Photos and Review by Jennie Book
Stepping into the House of Blues in Anaheim on November 19 for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s (OMD) performance was like entering a time capsule of synthpop nostalgia. The band spent their nearly two hours on stage showcasing their lasting influence to the 80s new wave scene, making it clear that they belong on a pedestal with the other top UK acts who came stateside in the 80s and changed music forever.
Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphries and band kicked off the night with a charged 20-song set that included “Enola Gay” and “So In Love.” Right away the room responded to McCluskey’s crazy dance moves and energy, yelling lyrics and dancing as much as they could in the sardine can House of Blues. Unlike their more hits-centric Darker Waves Festival set the day prior, this full show allowed OMD’s extensive catalog to breathe, showing all the depth and evolution of their music through the years.
The House of Blues, literally bursting at the seams with a sold-out and devoted crowd, was full of fans who’d come from far and wide after catching OMD at the Darker Waves Festival in Huntington Beach the day before. Even the photographers were from scattered corners – Washington DC, Utah, San Francisco – everyone there to capture the band’s magic and rare US appearance. The Orange County audience, mostly Gen-Xers, transformed the venue into a melting pot of generations, as parents stood smashed together in the crowd with their teenagers, everybody uniting over hits like “Dreaming.”
A highlight of the evening was the performance of the iconic “If You Leave,” a track etched into pop culture thanks to its association with the 1986 classic “Pretty In Pink.” Funny to note that several of the bands at Darker Waves found a US fanbase in John Hughes movies – Psychedelic Furs, New Order, Dave Wakeling, and Echo & The Bunnymen all had soundtrack hits that helped open US audiences to synthpop in the 80s.
As the House of Blues echoed with the final encore notes of “Secret” and “Electricity,” it was clear that OMD’s legacy endures. And with an ambitious European tour in 2024 ahead, OMD continues to prove that their music resonates across generations. For the latest updates and tour information, check out omd.uk.com.