Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark ended their North American Souvenir Greatest Hits tour with a sold-out show at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, and it was just the show we needed.
An already emotional week added another shock for music fans when Depeche Mode’s Andrew Fletcher passed away at the age of 60. An ‘80s music icon was unexpectedly gone and so many of us were stunned. Throughout many difficult times in my life, I have turned to music, so I admit, I was looking forward to the escape of OMD.
The Greek was filled with the energy of people who had waited years to see the English synth band, and as Paul Humphreys told us last month, he was excited they were finally able to bring their full production – a first for US audiences – and celebrate their 40th anniversary. And when it came time for OMD to take the stage, the crowd volume was insane!
After opening with “Atomic Ranch” and “Stanlow,” Andy McCluskey greeted the cheering audience. “It’s so good to be back!” he exclaimed. His tone went serious and he continued, “There is something we have to talk about. We, as you I’m sure, were all shocked and saddened today about the passing of Andy Fletcher. One of the nicest guys you’d ever meet, a family member of one of the greatest bands EVER. So we’re sending our love to Fletch’s family and all the Depeche boys. The only thing we can do is to celebrate him, the way we do it, the way Depeche do it… by playing music. Will you join us? We’re going to party like it’s the Rose Bowl in 1988.” (OMD opened up for Depeche Mode in 1988 for their historic 101 concert at the Rose Bowl.)
Through new songs and some older favorites, McCluskey was energetic and bouncing around the stage, dancing, jumping, visiting both sides of the audience. There was a lot of joking with each other and the crowd, making it feel like we were all friends having a wonderful evening together. The sound and that full production Humphreys told us about was definitely amazing.
After “Messages,” McCluskey joked about drummer Stuart Kershaw having a technical issue: “Stu, are you breaking your drum kit again? Stop hitting it!” Once settled, they went into “Tesla Girls,” which elicited a huge response from the crowd, causing McCluskey to say, “Let me see your hands! Oh… you look good!” McCluskey’s appreciation of the crowd continued, “You sound fantastic! Now let me see if you can dance like me.”
After “History of Modern (Part 1),” McCluskey stated, “You’ve got the job. Now will you all come to England and do festivals with us in the summer?” This of course brought a loud cheer. He continued, “I’d like to introduce you to the superstar sex machine of the concert… Mr. Humphreys!” McCluskey and Humphreys swapped places and we were treated to Humphreys singing “(Forever) Live and Die” and “Souvenir.”
After every song, there were long pauses of cheering and howling for the band. McCluskey could stand, raise his arms, and crowd would go crazy. In another of his appreciative moments, McCluskey joked, “The only downside of playing in this place is I can see my fucking awful dancing on those screens.”
Humphreys, Kershaw and Martin Cooper joined McCluskey at the front of the stage for several songs. Then McCluskey shared “Statues” had been inspired by the passing of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. He also said the next song, “Almost,” was the B-side and had been the song Vince Clarke and his friends learned and decided they were good enough to start a band… that band being Depeche Mode. (Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode after one album and would go on to start Yaz and Erasure.)
After declaring, “Enough of the sad songs,” McCluskey and all upped the mood with more danceable songs, at one point declaring, “We need to get warmer. There’s another 93 songs to go!” The opening of “So In Love” drew an incredible response from fans.
Once again, McCluskey addressed the crowd: “Thank you for dancing like it was the Rose Bowl in 88! We started with this song, so we’ll finish with it.” “Enola Gay” began and the crowd got even more insane, singing along and closing the song out clapping along with the band.
After a deafening crowd showed their appreciation requesting more, the guys walked back out. Humphreys quipped, “So I think we forgot to play something.”
McCluskey discussed the tour, gave thanks to the band, their crew (even Maggie the dog!), and said, “There’s a little song we have to play for you,” and launched into “If You Leave,” followed by “Secret” and “Electricity.”
It seemed like the crowd would never end their clapping and cheering, but once they quieted a little, Humphreys said, “We shall see you again!”
McCluskey closed with words that are the best way to close this review: “Things change, but the music is eternal.”