By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Live Review: OMD and Scritti Politti-Eventim Apollo, London – November 13, 2021
It felt great for Rock At Night to be back at Eventim Apollo last night to see venerable 80s synth pop bands Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and Scritti Polliti. In February 2020, we covered Beth Hart’s show not knowing the world would be in lockdown and live musical events would be forever changed.
Last night’s show had a different but familiar air of normalcy. We showed proof of vaccinations at the door but most of the concert goers were unmasked and ready to party after a long hiatus from entertainment consisting of Netflix nights. The crowd of Gen X’ers gathered toward the stage waiting for support band Scritti Politti as the seated balconies filled with those seeking more comfort.
Looking fit and ready, Welsh singer/songwriter Green Gartside of Scritti Politti approached the stage with guitar in hand, and dove into Cupid & Psyche 85, the band’s second album, which was released in June 1985. Chalk full of synth-driven hits like “Small Talk”, “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)”, and my personal favorite “The Perfect Way”, Scritti Politti brought to life music made popular during the MTV era.
Known for music with a touch of funk and blue-eyed soul, it was not surprising that Gartside paid homage to Atlanta rapper Bankroll Fresh and the hiphop genre with “Trentavious White” and “Boom Boom Bap.” Whilst watching the performance, I couldn’t help but do some fancy footwork and groove as the music was infectious and sounded fresh even today.
After a quick equipment change on stage, the stage was darkened and smoke-filled as the synth-driven and pioneering song “Architecture & Morality” signaled OMD was about to hit the stage. A single light shone on Paul Humphreys as he sang “Sealand”. Andy McCluskey performed his familiar arm clutching, almost ballet-like dance moves, before breaking into frenetic dancing with “Georgia”. Throughout the concert, McCluskey pranced while playing an electric guitar, breaking away at times to dance à la Ian Curtis, reminding us the band emerged during a similar period as Joy Division. Actually, Architecture & Morality was released 40 years ago—and the band performed at Hammersmith Odeon (the venue’s prior name) on November 19th and 20th, 1981.
By this time, the floor was standing room only, and the crowd was dancing, clapping along with the songs, and fist-raising. OMD totally had the venue rocking and taking names. Going through the album Architecture & Morality, highlights were “Souvenir”, the ‘almost-released single’ “She’s Leaving”, “Joan of Arc”, and “Joan of Arc (Maid of New Orleans)”. Crowd favorites included “Enola Gay” as well as the song “If You Leave”, made famous in the 1986 film Pretty in Pink.
With this being my first time seeing OMD in concert, I was blown away by the vitality of McCluskey and the band. Without losing a beat, Paul Humphreys (keys), Martin Cooper (keys), and Stewart Kershaw (drums) proved why the band’s music is timeless after 40-plus years and still filling concert halls today.
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