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Review: A-ha, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Thompson Twin's Tom Bailey play Canterbury

By John Nurden

Norwegian trio A-ha kicked off their Electric Summer 2018 world tour in Kent at Canterbury’s Spitfire cricket ground last night with a spectacular light show.

Singer Morten Harket, in brown leather jacket and ripped black jeans, Magne Furuholmen on keyboards and guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy sporting a black woolly hat were joined by a six-piece band including three girls playing violins and viola.

The three lads, who have been together since 1982, have seven more dates in the UK before flying out to Israel, Sweden, France, Germany and Lithuania.

Paul Waaktaar-Savoy of A-ha at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441323)
Paul Waaktaar-Savoy of A-ha at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441323)

Their fans from the 80s loved the performance but those who only knew the band’s first single Take On Me had a full 90 minutes to wait until the familiar opening strains sneaked out of the sound system.

Until then, there had been a little foot shuffling as the last rays of Kentish sunshine slipped behind the Colin Cowdrey Stand and a chill descended on the pitch.

There seemed little interaction with the crowd until the band’s other favourite The Sun Only Shines On TV and a lively version of The Living Daylights.

A-ha's Morten Harket at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441346)
A-ha's Morten Harket at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441346)

But the new, slightly funkier version of Take On Me was certainly worth waiting for. It was even better than the original and Morten’s vocals were spot-on.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the case with warm-up act Tom Bailey, the man behind the Thompson Twins which were actually a three-piece.

He looked the part with his smart white suit and distinguished hair and had an impressive three-girl backing group to help promote his new album Science Fiction but sometimes he struggled to hit all the right notes.

Tom Bailey of The Thompson Twins at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441344)
Tom Bailey of The Thompson Twins at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441344)

However, Doctor Doctor and Hold Me Now went down a storm and left the crowd singing on its own.

Tom, who is back on stage after a break of 27 years, stays with A-Ha for six dates before jetting off to the USA to join Culture Club on their North American tour.

Surprise hit of the night were Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark who shook the crowd by the scruff of its neck after strolling onto the stage like a Blues Brothers tribute band in black shirts and trousers and shades and then turning in a stunningly electric performance.

Andy McCluckey of OMD at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441309)
Andy McCluckey of OMD at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441309)

“We’re not gonna mess* about,” announced Merseyside bass-player Andy McCluskey (creator of Atomic Kitten) as he demonstrated his natty style of dad “windmill” dancing before adding: “I don’t think I’ve ever played a cricket pitch before, with or without pads.”

He later teased the crowd saying: “We’re gonna push our luck now and do two consecutive new songs – from 1991.”

The four-piece with fellow founding member Paul Humpreys and Martin Cooper sharing keyboards and newest recruit Stuart Kershaw on drums, ended with three minutes 42 seconds of their “oldest and fastest” song Electricity from 1979.

OMD at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441307)
OMD at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441307)

It was the sparkiest performance the Spitfire Ground has seen for a long time.

* Not McCluskey’s exact words!

A-ha's spectacular light show at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441325)
A-ha's spectacular light show at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441325)
Music fans at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441315)
Music fans at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441315)
'Pit supervisor' Matt Ullah from Right Guard Security at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441305)
'Pit supervisor' Matt Ullah from Right Guard Security at Kent Cricket's Spitfire Ground, Canterbury, on Wednesday. Picture: John Nurden (2441305)

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