My concert routine now is different than it was in the 80’s, especially on a school night--
But after a failed effort at a crock pot dinner and backup plans for feeding my two kids, my wife and I headed to Bogart’s Wednesday night to see Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD).
The crowd was generally my age--people who were teenagers in the 80’s. Local openers Automagik delivered a solid 30 minutes before yielding to the headliners. And being Bogart’s there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and the performers looked life-sized, not specks in the distance.
OMD’s almost-original lineup (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphries, Malcom Holmes and longtime collaborator Stuart Kershaw) took the stage looking like four old uncles from a family reunion but more importantly, they sounded as tight and solid as they did when they formed in 1978. When McCluskey began to sing, my wife swore he transformed into his younger self.
It wasn't just him either. The crowd of middle-aged folk transformed, for the night, into their teen and 20-year-old selves. A few hundred people packed the main floor of the club and cheered raucously for every song. They loved the big hits like If You Leave or Forever Live and Die and they cheered just as hard for lesser known gems such as Joan of Arc and Walking on the Milky Way.
The band promised to return to Cincinnati and marveled at their reception. The ghost of 97X lingered since without a doubt many local fans were exposed to OMD’s synth pop magic through that one of a kind radio legend. McCluskey and the band fed off of the audience's energy and the show was a love fest between band and fans. The singer appeared truly humbled as he repeatedly thanked the audience and commended them for their energy. Maybe my wife was right and for a few fleeting moments it was the late 80s or early 90s. For a time I expected to hear Robin Plan on WOXY when I left and to wake up to Steve Baker and Julie Maxwell’s Morning Breakfast Club. Heck, maybe I’d even be getting ready for my old Saturday shift on WVXU’s nightwaves.
The spell was briefly broken by texts from my daughters, and for a moment I focused on picture day anxiety and a form that had to be filled out before one of them could go to bed. Despite parental responsibilities, we stayed for the entire 90-minute set and three-song encore. No hit was left untouched and I suspect everyone left the venue happy.
-Host of 180 Minutes + and Annex 1313, JD