OMD Live: Architecture & Morality & More (DVD)

Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark

Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2008

REVIEW BY: Kenny S. McGuane


England’s Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark (OMD) were never supposed to be a pop band.  If you ask original founding members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, they’ll tell you OMD were experimental from the get go. Looking back on their earlier work, calling OMD “experimental” seems like a fair assessment. Thing is, regardless of how experimental their synth-driven records were, it turned out they could write exceptionally catchy music.

I mean, if my only claim to fame was a track like 1985’s “If You Leave,” I could die a happy man. Sweet baby Jesus, that’s a great song.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. It’s dated ‘80s John Hughes-pop, but I dare you to try and write a catchier tune. That isn’t OMD’s only claim to fame; they had a string of hits in both England and Europe and even managed to break the impenetrable American pop charts on more than one occasion. Not bad for an experimental synth band that started out just doodling on mail-order keyboards and a four-track tape recorder. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Prior to OMD’s reunion in 2006, the band hadn’t played together since they opened for Depeche Mode at that oh-so-legendary 1988 Pasadena Rose Bowl show. OMD had gathered for a television appearance some eighteen years later and having realized how fun it was to play, just sort of decided to put things back together again.             

Glad they did. The results are marvelous.

Eagle Vision has released OMD Live: Architecture & Morality & More on both DVD and CD. Because Architecture & Morality was their most potent and meaningful artistic statement, OMD decided to tour the album once more. Although the album is rearranged (numerically, not musically) for the concert, it sounds just as good as the original record and the use of clever onstage graphics really bring the music to life. The DVD/CD features the album in its entirety (“Architecture & Morality,” “Sealand,” “The New Stone Age,” “Georgia,” “Souvenir,” etc.) and also includes other OMD catalog highlights (“If You Leave,” “So In Love,” “Enola Gay,” etc.).  The DVD also features extended interviews with the band, which provide some interesting context and perspective on OMD.

Reunion tours are rarely a good idea, especially when it’s a band that is as out-of-date and forgotten as OMD. But OMD were always sort of at the top of their game; they were as sophisticated and intellectual as synth-pop could be. For many critics, OMD were the best in their class. This evaluation shines through on the DVD. The sonic quality is incredible and McCluskey’s voice – his falsetto in particular – sounds just as good as it always did. The band is clean-cut and well-dressed; they’re not holding on to any of the ‘80s pop hairspray and makeup bullshit (that terrifying, balding, overweight, mascara-wearing goth-nightmare Robert Smith could take a few lessons from OMD on how to perpetuate your relevance with dignity).

A strong performance from a strong, well-respected band that might never get the recognition they deserve, Architecture & Morality & More does a tremendous job of upholding OMD’s legacy. Let’s hope that if and when they do a new studio record, the results do even more to preserve their legacy and nothing to blemish it. 

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Kenny S. McGuane and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle Rock Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.