OMD @ Raleigh – Red Hat Amphitheater 7-3-16

OMD hit the "Shed Circuit" as the guests of Barenaked Ladies - strange bedfellows indeed.

OMD hit the “Shed Circuit” as the guests of Barenaked Ladies – strange bedfellows indeed.

I knew from the onset that this was going to be a weird one, but when a favorite band… a core collection, favorite band, were appearing just a few hours away, I thought it was crazy not to go. Besides, my history with OMD was largely as an opening act! Living in the US southeast, OMD tours, back in the 80s were few and far between. I’ve only ever seen a single tour where they headlined. And that was five years ago. It was time to once again see the band who fill a large swath in my Record Cell.

BNL 2016 summertourThe lineup was weird. The headliners were Barenaked Ladies, a band I’d never cared for but have at least been aware of since day one. They were just making a name for themselves in Canada back in 1992, during my first visits there. They were apparently in a synthpop mood, since they picked OMD and Howard Jones to be their opening acts. I was not excited about Jones, but I can take a song or two of his [provided it’s the right one], so the idea was to get there for Jones’ set. Provide him with some polite support as the grounds filled up because it’s sad to see an opener play to a sparsely filling-up venue, then see OMD and maybe split. That’s not how it panned out, exactly. I was in Raleigh with the friends that I had seen OMD with in 2011 and we were tooling around the city, looking for places to eat. We had wanted to get a sandwich at The Remedy Diner before the show and dine at Sitti [Lebanese] afterward. Sitti closed at 10:00 P.M. Since both restaurants were in walking distance from the venue, it seemed possible, but by the time we got out of the Remedy Diner, it was just past showtime of 6:30.

We walked about a half mile to the Red Hat Amphitheater and could hear the strains of “New Song” on the slight winds which were our friends. I’m not used to seeing outdoor shows at “sheds” as the industry nomenclature calls them. Slabs of concrete with seats for you and a stage to protect the band should there be rain. Show happens rain or shine. As this was in the North Carolina Piedmont, it could be blazingly hot, but that day we lucked out. There was a 30% thunderstorm warning, but the hazy clouds were enough to block the sun while not actually raining. There was even a breeze, so we were happy.

Until we entered the venue and heard Jones playing. It seemed really loud, and I had regretted not bringing earplugs, but I figured the noise ordinances would prevent it from being too loud. We got there at the end of a Jones hit I can’t remember, but the sight of Jones onstage with a drummer/synth player; jumping around on the stage in white jeans was disconcerting. Then things got worse. We actually saw Jones check his wristwatch during the song! I realize that bands playing an inner-city venue need to mind their schedules because curfew will come sooner than you know it, but it just looked poor. Couldn’t a roadie flash a penlight or something to let them know it was five minutes left?

Then Jones went into what would be his last song that night. “Things Can Only Get Better,” one of his big US hit singles. Not a fave, but better than some I could name… until he raved the song up into faux EDM space for the climax to his set. My friend Tom put it snarkily: “…too bad I forgot my Ecstasy!” A sad moment in Howard Jones-land. The guy was never the sharpest tack in the carpet to me but this just seemed cringeworthy. And then it was over. Just in the nick of time! I would not have wanted to see/hear much more of this. I have always considered Howard Jones to be the nail in synthpop’s coffin, and this gig; one and a half songs that I managed to see, did nothing to dispel that notion. Not by a long shot.

Next: …Eleven Singles by OMD

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Concert Review, Core Collection and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to OMD @ Raleigh – Red Hat Amphitheater 7-3-16

  1. Taffy says:

    Oof, harsh! I saw HoJo once in the early 90s on his own and as a warmup at least one other time, and always found him inoffensive, his platitude-laced songs kind of bland. But…the catchiest ones are indeed catchy, i’ll give him that. Things Can Only Get Better, Life in One Day, No One is To Blame, New Song, and, um, some other ones I’m blanking on, are modest ear candy. Which is sometimes enough when you’ve got third billing at a concert!

    Like

    • Echorich says:

      Oh…inoffensive synth-pop is even harsher! I’m with Monk here, Jones was the final nail in the coffin of 80’s synth as pop which was done no service by the likes of Nik Kershaw or A-ha either.

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Echorich – DoublePlusGood on that Nik Kershaw! Plus, Jones was a prog guy who twisted in the wind to make his fortune. He was close, personal friends with Keith Emerson!

