An electric night in Bexhill as synth-pop pioneers OMD celebrate 40 years

Andy McCluskey on stage at the De La Warr Pavilion
Andy McCluskey on stage at the De La Warr Pavilion

Having grown up in Merseyside, I have enjoyed watching some of the area’s finest bands over the years.

But there was one band that was always on my must-see list that I never got round to.

Andy McCluskey on stage at the De La Warr Pavilion

Andy McCluskey on stage at the De La Warr Pavilion

It is hard to believe that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark started out as pioneers of electronic pop as I was just setting out on my first days at school.
And it is testament to the enduring quality of their music that they are still going strong - another band from that golden generation of 80s music which continues to thrive today.

Celebrating that impressive milestone with a UK and European tour called 'Souvenir-OMD 40 Years Tour', they stopped off at a packed-out De La Warr Pavilion last night (November 17).

Front man Andy McCluskey may be 60 but he has all the zest and energy of a 16-year-old as he bounced around the stage doing his own unique dance routines totally submerged in his music. And he encouraged the audience to do the same asking if they were ready to dance?

Fellow founder member Paul Humphreys is another accomplished singer and musician, and the pair have a strong on-stage partnership. Starting out with the atmospheric track Stanlow from 1981’s Organisation album, the band arrived on stage to huge applause.

McCluskey demonstrated his full vocal range as the band set the scene for an evening of nostaglia and excitement. McCluskey’s ageless voice remains strong and he can still comfortably hit and sustain those high notes.

The next track was the anthemic sounding Isotype from OMD’s latest album The Punishment of Luxury. Then the band launched into a string of their classic hits with Messages, Tesla Girls, Forever (Live & Die), Souvenir, Joan of Arc and Maid of Orleans.

Forever sounded as good as when it first came out in 1986 and Humphreys sang it as well live as when it was first recorded. It is a stunningly, powerful ballad which just like its title suggests, will sound great forever. And there was another treat for the audience as the band played their exciting new track Don’t Go which was well-received.

Then it was back to their hit parade as they effortlessly belted out So In Love, Dreaming, Locomotion, Sailing on the Seven Seas and Enola Gay with the brilliant The Punishment of Luxury track mixed in for good measure.

A well-earned quick break followed while the crowd clamoured for more and McCluskey didn’t keep them waiting long. An encore of If You Leave, Pandora’s Box and their very first track from 1976, Electricity, left the crowd highly charged.

McCluskey then thanked the audience repeatedly before promising to return to the delight of his adoring fans. An electric night.