Concert Review: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), July 11, Danforth Music Hall


Love was all around the Danforth Music Hall Thursday night, as synthpop legends OMD played their first of two shows in Toronto for their English Electric tour. As you would expect from bands whose most popular days were in the 80’s, the crowd was a mature one and much to my amusement, they sold golf shirts as merchandise (buy here). What a great idea. We’ve probably reached a new generation of concert goers where there will be a very active concert going crowd that will most certainly age with the band. I’m not saying the previous generations didn’t do that (just look at the Stones) but I feel like there are going to be more and more people going to these shows. So let’s take a look at some new merch that the older generation might appreciate.

- Golf shirts! Show a little rock & roll as you are discussing business on the greens
– Cardigans! I actually think Vampire Weekend can make a killing selling cardigans at their shows
– Bucket Hats! Perfect for the rock and roll enthusiast who also enjoys cruise ships, but doesn’t like the sun

Anyways, the show.

The crowd was pumped and ready by the time OMD hit the stage at 9:30 (possibly helped by Diamond Rings, who was a stellar opener). Looking as spry as ever, the group quickly did the prerequisite Play Some New Songs First Before the Fans become Impatient bit, nailing two tracks from recent album English Electric. The fans seem to appreciate the new music. Messages and Tesla Girls immediately followed and dancing commenced.

For their part, OMD brought endless energy to their set. Andy McCluskey moved around endlessly and danced up a storm, an impressive feat for a man approaching his mid 50’s. At one point of the set, he seemed out of breath and admitted that he was for once, tired. McCluskey’s a real treat on stage because

a) he dances like you would dance if you were drunk
b) gives very enthusiastic high fives

Seriously, the man dishes out some strong high fives to the crowd, none of that limp wrist shit that other leads probably do. That scored big with me for some reason.

My first and second encounters with OMD happened at SXSW and I wasn’t very familiar with their material back then, but this time around, I have definitely learned a few more songs and one of the things I have noticed about OMD’s music is that they have wicked intros. Enola Gay, Maid of Orleans, Electricity..they all have just completely unique introductions that you just know instantly what songs they are and at the same time, are totally pumped about it.

As always, your favorite moments at shows like this are always the songs you know and love best and for me, it was If You Leave and Enola Gay (cliche, yes). Those songs are hallmark sing alongs. One of the things I have always believed that Brits do better then anyone else is write songs that you want to sing along to at concerts. OMD is a great example. Those songs are so simple in structure but brutally effective, much like Napolean’s war strategies (look that up).

Who would have thought that OMD would outlast Molly Ringwald, and by such a large margin? That girl had the world in the palm of her hands and somehow now she is stuck on some two bit show on the Disney Family Channel.

Nostalgia is a power tool and OMD has harnessed that power. It also helps that they sound great (Paul Humphrey’s sang Live and Die and still has a silky smooth voice). The show seem to blow by quickly and by the time they had reached the end of their set, they had played a cool 19 songs. Of course, “OMD! OMD! OMD!” chants soon followed and the group came back for three more, including their first (and fastest, according to McCluskey) song, “Electricity”. It was a fitting way to end the night, literally, as electric would be a great way to describe the crowd, most of who I have no doubt, will be raring to do it all over again on Friday.

Please Remain Seated
Tesla Girls
History of Modern (Part 1)
(Forever) Live and Die
If You Leave
Night Café
Joan of Arc
Maid of Orleans
Our System
Kissing the Machine
So In Love
Sister Marie Says
Sailing on the Seven Seas
Enola Gay

Walking on the Milky Way

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

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