By Vlad T, Journalist-Rock At Night Detroit and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer-Rock At Night Tampa
Live Review: OMD with support by In the Valley Below-OMD’s Souvenir Tour – Celebrating 40 Years – Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, Florida – April 23, 2022
Driving to St. Petersburg recently to catch Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) in performance, I couldn’t help but think about what the group has accomplished in its 40-some years of existence.
The group, fronted by infectiously enthusiastic Andy McCluskey and melodic mastermind Paul Humphreys along with reliable stalwarts Martin Cooper and Stuart Kershaw, has topped the charts in many countries during its run. All the while, its music has demonstrated the group to be enduring semioticians of modern society and even stronger purveyors of stirring, danceable electronic pop music.
With their prolific output, McCluskey and Humphreys have continued the tradition of the boundary-stretching electronic sound and wry observations pioneered by their original inspiration, Kraftwerk’s Ralf and Florian—albeit with far greater chart success.
The band has a long-standing track record of entertaining and memorable live performances, and its show at Jannus Live demonstrated there’s no reason to expect that will abate soon.
The set at Jannus spanned stark, moody pieces (“Stanlow”, “Maid of Orleans”) to irony-flavoured electro pop (“Electricity”, “Tesla Girls”, “Locomotion”) to the lushly romantic (“So In Love”, “Sailing on the Seven Seas”). In a poignant nod apparently to its progenitors Kraftwerk, the band performed a mini set of songs at adjoining workstations (or is that “Werkstations”?) bathed in blue light at the front of the stage. For longtime fans of the masters from Düsseldorf, it was a heartening homage.
The energetic audience, presumably fans of the band since its 80s heyday, deeply connected with McCluskey and his cohorts, enthusiastically singing along with and dancing from the beginning to the end of the lengthy set. The band were both tickled to see the reaction and touched. This 40th anniversary tour for North America has been delayed several years, and it must be a relief to be able to connect with fans here again in the flesh.
Walking out of the venue, we noticed a flock of teens gathered at a street corner, manipulating their phones while preening for social media photos and boasting about influencer status and their looming nocturnal itinerary. I couldn’t help but wonder if the lyrics of OMD’s “Tesla Girls” anticipated this digital culture nearly 40 years ago.
And when we finally got to the garage and walked to our electric vehicle (one of many) silently charging, the irony of the refrains of “Electricity” brought it all home—OMD have been not only brilliant pop music practitioners, but prescient Futurists as well.
Quite an accomplishment, I would say.
In the Valley Below
As the band was saying “good night” the crowd was chanting “OMD…OMD”.
A snippet of “Enola Gay”