An early morning alarm call heralded the start of a very long but extremely exciting day for the members of Electronix – we were heading across the country to Southend-on-Sea for an unforgettable day with none other than the iconic Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark! Armed with an array of items for the band to sign, we set out on our 5 hour journey filling up with fuel and numerous nibbles at the local garage. After a pleasant and uneventful journey, we arrived early in Southend which gave us a little more time to check out the venue,The Cliffs Pavilion on Station Road. From the outside it is a fairly modern, well presented venue right on the seafront with easy access from the nearby public car park. After having a quick look around the place we headed to the cafe where we enjoyed a nice cuppa with a piece of cake and took in the lovely views of the Isle Of Sheppey & Canvey Island from the panoramic windows. Well it was a nice day so with the sun glinting on the water it did make it look as lovely as it could…!
We found the guy in charge and after numerous security checks including full body scans, x-rays and a half hour interview with a uniformed official (well, maybe not all of that, but we did get asked for some form of I.D. which we duly provided…!) we were given our coveted ‘Access All Areas’ passes and other unique items for us to remember the day by. Waiting patiently with excited anticipation, the word came through that they were ready for us and so we nervously got up and headed into the vast, almost empty arena. Well I say almost empty, it was except for the million Kw PA system, numerous roadies, sound engineers and stage hands and of course the legendary members of OMD!! Our first memory of walking into the arena is of the smiling face of Paul Humphreys standing behind his keyboard whilst welcoming us in with a gentle ‘Hello’ and a wave. This was a fantastic start from what turned out to be a very warm, accommodating, attentive and humorous group of people. At this point, Paul, Martin & Stewart were on stage performing various checks on the instruments and sound levels, exchanging puzzled faces and smiles at some of the strange noises that were coming out of the speakers. Andy then appeared on stage, walked straight up to the microphone, said hello and then explained that he wouldn’t be dancing around as usual as he had damaged his knee walking down the stage stairs at the previous gig! We then proceeded to watch the full soundcheck which included numerous witty quips from all of the members, strange sounds that needed eliminating, levels to be altered and a brief but informative explanation by Andy & Chuck (the stage monitor sound guy) of the purpose & need for some of the equipment and also how Chuck can manage to operate an intricate mixing desk at the same time as playing a computer game with the main Front Of House sound engineer!! During one of the songs, the venue manager came rushing up and told the band to stop playing immediately… Nobody knew what was going on until we looked behind us and saw at the rear of the arena a small piece of wire with a bulb hanging on the end dangling out of what we found out to be a ceiling light surround.
Yes – OMD’s massive sound had literally started to bring the house down! This interruption lasted for a while with nobody being able to do anything because this major incident needed to be inspected by Health & Safety because of the very real fear that someone later that evening could be attacked by a rogue B&Q £4.99 LED downlighter… At last, after what seemed like an eternity (well at least 10 minutes) panic over as the decision was made that in fact the building wasn’t falling down after all and somebody heroically popped the light back into place meaning that the soundcheck could be completed! Phew…!!
After around an hour or so the soundcheck was deemed a success and we left the arena to go into an adjoining suite where, after a few minutes, we were joined by the band for a brief chat. Sadly, due to the extended soundcheck we couldn’t spend as much time with them as we would have wanted but at least we got to meet and speak to our heroes and got them to sign the plethora of items we had bought – which they did with great interest – especially as Sarah asked them to sign her original Syndrum (early electronic drum). This caused much excitement as Paul, Martin & Stewart were more interested in looking at the drum and seeing how it worked rather than actually signing it! Andy made the comment that this was up there as one of the strangest and rarest items they had ever signed!! In fact, because of its rarity, they were all a little unsure about scribbling on it with their Sharpie markers!! All this was happening while Barry was talking to Andy about bass stuff and also telling him all about Electronix!
Sadly, and all too quickly, our little bit of time with them had to end so we all shook hands, had a final photo taken of us all and we then made our excited way back to the cafe where we waited for the evenings performance…
With our passes, we were the very first in the queue and at 7pm the doors opened and we made our way directly to the front centre of the stage. Supporting OMD were a Dublin based electronic band called Tiny Magnetic Pets and they took to the stage at 8pm. They performed a half hour set of original numbers which, with super vocals from Paula Gilmer, were both well written and catchy. They are certainly worth a look and listen and we will most definitely be following them.
Just after 8pm OMD took to the stage. Their set lasted for 1 hour & 40 mins and was packed FULL of OMD classics as well as tracks from their latest and absolutely brilliant album ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’. We danced and sang through the whole set as did everyone else in the audience and the night ended with them playing, as Andy told us, their oldest and fastest track, ‘Electricity’. We could go on and on about how great the set was and tell you all about it in detail but the best way to find out just how fantastic they are is to go and see them yourselves!
Exhausted & dishevelled but completely happy, we both made our way back to the car, drove to the nearest garage, fuelled up and bought numerous nibbles for the journey home. After a long drive, including detours off the the M25 and thick fog, we eventually arrived home at about 6am, brushed our teeth and went to bed after having what was a truly magical and memorable day with Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark…
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, no-one to our knowledge was attacked by any unruly or mutant light fitting and the whole venue survived intact… 🙂