Early in January I saw that OMD were finally making the leap across the pond to tour in North America in their original lineup, for the first time in 23 years. The last time they played together on US soil was at the Rose Bowl, opening up for the Depeche Mode tour that was filmed as “101.” After that, the band split with Andy McCluskey retaining the OMD name for three further albums while Paul Humphreys, Malcolm Holmes, and Martin Cooper felt that OMD was a spent force. They opted to form a new band called The Listening Pool. They made a single album under that name and then went their separate ways. By the year 2000, Andy had been spending his time playing Don Kirshner to a girlpop act of his creation, Atomic Kitten. Paul Humphreys was touring The States that year playing OMD hits with Claudia Brücken, also singing from her back catalogue. Cooper and Holmes were m.i.a. For all intents and purposes, the book was closed on OMD.
I allowed some excitement to build when it was revealed that the band were re-grouping to appear on a German TV show reviewing the biggest hits of the eighties in 2005. Their 1982 single, “Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans],” had been the top selling single that year and they got enough positive feedback to contemplate touring again. They booked seven shows that sold out quickly as they mounted a tour playing their seminal “Architecture + Morality” album of 1981 in its entirety, along with plenty of hits from their catalogue rounding out the evening. That tour eventually spread across Europe for dozens of dates and the group’s ambition widened to include a new album pencilled in for a 2007 release.
McCluskey’s wife then developed cancer and all activity stopped while she was receiving treatment for the disease. The tour was captured for a DVD and in 2007 there did come a documentary made on the band’s career and subsequent reformation. Rob Finegan’s film, “Souvenir,” was a happy occurrence of a fan who was also a film maker following his passion for the music.
Early in 2009 Liverpool’s FACT Museum hosted a commissioned multimedia installation called “The Energy Suite.” OMD provided the music; Hambi Haralambous created films and it was all designed by longtime OMD collaborator-slash-graphic designer extraordinaire Peter Saville. Obviously, their seminal track “Stanlow” was the jumping off point for this tangent nearly thirty years later, but the experience of creating abstract music with no thought as to the chartworthiness of it, was an eye opener for Andy McCluskey. The only way to hear the music was to visit the museum; at least until the Liverpool Philharmonic staged a concert of “The Energy Suite” along with a program of OMD material for a sort of Proms gone OMD event. This was also released on DVD and remains the only way of hearing “The Energy Suite” in your home. The next stop on OMD’s reformation map was the milestone of a new album.
2010 brought with it ‘History Of Modern,” OMD’s first new album in 14 years and the first by the classic lineup in 24 years. I can honestly call it the best album I’d heard in a decade. I listened to it incessantly; I couldn’t listen to anything else. My thoughts are here and here in some depth. I’d given up on the notion of the band touring the US after hearing about their combined tour with Simple Minds in 2008. I fully expected that grouping to jump the pond since it was an ideal, and commercial, pairing. When they couldn’t make it over with another of my favorite bands who had hits from the same period [and a John Hughes film to boot] I abandoned the idea of OMD ever touring here again. It was on January 10th when perusing the OMD website, that the news of the US tour surfaced. I was ecstatic. I was living this album by the reformed band that’s one of my top
ten five bands of all time.
I saw that they were playing the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. Not bad! I’m there! It’s a reasonable day’s driving and I enjoyed seeing Simple Minds there in 2002. I’d be up for another road trip, except that scrolling down further revealed an Atlanta date at The Loft! As I perused the info my pulse quickened as I saw that the band were offering VIP tickets with access to the soundcheck and a meet & greet with a goodie bag for a $150 premium. I thought about it for less than a second before telling my wife we were seeing OMD in Atlanta!
Next: the event arrives