        Like

      • Tim says:

        *cough* *cough* left you left Level 42 off of that list. HoJo with slap bass.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – Then I guess this is a zone where we don’t have Venn Overlap®, because there’s a whole lotta Level 42 in my Record Cell! Really! A prize posession is my US “Hot Water” 12″ signed by all four original members. Not that I don’t sort of see where you’re coming from, but L42 was based on jazzfunk and as such are had and shoulders above the output of HoJo. “Life In One Day” is his exception for me, but that may have been skewed by the brilliant Godley + Creme video for that one. Not absolutely certain from whence my positive feelings issue from. Afrodiziak on B-vox didn’t hurt either! But even HoJo’s finest moment pales next to the jazzfunk train that is “Hot Water” and there’s more where that came from. Talk about your “impeccable groove!” Anyone else want to weigh in on our sub-topic: Level 42 – Boon or Bust? [see what I did there?]

          Like

          • Tim says:

            I like HoJo and Level 42, both in small doses….
            I was in the minority with both among friends back in the mid 80’s, especially Level 42.
            Between the two I would say that the Level 42 catalog has aged better. Hojo is really hit and miss, I am quite fond of a lot of his early 90’s album “Cross That Line.” The first side is more singles oriented (or things that I think he thought would be viable singles), it’s the second side that I really like a lot
            For L42 its the really really commercial stuff that I like by them, things like Something About You and Lessons in Love. Just really good pop songs.

            Like

        • Echorich says:

          I too have some time for Level 42 – in doses. If you attended any nightclub that mattered in NYC in the early 80s – Paradise Garage, The Saint, AM:PM – Level 42 got great exposure with tracks like Starchild, Hot Water or Micro Kid (Dub). By 84, they were settling into the sound that would make them chart worthy and thus less impressive, but there was something to their jazzy/disco/funk in the early 80’s that got people dancing.

          Like

      • Taffy says:

        Hmmm, now i’m being provoked with a dull stick! I’ll happily stand up for A-ha, love Morten Harket’s soaring vocals, and think that band are severely underrated in the US (and dismissed as one-hit wonders for Take On Me). No, I don’t think for a second A-ha hammered even a stubby nail in the coffin of synth pop. They have a delightfully rich back catalog of ace pop tunes and moody ballads.

        Like

        • Tim says:

          East of the Sun is a great album. I bought it on the strength of a review in The Onion of all places, they basically said this is a solid album and we’re not joking here and they were absolutely right. I would say if one buys only one A-Ha album get East of the Sun.

          Like

        • Echorich says:

          Never a huge fan of A-ha, but I will admit to having a soft spot for the truly “pomp-pop” of Sun Always Shines On TV – Morton’s accentuation on the line “Touch…Meeee” makes me smile everytime I hear it. I will agree he has a great voice. Enjoyed his Pet Shop Boys written single Listening from 2013 as well.

          Like

          • postpunkmonk says:

            Echorich – I always sort of felt that a-ha were aiming to be the Norwegian Ultravox. On that track, especially. The intro was a bit sappy but the payoff hit once the strings hit the bloodstream. The best emphatic from Mr. Harket this side of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, too!

            Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Taffy – I’ll chime in as somewhat ambivalent on the subject of a-ha. I have their first three albums and two Japanese laserdiscs. I saw them once, on their first US tour. I like “Scoundrel Days” the best, and by the time of “Stay On These Roads” I was losing interest. I used to have the Japanese CD EPs of remixes, but sold them off. I rarely listen to them now. Can’t say I dislike them. In fact, during my first trip to Atlanta to see OMD the first time in December, 1985, I was tempted to buy the CD of “Hinting High + Low” I saw in a Turtles since the disc had not yet been spotted in Orlando, where I lived then. Good thing I didn’t though. That mad money was better spent poring over the far more fascinating stock to be found during my first trip to Wax ‘N Facts!

          Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Yeah, I know it’s kind of harsh judging HoJo by the last seven minutes of his performance, but I did it anyway.

      Like

  2. Echorich says:

    I was discussing this tour with a friend at work today and he had seen HoJo at an outdoor venue in Madeira Beach/St. Pete last summer on a bill that included Culture Club and Marc Almond as well as Book Of Love. I declined even if it was the only option to see Almond possibly sing anything from last year’s best album The Velvet Trail, because it was 1 – outdoors in mid summer, Tampa Bay,when rain falls basically every afternoon around 5 -7pm, 2 – a package tour where the artist I wanted to see would likely go on early and play a few hits and nothing near a deep cut that I longed for, and 3 – a municipal venue off the beach where there was absolutely no parking to speak of.
    He came away from it soaked to the core and very unfulfilled. I was proven right as Almond played a brief set because of rain, HoJo was struck off and Culture Club rushed on to get them in before the rains – they failed on that count.
    Of course just to prove how I don’t keep to my own rules, I just came back from a wonderful weekend in Miami seeing The Cure and The Twilight Sad outdoors on the water in thick humidity, but thankfully no rain.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s