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Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark celebrating 40 years at Let’s Rock Norwich!

PUBLISHED: 15:51 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:36 25 May 2018

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Photo: Courtesy of UK Live

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Photo: Courtesy of UK Live

Archant

The pioneering electronic duo behind hits including Enola Gay will take to the stage of the retro music festival 40 years since being formed by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Photo: White Noise RecordsOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Photo: White Noise Records

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark arrive at Let’s Rock Norwich! marking something of a milestone.

It is 40 years since the synth-pop duo were formed on the Wirral in Merseyside by vocalist and bassist Andy McCluskey and keyboardist Paul Humphreys. The duo were merged just as electronic-pop as a genre was being formed.

Not that OMD set out to be such pioneers admits Andy. “We really just thought it was a hobby we would keep to ourselves,” he recalls. “This is why for three-and-a-half years we just played in Paul’s mum’s house on a Saturday.

“It was only in October 1978 that we finally went ‘oh sod it, let’s go on stage and do it our way just once’. It was a dare to go on stage at Eric’s Club in Liverpool.

Crowds enjoying Let's Rock Norwich! festival 2017 at Earlham Park. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERCrowds enjoying Let's Rock Norwich! festival 2017 at Earlham Park. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

“First we were amazed the guys who ran it let us on. Secondly we were amazed they said ‘that was really good, we’ve got some friends in Manchester who have a club called The Factory, do you want to play there, we’ll get you on’. So we said ‘oh, we’ll do two gigs then’.”

By in the early 1980s they were combining massive chart success with experimentation on albums such as Organisation, Architecture and Morality and Dazzle Ships.

Hits such as Enola Gay, Maid of Orleans and Souvenir took them on to Top of the Pops and helped shape the musical landscape of the eighties. They also enjoyed success in America where they supported fellow synth-pop act Depeche Mode.

Not that pop hits came as a happy surprise for a band that always thought of themselves as experimental.

Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey of OMD. Photo: Mark McNultyPaul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey of OMD. Photo: Mark McNulty

“To be honest. we’ve always been experimental, we always try to do something different but our musicality leads it to be palatable,” said Andy. “We’re not interested in experiments for their own sake but we do still make records that will ask a question of ourselves and the listener but also we want it to be listenable.”

Let’s Rock Norwich! Retro festival returning to city park this weekend

OMD re-united in 2007 and have been playing sold out concerts to critical and fan acclaim ever since. They have continued to make new albums too, such as History of Modern, English Electric and their most recent, Punishment of Luxury (their 13th studio album).

They arrive at Let’s Rock Norwich!, of which the Eastern Daily Press is a media partner, amid anniversary events.

“When we tour we strike a balance, we’re not daft enough to think we’re just going to go on stage and play all the new songs,” adds Andy.

“Playing live is the best buzz you can get because even if you have a successful record and it sells thousands or even millions, you never participate with the people who are listening to it. So being live, in the same place on the same day is the moment where you all get to share and that’s the best thing. We love it.”

• Let’s Rock Norwich! The Retro Festival, Earlham Park, May 26. Tickets £55-£30, under-12s free. For more information and to book tickets visit letsrocknorwich.com

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