Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark had the audience at Showbox at the Market on their feet, dancing. Sure OMD’s music is danceable, but that does not mean a Seattle crowd will dance. I wasn’t sure if they would primarily play their past hits, or tempt us more into their new material. Either way I would have been happy, though my – and I think the other people in the crowd’s – only caveat was that they play “Electricity.” I could sniff a riot brewing if they hadn’t played it, the very last song of the evening. OMD got it right; they played favorites from their vast and outrageously good catalogue, plus performed ace new tunes.
OMD has shaped the sound of pop music over the last four decades, whether bands realize it or not. Aside from grunge and a few other obvious exclusions, this is the sound most bands are recalling. And I’m betting most of those bands would admit a penchant for OMD if you asked them. Synthpop? Dance music? Techno? Vocal stylings of most male singers? Bass playing? This is the influence, this is the origin. That’s because OMD’s had hits which, romantic and fun, are never out of place: “If You Leave,” “Secret,” “Joan of Arc,” “Locomotion,” “Enola Gay,” “Messages,” “Souvenir,” “Tesla Girls,” “Dreaming,” “Electricity,” “So In Love,” “Sister Marie Says” and “Talking Loud and Clear.” You say you don’t know these songs? Go listen to them. Then you’ll respond, oh yeah . . .
That they performed nearly all of these songs on Saturday evening made for an exciting and love-filled show. New material from English Electric such as “Kissing Machine” “Metroland,” and “Dresden” were brilliant, and it’s evidence this is a band we need to produce more material. The band only took a break in the 2000s; the new album has made it worth the wait.
Andy McCluskey’s and Paul Humphrey’s vocals sounded so cool, so clear. Being able to see McCluskey play that bass in a venue such as the Showbox was also a very special treat. The combination of synth and bass is something OMD does so damn well that it’s easy to take it for granted. Also watching McCluskey dance, in red light, emotively and in a twisted manner during “Joan of Arc” was spellbinding. How does he do all that with arms? By the time OMD performed “Electricity” the audience was well into its own dancing trance. Thank you OMD, you mean so much.