The Random Thoughts of a Forty-Something. Films, Restaurants, Theatre, Concerts, World Events and (Mostly) Nice People.
Friday, December 11, 2009
OMD / Simple Minds Odyssey Belfast
No they don't look like this any more. But what do they sound like?
Well it's been over 20 years since I saw Simple Minds live and never managed to see OMD before, so this should be heaven right? Erm well the venue wasn't a great start.
The Odyssey -- I really don't like this venue. Unfavourably compared to an aircraft hangar, it has zero atmosphere and was accurately described by OMD's Andy McCluskey last night as 'the biggest refrigerator in the world.'
We got great seats -- row 10, but there's just something completely impersonal about this place. Whereas the likes of the Waterfront studio (Ultravox), the Mandela (Little Boots) and the Spring & Airbrake (Numan) have a real atmosphere, the Odyssey just lacks --- something.
OMD opened with the still perplexing 'Dazzle Ships' and Andy McCluskey literally bounded onstage looking barely half his 50 years. He did warn us about his terrible dancing, and you really couldn't argue. A stork having an epeleptic fit is the most apt description, but you had to like the guy -- he worked damned hard to get the crowd on their feet.
He largely failed but you couldn't fault the set list -- pretty much all the hits -- Messages, Electricity, Souvenir, Joan Of Arc, Maid Of Orleans, Locomotion, Sailing on the Seven Seas -- thankfully no Tesla Girls. Quiet man Paul Humphries performed a nice Forever Live & Die and Andy got totally laid back for Talking Loud & Clear, sitting on the edge of the stage and shaking hands with the front row -- 'if you're not going to stand up I'm going to sit down.' Bags of energy and an inclusion which I was personally delighted with -- 'Statues' from the 'Organisation' album. They finished off with a rousing 'Enola Gay' and I thought 'wow this is great value for money -- an hour of OMD and the main act haven't even come on yet'.
Half an hour later and on came the band -- Charlie, Mel, a young guy on bass and an exotic looking female backing singer. 'Theme For Great Cities' started and Jim arrived to segue into 'Sanctify Yourself' one of my least favourite Minds tracks.
I last saw Jim over 20 years ago so hardly surprising that he's changed a bit, but I was unprepared for the pudgy shabbily dressed guy that arrived. Dressed in a black coat and jeans, he looked like he'd just walked in off the street. Bit of a contrast to Andy and Paul it has to be said.
Setlist wise I really couldn't complain -- I'm very much a fan of early Simple minds -- after 'Sparkle In The Rain' I largely found their output disappointing, but we were treated to no less than six tracks from the sublime 'New Gold Dream' and four from the overlooked gem 'Sons & Fascination/Sister Feelings Call.' A big surprise was a great reworking of the 1979 debut single 'Life in a Day' which few in the audience recognised.
But for all the great titles, there was just something missing and I'm still not sure what. The venue seems to suck the life out of bands and despite the band being tight, Jim interacting and us having great seats, it all fell a bit flat for me.
Aside from the size of the place, the security staff were a constant distraction -- constantly marching up and down like the gestapo and hassling people for having the temerity to leave their seats and dance.
So much so that I didn't stay for the encores. As I exited the building I heard the opening bars of 'Neon Lights' and wondered if Kraftwerk would have been any better.