Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre. 19.11.19
My 70th gig of the year. A Tuesday night back at the Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre where we were for Squeeze last week: https://gigswithivan.home.blog/2019/11/13/squeeze-a-songbook-for-life/
OMD …it’s been a while
On 7 July 1985 I went to the GLC (Greater London Council) ‘Jobs for Change’ free gig in Battersea. OMD played and I remember seeing them play for ‘Enola Gay’ but I didn’t see their whole set, maybe 20 minutes or so. There were several stages and I think they clashed with someone on another stage, The Pogues perhaps. Other bands that day that I recall seeing were Aswad and Billy Bragg. It was a huge event which was recorded as attracting over 250,000 people, by the more conservative estimates. https://tonyhollingsworth.com/?q=content/glc-festivals-and-concerts
I didn’t buy an OMD record until 1996. That was the single ‘Walking on the Milky Way’ on CD which was an already reflective piece looking back on the early 80s success. A great uplifting pop single, but the only OMD record I have. That is a bit odd as I liked their 80s singles, and their first single in ’79, ‘Electricity’. They were Top of the Pops regulars and a pub juke box pick but never a band I was moved to go and see.
Walking on the Milky Way: https://youtu.be/LdhYzXobHEk
When I saw they were playing Bournemouth on a greatest hits tour I thought I’d go and have another look, some 34 years later. I have been playing their stuff on Spotify for years. There are all those singles. I know the material and they have a place in music history. Got to be done.
I got tickets to one side, having seen that you are allowed to stand at the side aisle, on a visit to see Deacon Blue last year. This allows me to take a few photos without being in the way. Well I needn’t have worried about that tonight.
Barely through the first song and Andy McCluskey declares that we are dancing and this lot are up on their feet.
I was amazed. I was bracing myself for more Pavilion attrition between the seated, the security and the enthusiastic dancer. McCluskey’s having none of it and not long after the arm waving and bobbing about has started with ‘Messages’ followed by ‘Tesla Girls’.
This is a greatest hits tour so lots of familiar radio favourites from the 80s. No room for my favourite ‘Walking on the Milky Way’ mind. There’s a mid-set highlight of Joan of Arc.
McCluskey paces and weaves every area of the stage – he seems to have come out of his shell a big since 1985 😎. Brilliant showman. I’m pretty staggered by this. I enjoy near enough every gig I go to and making comparisons is never that helpful but sometimes it’s worth standing back to consider the performance in terms the actual experience against one’s expectation. This performance gets a very high score on that ratio.
The other original founding OMD member Paul Humphreys gets a spell in the limelight while McCluskey takes a back seat/ keyboard.
In the mid section a few numbers were performed that underlined a bit of Kraftwerk worship, a key influence…no wonder OMD are so popular in Germany. Less arm waving and clapping at this point obviously. McCluskey is 60 so a rest would be understandable, however good he’s looking.
In the later part of the set ‘Punishment of Luxury’ was especially notable before we got to the classic ‘Enola Gay’ to finish the main part if the set. Brilliant. I’d have paid for the ticket to see that alone: really. Such a great song and I really appreciated this chance to see it live… again after 34 years.
And so to the encore. Three songs including ‘Electricity’ to round off a top gig, that really surprised me. Great escapism on a dark Tuesday night in November. …I also now have a new urge to see Kraftwerk.
Support band – MiG 15
Andy McCluskey’s son, James, was playing bass and on backing vocals in support act MiG 15. There’s a flamboyant frontman Adam Bray also in this electro-indie pop rock outfit.
We were moved sufficiently to go and see them after their set and buy their latest single, ‘Bite the Bullet’, on limited release 7″ red vinyl.