By Yong Shu Hoong

Who: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at Mosaic Music Festival
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
When: Last Saturday
Attendance: 1,800

Founded in 1978 by core members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (or OMD) are a band with a history and a cult following made up of those who love their synth beats, which hit the height of popularity in the early 1980s.

The band - whose main men are both 52 - are aware that the days of New Wave took place aeons ago. So, OMD aptly amended one line from their encore track, Walking On The Milky Way, to sum up the night's nostalgic mood: "In Singapore, you can recreate your youth."

Outside the Esplanade, before the British outfit's first concert in Singapore, loyalists with matching OMD T-shirts posed for group photos near the venue's entrance last Saturday.

Inside, they swayed and bopped as the band presented a set list of well-loved classics interspersed with four 2010 tracks - including New Babies; New Toys and Sister Marie Says, from History Of Modern, the band's 11th studio album (and first effort since 1996).

The band, here for the Esplanade's Mosaic Music Festival, also slipped in a few tunes that lead singer and songwriter McCluskey described as the "weird ones". Lesser-known album tracks like Statues from Organisation (1980) and Radio Waves from Dazzle Ships (1983) were given play.

Backed by drummer Malcolm Holmes and keyboardist Martin Cooper, McCluskey and Humphreys - looking distinguished in black-and-white dress shirts - were a well-oiled performing machine, thanks to their years of experience.

Still, like for Duran Duran, the issue of age could not be avoided. McCluskey would dramatically pause to catch his breath in between songs. At one point, he jokingly reminded the crowd that he is 52.

But he gamely performed high-energy dance moves whenever he took the mic on fast numbers, wildly flailing his arms when the bass guitar wasn't slung across his chest.

McCluskey was also the band's crowd rouser, shaking hands with front-row fans and impressing with his expressive resonant vocals (my, how he hit the falsettos on So In Love).

The audience clapped and danced through most of the show to familiar tunes like If You Leave (from the movie soundtrack of 1986's Pretty In Pink) and Enola Gay (1980).

Humphreys, on keyboard duty, also sang on crowd-pleasers like (Forever) Live And Die and Souvenir.

A three-song encore, including Secret (1985) and Electricity (1979), sealed the 95-minute set and helped satiate the appetite of fans, though some might gripe about the omission of Dazzle Ships single, Genetic Engineering (1983).


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