The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra together with OMD


22 jun 2009, 11:12

On Saturday 20 June 2009 the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) played together with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. It was the first time that OMD played a full concert with an orchestra. In 2006 the band played a few songs at the Night of the Proms concerts. Well, not the entire band, just frontmen Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys. Also this night the other band members Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes were not on stage, but I saw Cooper in the audience.

The concert last Saturday night was special: not only was OMD playing with the RLPO, but it was also the first live performance of the "Energy Suite". The "Energy Suite" is actually an installation project, created by McCluskey (sounds and music) together with Peter Saville (graphic designer) and video artist Hambi Haralambous (years ago he fronted Hambi And The Dance). Stuart Kershaw (OMD Mk2 member), helped McCluskey on the "nuclear" and "coal" parts. The project could be seen and heard at Liverpool's FACT at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. I had plans of going to the FACT, but decided not to go because of the high costs (I live in the Netherlands) for a visit to an exhibition.

The "Energy Suite" tries to capture the architecture and sounds of five electricity generating power facilities, each representing a different kind of energy production: Point of Ayr/Connah’s Quay Gas Terminal and Power Station (gas), Dinorwig Hydro-Electric Power Station (water), North Hoyle Bank Wind Turbine Farm (air), Heysham Nuclear Power Site (nuclear) and Fiddler’s Ferry Coal Fired Power Station (coal).

When I learned that the images and sounds would be presented in a concert hall, and that the music would be played by an orchestra I had to go, such an unique concert couldn't be missed. Especially as it would be recorded for a dvd release. So I arranged a ticket, flights and a hotel room and went to Liverpool last weekend. When I collected my ticket at the box office and entered the hall, I find out that I had a seat at the second row, next to the middle aisle, very close to the centre of the stage! This limited my view at the orchestra, but the view at the OMD guys was excellent, also the chance of being filmed was an exciting bonus.

Before the concert started, a short speech was held by Andy McCluskey. After that the complete Energy Suite was performed by the RLPO. The film images were projected at a big screen. It was impressive. Hearing this music for the first time and with such an orchestration, it was overwhelming. The music is very different from the music OMD produced since the mid 80's. It goes back to their roots of experimental sounds combined with strange and attractive melodies. For me, "Air" was the most beautiful part.

After an interval for coffee or other drinks, the concert continued with songs from the OMD catalogue, specially arranged for a performance with an orchestra. It was a big surprise that this part started with "Radio Prague", the opening track of "Dazzle Ships". The album track isn't a song, but the actual interval signal of the Czechoslovak Radio foreign service, including the time signal and station ID spoken in Czech. How to do that live? The orchestra played the musical piece, Paul Humphreys provided the time signal and the distorted radio noises and Andy McCluskey mumbled through an electronic megaphone to resemble the Czech words. It was entertaining, even funny, and you could feel the pressure dropping.
Other songs followed, of course some of their hits, with a very different "Enola Gay", but also some very pleasant surprises: a very emotional "All That Glitters", "La Femme Accident" and an impressive version of "The Native Daughters Of The Golden West".

Andy McCluskey sometimes needed the lyrics to sing along. Just before "Talking Loud and Clear" he told that he usually screws up the lyrics, but that it couldn't happen this time, because he had the lyrics in front of him. The problem is that the man can't stand still, so he ended up being on the corner of the stage, mumbling along, without the chance to look at the lyrics, to much amusement of the audience. After the song had finished he told that for the dvd he would dub the singing to cover up his mistakes.

The audience was at first a bit shy, but after a few songs many chairs were left and people were dancing, swaying and clapping along. The same for the members of the RLPO, at the beginning they were focussed at their playing, but later you could see the smiles on their faces and see that they were enjoying themselves as well.

It wasn't a perfect performance, but it was certainly very entertaining and enjoyable, making it a very memorable evening. I paid a lot to get there, but it was worth every penny. Now the waiting for the dvd has started. Will I be on screen?

Set list
Energy Suite
Energy Suite, part 1: Gas
Energy Suite, part 2: Water
Energy Suite, part 3: Air
Energy Suite, part 4: Nuclear
Energy Suite, part 5: Coal

Radio Prague
Joan of Arc
Maid of Orleans
All That Glitters
La Femme Accident
Talking Loud and Clear
Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme)
Walking On The Milky Way
The Native Daughters Of The Golden West
Sailing on the Seven Seas
Enola Gay

The Romance of the Telescope

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Andy McCluskey: vocals, bass guitar on "Souvenir"
Paul Humphreys: keyboards, lead vocals on "Souvenir"

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Clark Rundell: conductor
Thelma Handy: orchestra leader


  • Rissan

    Leuke recensie, zie ook uit naar de DVD en ben heel benieuwd naar de Energy Suit.

    17 jul 2009, 12:28
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