second wave as they celebrate the early days that solidified their place in music history.

OMD blew me away. From the first to the last, it’s hard to remember an audience who was so absorbed and lost in the music. After a dramatic intro and the first thump of the drums, it felt like the sold-out crowd’s feet never stayed on the floor for more than a beat or two. It looked like a sea of superfans attending some sort of synth-pop church of feel-good low-fi dance-pop. This night age was not a factor; it was all about the music and how well it holds up forty years on, along with a reminder of how important this band is.

Architecture & Morality was, of course, played in its entirety, although not necessarily in exact order. Initially met with mixed reviews on release, this record would later become one of the most influential works of the time, with critics even going so far as calling it the “greatest album of 1981” and, more importantly, “the blueprint for synth-pop.” It would go on to sell more than four million copies and launch the classic singles “Souvenir,” “Joan of Arc,” and “Maid of Orleans.” Mind you that I was six when this record came out and didn’t discover it until moving to the UK; it still holds up incredibly well, and it was a delight to hear it from start to finish.

I counted 23 songs on the setlist, including a hitsapalooza finale with “Enola Gay,” “If You Leave,” “Electricity,” and a stellar version of “The Romance of the Telescope.” This was one hell of a show, and I highly recommend getting out to see OMD firing on all cylinders. The tour continues across the UK this month.

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