UK new wavers Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are touring the United States to celebrate their storied 40-year career, and they have built the perfect setlist for the series of anniversary performances.
The quartet knocked it out of the park with their 23-song set for two highly energetic nights at Brooklyn Steel recently. Ben Eisendrath captured the action in photos!
At Brooklyn Steel on April 29 and 30, OMD frontman Andy McCluskey and company were elated to find themselves in New York City once again, this time to play songs from throughout their career on a Souvenir Tour that was delayed due to the pandemic lockdowns. On April 30, Ben photographed Andy, OMD co-founder Paul Humphreys, synthesist Martin Cooper, and drummer Stuart Kershaw having a marvelous time making truly thoughtful and dynamic dance music!
As we discussed previously in our review of OMD in Washington, DC, the band picked some true rarities to highlight on this tour, notably “Statues” and other selections from early in their career. These USA performance rarities make this tour a thrilling one to witness live.
As great as those songs are indeed, the root of this terrific setlist may well be the always much admired and welcome pairing of “Joan of Arc” and “Maid of Orleans” — both lifted from OMD’s career-defining third album Architecture & Morality. OMD performed them back to back in the first half of the show each note.
Watch OMD perform “Joan of Arc” for Top of the Pops in 1980 via YouTube:
Andy wrote both songs, and originally wanted to give them the same name, according to OMD lore. Two songs with the same name! This subversive desire gives you a peek into the mechanics of OMD’s thought processes — a truly post-modern outlook on what constitutes a pop song. Why not simply call them both of “Joan of Arc?”
OMD performed the song ultimately titled “Joan of Arc” with the warmth inherent to the song. It was a dreamy performance of a sweeping melody and emphatic singing; the number was very upbeat and requisite dancing followed.
Immediately after “Joan of Arc,” OMD played “Maid of Orleans” as the stately epic anthem that it remains; its cracking rat-a-tat percussion thrilling the Brooklyn Steel audience. It represented the electronic designs of OMD’s sonic signature: spare and sophisticated, regal and romantic.
Watch the official music video for “Maid of Orleans” by OMD on YouTube:
Together, the two songs are part of a whole that still provides insights into Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark of today. The title of the album that contains the two songs — Architecture & Mortality — captures the “two halves of a whole.” According to Songfacts, Andy said of Architecture & Mortality in an interview: “We could see it was a great title because it was a sort of metaphor for our own music: we have the electronic structure — the architecture, the inhuman machine; and we have the morality which is the warmth and the empathy and the vocals and the humanity. The tension created by the juxtaposition is where we saw the strength of our music being derived from.”
Here are some photos of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark performing at Brooklyn Steel in New York City on April 30, 2022. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Ben Eisendrath.