Andy McCluskey fronts Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark with some signature dance moves at 9:30 Club on March 6, 2018. (Photo by Paivi)
Andy McCluskey moved like a man possessed. As frontman for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Andy danced up a storm during a sold-out show at 9:30 Club on Tuesday. And with that distinctive dancing, Andy threw wide his arms, hugged himself, and generally windmilled around the stage frenetically.
OMD (Photo courtesy Tell All Your Friends)
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, aka OMD, are one of the best modern English bands to emerge from the UK new wave scene, and I would go so far as to say one of the best bands ever anywhere period. OMD play at 9:30 Club on Tuesday, March 6, and you can win tickets to go with Parklife DC by joining us at Dodge City on Thursday, Jan. 11.
Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey (right) of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Photo courtesy Ticketfly)
The brilliant Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) released The Punishment of Luxury, their 13th studio album, on Sept. 1 via 100% Records subsidiary White Noise. The album fared very well commercially, hitting #4 on the UK Albums chart as well as #7 on the US Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart.
I had the genuine pleasure of again chatting with Andy McCluskey, vocalist, bassist, keyboardist, and songwriter for OMD, as the band will launch a North American Tour with a performance at 9:30 Club on March 6, 2018. (It’s not officially announced by 9:30 Club yet, but buy your tickets online here.)
In our chat, Andy provides insights into songs on The Punishment of Luxury, shares his feelings on recent work by Gary Numan and New Order, and reveals artists (with some surprises) with whom OMD would like to collaborate (particularly as they approach their 40th anniversary as a band).
I babbled a bit more than usual because he’s a personal hero, and as such my interview covered a lot of ground. I’ve edited the order of the questions to improve their logical flow and trimmed them where necessary for brevity. (Also, perhaps read our previous Parklife DC interview with Andy McCluskey from May 2016.)
Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches sings at Echostage on Oct. 17, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
I’ll confess that I’m a man whose taste in music is readily apparent. If you have new wave tunes to play, particularly from 1976-86, I’m going to show up and listen to them. That said, a number of incredible legacy new wave bands happened to travel through the DC metro area over the past year, and I took the opportunity to review them for our humble blog.
That said, a number of younger bands definitely broke through and seized my attention, most notably Canada’s Operators, who were the most exciting new band I’ve seen in some time. As with Operators, many of the best performances I witnessed in 2016 came from bands whose leaders are among the Masters of Synthpop, and so I have dedicated a postscript of really great synthpop shows that may have “missed” the top 10 but otherwise deserve a lot of applause.
Check out my top 10 list of concerts I saw for Parklife DC. (Click on the concert slugline to revisit the full review.)
Ed Robertson and Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies perform at Wolf Trap on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Canadian rockers Barenaked Ladies hit the stage at Wolf Trap on Wednesday with an appropriate speculation:
“Maybe it would be cool/If I rocked it old school/Try to break a gold rule/And a sweat,” sang vocalist Ed Robertson in opening number “Testing 1, 2, 3” from the band’s 2003 album, Everything to Everyone. The refrain goes: “Testing 1, 2, 3, Can anybody hear me?” And the answer at the very full pavilion at Wolf Trap is a resounding yes!
Warmed up by openers Howard Jones and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, the roughly 7,000 people in Wolf Trap’s Filene Center were ready to party down with their favorite jangle-rock icons, who are sweeping the United States through July 24 on the strength of a new live album, BNL Rocks Red Rocks, released in February via Concord Records, in a show titled “Last Summer on Earth.”
Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys of OMD perform at Wolf Trap on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
“We’re going to play that famous song from that famous movie,” said Andy McCluskey, frontman for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) at Wolf Trap Wednesday.
“No, not that one,” he added, rejecting the notion the band were about to play their biggest US hit — “If You Leave” from the movie Pretty in Pink. “The other one!”
Andy and his three bandmates launched into “Tesla Girls,” which in fact appeared on the soundtrack of another John Hughes movie, Weird Science. And so it was that OMD electrified roughly 7,000 people in a smash-up set as openers for Barenaked Ladies.
Andy McCluskey (left) and Paul Humphreys of OMD (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)
As a champion of new wave music in general and synthesizers specifically, one of my biggest musical heroes is Andy McCluskey, frontman for the groundbreaking British synthpop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). A decade ago, Andy reunited with collaborator Paul Humphreys and relaunched the classic OMD lineup, which has been publishing new albums in recent years. And here in the United States, OMD remains celebrated for ‘80s singles such as “Enola Gay,” “So in Love,” and of course “If You Leave” (the band’s contribution to the soundtrack of the John Hughes film Pretty in Pink).
I had the singular honor of chatting with Andy recently about OMD’s upcoming tour of America, recent projects (including a new OMD album in the making), and matters of state in the European Union! [We also discussed more politics, but I cut some of that in favor of length and focus.]
Mickey McCarter: Hello, Andy!
Andy McCluskey: Mickey, hello again, how are you?
MM: Great! How are you?
AM: Great! I just got home from a very successful concert in Stockholm over the weekend, and the sun is shining in England, so all is good. [OMD played in Stockholm recently on May 21.]
MM: Fantastic! Since you mention that concert, you’ve been doing quite a bit of live album shows and releases, and that all seems to be going very well.