Posted by: martinworster | April 24, 2018



I wasn’t sure what to expect ahead of seeing OMD at the House of Blues in Anaheim – right across the road from Disneyland no less. I had a best of OMD album which hadn’t been on CD rotation for a while and they were definitely a presence in my 80s youth. The place was sold out with an interesting crowd – not just over 45 males on a youth yearning nostalgia trip – but a real cross section of fans. There was also a significantly high proportion of Asians who were all well up for a lively Friday night out. I was a bit concerned before the gig that hearing a ‘best of’ selection could soon lose steam as nostalgia fatigue set in. Not so – I’d forgotten what a strong catalogue OMD have of very well crafted hooky pop music that endures and remains significant even today.

My friend commented that they’re kind of like the British Kraftwerk – an observation that works when considering some of their sparser earlier work. They’re definitely up there in the Brith synth pop pantheon. I’d see them more as the Led Zeppelin of synth pop with their almost unrivalled knack for creating catchy synth hooks and riffs. They also write great lyrics. You can see how they are also considered EDM pioneers and have been frequently sampled.

The crowd on the night were almost as interesting as the band. As the sea of filming mobile phones were lifted in unison to the opening chords of ‘Enola Gay’ I wondered how many of the audience knew what the song was about (the name of the air craft that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and hence an anti-war polemic). ‘If You Leave’ also got a massive response from the crowd, being as it is from the soundtrack to Pretty In Pink and I imagine a popular entry point to OMD for many of the audience. Cell phone use at concerts has reached saturation point and has been like that for quite a few years – who even goes back and looks at shaky footage post gig? It’s like a musical experience for many fans isn’t authentic unless it’s captured on a mobile phone. I was annoyed by a guy in front of me looking at Instagram and Facebook frequently throughout the gig which is kind of disrespectful to the band, and begs the question ‘why are you here?’ Jack White is on to something in banning cell phones at his gigs.

So gladly, my reservations about this being a backward looking 80s nostalgia navel gaze were largely unfounded. Well it kind of was – but with such strong and enduring songs such as this who cares? It seems like the 80s are cool again and particularly with a lot of the bands nearing retirement age and seeing as physical music sales are non-existent how else can you pump up the pension package except by touring extensively? Hence in the next few months they’re all over here. Totally 80s, Back To The 80s, Icons of the 80s, 80s Weekend and any number of phrase combinations including the word ’80s’. Culture Club, Human League, The Alarm, Thomson Twins, Midge Ure, A Flock Of Seagulls, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Howard Jones, the list goes on… Its like the last 35 years never happened.


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