Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Portsmouth Guildhall, REVIEW: 'Beaming smiles all round'

OMD were at the Portsmouth Guildhall last night.
OMD were at the Portsmouth Guildhall last night.
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There must have been something in the water in the late '70s inspiring young men to form bands with wonderfully improbable names.

There were The Teardrop Explodes, then Echo and The Bunneymen, and not to be outdone Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys became Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark. Unlike their wannabe-rockstar contemporaries like Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope, the band were an unassuming pair, but boy could they knock out a tune.

Tonight's show comes almost 40 years after they first played The Guildhall. Ticket prices are slightly higher that the £3 back then, but the crowd are equally appreciative with a sold out show.

Lead singer McCluskey looks in rude health for a 60-year-old, and unlike '90s Icons Messrs Brown and Gallagher, he has retained the quality in his rich baritone voice. 

The same can't be said for his 'dad dancing' during the opening Isotope which set the template for the rest of the night. Not that he cared. 'Just dance like there's no one there,' he suggested. A bit difficult when you have 2,000 people in front of you. Normal service is resumed when he dons his trademark bass guitar for a resounding Tesla Girls.

The tour was to support the career-spanning Souvenir anthology, compiling 40 years of hits – we were certainly in for a treat. 

The title song provided a tricky moment when a flu-ridden Humphreys was unable to sing its lead. With lyrics taped to the floor, McCuskey stepped up to the plate and delivered the song for only the third time in their illustrious career.

It wasn't just about the hits. We're informed that 1979 B-side Almost inspired Vince Clarke to form Depeche Mode, and as the night progresses it's easy to see how OMD set the trail for him.

Towards the end of the set there was a pause at the end of Dreaming, and the band sucked in the applause from the crowd, beaming smiles all round.

'Now is the time for the cake,' roared McCluskey, and we knew what was coming next as the opening keyboard signature notes of Enola Gay chimed out. It's an absolute classic from the '80s if ever there was one.

An encore of the their sublime debut single Electricity rounded off a perfect night.

Without sounding like a stuck needle on a record when I say this about all great bands I see, but how good would they be at next year's Victorious Festival? How about it boys?