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Album Review

With frontman Andy McCluskey's songwriting duties for anodyne girl band Atomic Kitten their only notable contribution to the music scene since the mid-'90s, Liverpudlian four-piece Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's recent respectable re-formation has reminded everyone just how instrumental they were in the success of the early U.K. synth pop scene. Recorded at the Tempodrom in November 2010, their third official live album, however, shows that unlike many of their '80s counterparts, they aren't content merely to trade on former glories, with the six performances of material from their recent new studio album, History of Modern, neatly fitting in with the nu synth revival, particularly the atmospheric gothic balladry of "Green" and the surprisingly raucous electro-punk of "New Babies: New Toys." But with 14 other more established tracks plucked from the likes of their 1979 self-titled debut ("Bunker Soldiers") right up to 1991's second-wind Sugar Tax ("Pandora's Box"), the classic lineup of McCluskey, Humphreys, Holmes, and Cooper ensures that Live in Berlin is anything but a hits-free zone. Indeed, alongside a rare lead vocal from keyboardist Humphreys on their joint biggest U.K. single, "Souvenir," there's a buoyant rendition of "Sailing on the Seven Seas," which proves that their later forays into poppier territory weren't without merit, a strident take on signature tune "Enola Gay," and faithful performances of early releases "Messages" and "Joan of Arc," which highlight just how ahead of their time their melancholic — if slightly po-faced — synth pop sound was. A convincing full-fledged return to the European stage, Live in Berlin is the sound of a band determined finally to receive the credit that is perhaps long overdue. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1978 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Featuring the core members Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey, the Liverpudlian synth pop group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark formed in the late '70s. Humphreys and McCluskey began performing together in school, playing in the bands VCL XI, Hitlerz Underpantz, and the Id. After the Id split in 1978, McCluskey was with Dalek I Love You for a brief time. Once he left Dalek, he joined with Humphreys and Paul Collister to form Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The group released its first single,...
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Live in Berlin, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark
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