Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark ended up becoming one of my favorite bands of all time. The song they played on URGH was “Enola Gay“, a song about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan at the end of World War II. It wasn’t anything that 12-year-old me was too concerned with, but it became an historical reference point for me later, as I learned more about the war. It was probably one of my first experiences with political commentary in song, at least one of the first that registered with me. But, again, it didn’t register with me until later.
What did register with me was that stack of keyboards that Paul Humphreys plays. I don’t know why I ended up being such an electronic music fan, but keyboards have always been a big draw for me. It was because of bands like OMD and New Order and Depeche Mode that I started taking piano lessons in high school. I wanted to learn the songs that I liked so much. I probably needed a sequencer just as much as a keyboard in order to play all of those songs, but I didn’t know that at the time. I think my subscription to Keyboard magazine taught me the details. (Just going to the site and clicking on some keyboard reviews brought a smile to my face.)
One of my favorite parts of the video now is Andy McCluskey‘s rockin’ 80’s dance, that little hips-wiggle to the beat. My friend Geoff did a fun 80’s dance that inspired me to steal Andy’s moves. I bust out the McCluskey at parties from time to time. It’s a big hit.
Where URGH! They Now?
Much to my surprise and joy, Orchestral Manoeuvres re-formed back in 2006 to play their album Architecture & Morality (link is to the live performance from 2007 on iTunes). Who ever knows why groups break up, and why they get back together. I somehow had it in my mind that OMD would *never* get back together, ever. I just didn’t expect it.
The shows they played went well enough that they played more over the next few years, and in time they started working on new material, which resulted in History of Modern, released on 100% Records in September of 2010. I absolutely loved the video for the first single “If You Want It”.
In 2011 they released Live In Berlin , and I listened to it on Spotify one night while cooking. For some reason, the new songs grabbed me more directly that night, and set alongside their older songs, I felt like I appreciated the new songs more. It was as if they were always there.
OMD recently completed two US tours in 2011 and, according to their website, have started recording for a new album, entitled English Electric. I think they’re in a good place now, and I’m glad they’re making music again. I’ve seen OMD live three times:
- Crush tour – Nov. 1985 in a big snowstorm – supporting Thompson Twins in Boulder, CO. I know I still have a program from that show, I just don’t know where.
- The Pacific Age tour – Dec. 1986 at the Paramount in Denver.
- Best Of OMD tour – May 1988 at the old McNichols arena in Denver supporting Depeche Mode – that was a dream concert for me at the time. I was really jealous of everyone (like my friend Dale!) who was at the Rose Bowl show on June 18, 1988. That show featured Wire, Thomas Dolby, OMD & Depeche Mode. I listened to live updates about the show on 91X in San Diego, where I was attending freshman orientation for SDSU. So bummed I couldn’t be at that show with 99,999 of my closest musical friends.
I hope OMD comes through Denver again. I’d love to see the new show.
UPDATE 12/26/2016: I got to interview Paul & Andy at their Red Rocks show! Check out our talk – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Rockies
Last ThURGHsday – John Cooper Clarke, “Health Fanatic”