17th November 2018 (632 3003 Fundraiser Event)
Tribute acts appear to be seeing something of a renaissance at the moment. There are a lot of them out there, with musicians from all over the world acknowledging the musical output and influence of the majority of artists you can probably think of.
As with acts performing their own material, however, there are both good and bad tribute bands- with many measuring their success by how accurately they can replicate the looks, the instrumental sound and the vocal ability of the act they are paying tribute to, and as a result not necessarily bringing any originality to the proceedings.
Manoeuvres, on the other hand, have produced a show that is different in some of these aspects. Made up of husband and wife duo Barry and Sarah-Leigh Walton, this obviously immediately presents a problem should they be attempting to look and sing exactly like OMD, considering the band have never had a female member. In fact the duo happily admit at the beginning of every gig that they are aware they don’t sound exactly like Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys (OMD’s founding members), and that they are doing what they are doing because they adore the band’s music- not because they want to BE the the band, so to speak.
This does not take away anything from their ability as a tribute act, however; indeed, the synth parts (all of which have are created by the duo themselves) of the songs they perform have obviously been lovingly crafted and pored over so they sound as similar to the synths on the original OMD tracks as they can. As much of the music as possible is played live (although obviously this has limitations considering they Manoeuvres are a duo), with Barry strutting his stuff at the front of the stage on bass and lead vocals, and Sarah-Leigh covering synths, drums and the occasional lead vocal.
From what we saw last night there is no doubt that Manoeuvres are one of the most entertaining tributes on the circuit at the moment too; never before have I seen a tribute act with as much energy, enthusiasm and obvious adoration for the original artist as these two, so much so that their set as a whole often equals the atmosphere of a genuine Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark gig. And if you have ever seen OMD live, you will know that is one hell of a feat to achieve.
And now we come to the little twists that Manoeuvres have added into their show that make it extra special for OMD fans, and prove just how much love and care has gone into devising this show.
For example, Manouevres’ setlist not only included the big hits that you might expect (‘Enola Gay’, ‘Locomotion’, ‘Sailing On The Seven Seas’ etc.), but also some hidden gems that OMD themselves are unlikely to ever play live again or that they haven’t played for many years. These include ‘Georgia’, ‘Motion and Heart’, ‘Telegraph’ and even ‘Red Frame/White Light’ (the latter being particularly appropriate considering this specific gig was to raise funds for the upkeep of the phone box which that song was written about!)
The duo also have their own tape recorder named ‘Arthur’ which they bring along to gigs (OMD had a similar one named ‘Winston’ in their early duo days), and Barry does his own form of McCluskey’s ‘windmill’ dancing (appropriately nicknamed ‘Barry Dancing’).
And it was all these little details, coupled with the authenticity, energy and enthusiasm behind Manouevres’ performance, as well as a truly wonderful atmosphere created by a room full of OMD fans that meant the band really went down a storm last night- and from what can be seen on their social media it is clear that this is the case whenever and wherever they perform.
So if you’re a fan of good music but not a fan of tribute bands- go and see Manoeuvres and have your opinion of the latter subject changed. They are worth it!
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For information on Manoeuvres, including upcoming gigs, you can follow the band on social media or visit the link below: