[ATTENDED: June 18, 2016] OMD
Sarah and I calculated that this was our fourth time seeing Barenaked Ladies (I’ve seen them at least two more times than that). What I enjoy about tehir summer tours is how they have such diverse opening acts. Two years ago it was Guster and Ben Folds. Last year it was Violent Femmes and Colin Hay and this year it is Howard Jones and Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark. I was never really a fan of Howard Jones (I didn’t know most of his songs), but I love OMD’s greatest hits (which I know isn’t saying a lot since they have about a dozen albums out, but it’s a great collection).
Because of circumstances beyond our control, we wound up missing the entirety of Howard Jones’s set. A friend who saw the concert in New York last week said that HoJo was phoning it in. But the two people n front of us at Philly said he was really good. Bummed to miss him, especially the keytar.
We arrived just as the opening notes of “Enola Gay” were playing through the crowd. Perfect timing.
As it happened, at this show, our friend Jen and her kids were also there. We went up to say hi (we saw them because the show was astonishingly empty…astonishingly! So empty in fact that when we arrived an hour after the gates opened, we were ushered to park way up in the VIP section about 20 feet from the entrance. Sweet).
We said hi as “Enola Gay” played and then on the way back to our seats, a woman flagged down Sarah. She asked her, “Are you the woman who writes the Sew Buttons blog?” And she is. This woman is a fan of her blog who lives reasonably close to us and who goes to a lot of the same places that we do, although never at the same time. And she recognized Sarah (and me) from her blog. Well, we wound up talking to her and her friend for about two songs (I appreciated that her friend was wearing a green dress, but not a real green dress, that would be cruel (a BNL lyric) before getting back to our seats to hear OMD properly.
As we were heading to our seat I commented to Sarah that Andy McCluskey’s voice sounded amazing. And it really did–exactly the same as on the records. And, more impressive was just how much energy he had. He was dancing all over the place and pogoing. At one point he said he could do this all night and I believed him.
They wound up playing 11 songs and ten of them were from the Greatest Hits (the one newish one was “History of Modern (Part 1)”). “Modern” sounded great–some cool synth sounds and a surprisingly catchy riff for a song I didn’t think I knew).
We settled down just in time for “If You Leave,” the song that Sarah was excited to hear (she said she felt very nostalgic as we all sang along). Watch the nostalgia at Instagram.
Their stage set was amusingly stark. Two large banks of synths, one on either side of the live drummer and McCluskey singing in the front. After “If You Leave” Paul Humphreys came out from behind his synth to sing lead on “(Forever) Live and Die.” I didn’t recognize this song at first but that repeating I” never know I never know I never know” was instantly familiar (and the live sax solo by Martin Cooper was pretty cool).
When they played “Maid of Orleans” he told us that he was the only one who was allowed to dance poorly to this song. And he danced a lot. (His fascinating dance is here). Then they played the familiar “So in Love.” But they concluded the set with my three favorite songs from the Hits record:
“Dreaming” (a song Sarah recognized but didn’t know was theirs) was so much fun to sing to, “Locomotion” (a song I’ve always liked) was great and then my all time favorite OMD song “Electricity”–that synth riff is just superb (watch it here).
Even though the show was all synths (McCluskey did come out playing a bass during “Electricity”), the addition of live drummer Stewart Kershaw made a huge difference. He brought so much energy to the set that it made the night even better.
I probably never would have gone to see OMD on their own, but I was really glad that they opened for BNL. It was a great set.
- Enola Gay
- Tesla Girls
- History of Modern (Part 1)
- If You Leave
- (Forever) Live and Die
- Maid of Orleans
- So in Love