OMD – Live Review – Leeds Arena

OMD – Live Review – Leeds Arena (2)

By Graham Clark, March 2024

When OMD released their new album Bauhaus Staircase last autumn it marked a renaissance for the band: up until then they had been resigned to mostly playing ‘80s package tours slongside their peers. But the critically acclaimed album saw them able to play larger venues that, at least since the band’s heyday, would have previously been hard to fill. For this reason, the band appear to have a rejuventated confidence and vigour as they step onto the Leeds Arena stage.

Visuals have always been an integral part of OMD – tonight is no different with the four members standing on illuminated podiums. Andy McClusky asks the Leeds audience his customary question “Are you ready to dance?” and we are off in fine style with his frenzied dad dancing at the forefront.

‘Evolution of Species’, an instrumental from the new album, might be an odd choice to open the show, with the track followed up another newbie, ‘Anthropocene’ – proving, if nothing else, that the band can still surprise. Again unpredictably the early hits flow after two songs in: ‘Messages’ demonstrate their Kraftwerk influences and ‘Tesla Girls’ their pop credentials, with the track now sounding very much of its time.

Celebrating the 45th anniversary since OMD played the legendary Futurama Festival at the Queens Hall in the city, OMD are now recognised as of the most influential synth-pop acts in history, and tonight’s gig has fans old and new revelling in their electronic musical journey.

OMD – Live Review – Leeds Arena (1)


McClusky reminds the audience that ‘If You Leave’ was featured in the 1986 film Pretty in Pink – something I had forgotten about – as images from the film are portrayed on stage. Just when things are getting a little too comfortable, keyboard player Paul Humphreys takes centre stage to perform ‘(Forever) Live and Die’ with a song that, again, could only have been written in the 1980s. Whilst not as energetic as McClusky, on stage Humphreys brings smoothness and calm to what at that point had been a more boisterous and buoyant performance.

‘Bauhaus Staircase’ provides a complete contrast and is complemented by a string of striking visuals before McClusky takes off his bass guitar to allow him to dance even further, as he leads the Leeds fans though three big hits taken from their classic album Architecture and Morality. For those present who are old enough to remember those hedonistic days at The Warehouse, it could have been 1981 all over again.

‘Souvenir’, ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)’ have the fans dancing in unison with all three tracks receiving the recognition they deserve – a similar reaction that accompanies ‘Locomotion’ and 90s hit ‘Sailing on the Seven Seas’ – the latter again showing the band’s pop sass with visuals, stage lighting and sound all coming together for a well-thought-out segment.

As ‘Electricity’ roundes off 90-minutes of pure class, their first hit brings things full circle. After tonight’s electrifying performance it appears that OMD still have plenty of pulling power.

images: Graham Clark


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