OMD Live at Barbican, York

OMD’s York outing gains a special guest…

Messages went along to the York leg of the 2017 tour to witness a little bit of OMD history in the making, with Julia Kneale making a one-off guest appearance to introduce the song she had penned with The Id all those years ago. It was to be the only outing for ‘Julia’s Song’ for the whole tour, so a real treat for all those present.

In a venue designed for more sedate theatrical offerings than bands, OMD stormed effortlessly through the now established 2017 tour set list before reaching song number seven and a pause in the proceedings. Time for Julia to step forward and be greeted with warm applause from the audience, many of whom she already knew through her book of memoirs and social media presence.

Engaging with the audience from the word go, Julia recounted events of almost forty years ago. “A moody art student from the Wirral wrote a very strange poem on a scrap of paper,” she said. “And another moody art student turned it into something magical.” Julia voiced her delight that, after all these years, they hadn’t just been “meaningless words”, which raised laughs from the members of the audience who recognised it as a line from the song.

Photo by Jane Davies
It was revealed that Julia would play no part in performing the song, preferring to leave it to “the professionals”, prompting Andy to point and shout out “Paul!”. Luckily for Andy, he remembered the lyrics and did not have to rely upon the front row holding them up as he had feared at the soundcheck.

Undoubtedly this had been the standout song of the evening and heart-warming to see the affection afforded Julia by the audience and band alike. Earlier on in the evening, Julia had taken time out to meet fans queuing at the venue which had been a greatly appreciated gesture and a lot of fun.

For anyone who didn’t get to see any of the 2017 British tour, there have been noticeable changes to the format and the visuals. The backdrop screens had been replaced completely by light shows akin to those at the Royal Albert Hall show in 2016, and various songs have been retired this time, such as ‘Talking Loud And Clear’ and ‘Metroland’. ‘Talking Loud and Clear’ was possibly missed the most by Andy who would often find welcome respite by sitting on the speakers to sing it.

The selections played from The Punishment Of Luxury were the obligatory singles (the title track and ‘Isotype’), plus ‘One More Time’, current single, ‘What Have We Done’ and ‘Ghost Star’, which had been the standout song at the launch party back in September.

The success story that was ‘Of All The Things We’ve Made’ at the Royal Albert Hall simply had to make a return, delighting fans and possibly confusing the ’80s nostalgia contingent in the process. It was to be the singular Dazzle Ships inclusion of the evening, coupled with a snippet of ‘Time Zones’. ‘Radio Waves’ was offered as a fan vote on a number of occasions but did not prove a popular option.

Photo by Jane Davies
The sole Pacific Age survivor was ‘(Forever) Live And Die’ and Crush was represented by ‘So In Love’ and ‘Secret’. Even if ‘So In Love’ was not your cup of tea, it was delightful to hear Martin Cooper play sax on this and ‘If You Leave’; predominantly USA set songs.

The continued presence of ‘Locomotion’ continued to delight sections of the audience who like nothing better than to dance – and, after all, something had to fly the flag for Junk Culture, with the departure of ‘Talking Loud And Clear’.

Singular offerings from first two albums were the obligatory and irreplaceable ‘Electricity’ and ‘Enola Gay’. No doubt there will be continued calls by fans to perform the first two albums in the style of the Royal Albert Hall show at a future date. Lots of food for thought as we get ready to embark on the milestone 40th anniversary in 2018.

In summing up, York was an epic night, with Andy wondering why they had never played there before in all their 39 years. The show was stolen by a charismatic Wirral woman in exile, the venue a little too hot and the evening rounded off by a member of the audience collapsing on the second row. I hasten to add it was a male fan and not a female overcome by being in such close proximity to Andy McCluskey.

The new album The Punishment Of Luxury is available to purchase now.

You can order handwritten copies of the lyrics to ‘Julia’s Song’ provided by Julia Kneale herself here. Copies of Julia’s book Moods, Memories And Other Manoeuvres are also available.

OMD are currently on a European tour. Dates as follows:
Nov 25 Erfut – Traum Hits Festival, Nov 26 Hamburg – Grosse Freoheit, Nov 28 Berlin – Huxleys, Nov 29 Leipzig – Haus Auenesse, Nov 30 Munich – Tonhalle, Dec 02 Offenback – Stadhalle, Dec 03 Dusseldorf – Mitsuibishi Electric Hall, Dec 05 Tilburg 013, Dec 06 Antwerp – De Roma, Dec 08 Lausanne – Les Docks.