[continued from last post]
I was just ready to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in December of 1985. One of my friends I’d met in college who was also in the Graphic Design program was an interesting guy named Jim Ivy. He worked at the time in a Musicland in the Fashion Square Mall and was also involved in music as a sideline. I saw him a lot at college and shared a class with his girlfriend at the time. We weren’t close friends but he had great taste in music. He was the reason I got hipped to The Blue Nile very early on. I can’t remember exactly how I found out about the Thompson Twins date at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta early in December, but this was fairly intoxicating to me, even in 1985 because of all of the dozens of bands I obsessed over the most, I had seen none of them by this time. Any bands I had seen by 1985 [to be counted on with one’s fingers, sadly] were not exactly any of my Core Collection. It was a case of settling for a Berlin or Joe Jackson because it was either that or Ted Nugent.
Bands I actually collected never came within striking distance of Central Florida. They occasionally came to the Gulf/Space Coast but generally passed by Boreblando. It was Hotlanta or nothing for anything of interest. The New York of the South had great clubs like Masquerade and 688 that actively booked those weird British bands I tended to favor. I put this down now to the old school talent bookers like Fat Harry Productions who could not be bothered by anything that wouldn’t put 3000 people in the Lakeland Civic Center or 70K on the Orange bowl.
Round One – December 1985
So when I found out that on December 8th that The Thompson Twins with OMD opening were at The Fox, I called Jim Ivy up and when he said he was going, I boldly invited myself along. I look back now and shake my head at my temerity, but these were desperate times! I was not getting a steady diet of Ultravox or Simple Minds shows pitched in my direction. If I could drive ten hours and see OMD, who were already fat in my Record Cell, then all bets were off! Fortunately, Jim acquiesced and on the Sunday morning of December 8, 1985, Jim’s work buddy, who was driving, came by and picked me up.
It was four New Wave guys in a car heading to Atlanta for kicks. We all made mix tapes, of course, and had fun exposing the others to maybe a band or two that we have not had a chance to check out. I know I first heard Tones On Tail that trip, and a stately 26 years later, I finally bought their entire recorded output while [are you ready?] trekking again to Atlanta to see OMD… this time headlining in 2011. The drive to Atlanta takes a while from Orlando. About ten hours, and when we got there, of course, the first thing we did was try to go to Wax N’ Facts! Unfortunately, back then they were closed on Sundays! Arrrrgh! This meant that we had to stay overnight and hit the store on Monday morning, but we were down with that.
For some reason, we went to a Turtles [record] store that was open but uninspiring. I had about $120 on me to pay for gas/food/lodging as well as records at Wax N’ Facts, so this had to be spread thinly. We needed to crash in Atlanta and the only person I knew there at the time was matriculating at Georgia Tech. She lived in the dorms so no crashing there, leaving us to our own devices. I don’t remember eating, strangely enough. Around seven we headed for the venue and The Fox had been touted by chasinvictoria as quite the palace since he lived in nearby Mableton [City Of Tomorrow®] for a year or two after high school and went there for shows during that time.
We filed into the gorgeous theatre and were in high anticipation. I looked at the merch but there was no tour program, only tee-shirts. And if you can believe it, I did not wear tee-shirts from roughly 1981-1991. No, I dressed like OMD in white dress shirts and slacks! The band were touring in their six man formation with the Weir Brothers on horns and guitar augmenting the classic OMD lineup. They came out and performed a fantastic opening set. I was not taking notes, but this set list from Chicago’s Metro from earlier in September [as headliners] feels about right.
Set List Suggestion
- Tesla Girls
- Motion and Heart
- Maid of Orleans
- So in Love
- Enola Gay
- Women III
The Metro 9/2/85 set list above did not contain “Electricity,” but I recall that as being in the set. We got a smattering of “Crush” tracks and as many OMD classic singles as they could pack into the remainder. Since OMD were only starting their fall from grace, we were pretty ecstatic at the results! The four of us were very much on an OMD buzz as we decided to leave the venue about three songs into the Thompson Twins tepid set. We were all ex-Thompson Twins fans by that point in 1985 and the thrill was long gone. What I would have given to have seen the “Side Kicks” tour but that never happened. Though Jim and one of his friends did in Daytona Beach during Spring Break of 1983 when all sorts of New Wave acts were hitting the scene, I think. I recall finding out about it from Jim ex post facto in an art class afterward.
I was simply not used to seeing a band that I loved that much and in a beautiful venue to boot. We found a hotel that looked like we could afford it and split the room four ways. We crashed and awoke the next day starving, so we broke the fast at an IHOP. I do remember that much. We got to Little Five Points and waited long minutes for Wax N’ Facts to open. It was the best visit to Wax N’ Facts I have ever had. Not only was it the first time, but the 7″ action was at its peak with tons of original New Wave material from ’78-’84 still fat in the bins. I got some wonderful records that I have never seen anywhere else in the ensuing decades. We all spent as much as we could there. It’s what record geeks do. We shopped then hit the road for the long trek back.
It was apparent that the friend of Jim’s who had the afternoon shift at Musicland on Monday evening was going to be a bit late, so we made a pit stop to call in for him. While they were on the phone with work, others there told them that The Thompson Twins and OMD were now having a date in Central Florida at the Lakeland Ciciv Center in early January. So the trip to Atlanta was not as necessary now as it had been a few weeks earlier. But I beg to differ. That trip was one of the biggest events for me in the 80s as I first went to Atlanta, which would become second nature to me by the next decade. And more importantly, it marked the first time I saw a band that meant as much to me as OMD did. This was a very big thing for a music geek like me who lived in the cultural backwaters of America where the bands I loved the most rarely ventured.
Next: …One More Time