Review: OMD at The Fox

Camino and I got to The Fox super early last Saturday to hand out ice cream for the OMD soundcheck and meet and greet. The band and friendly folks from Bright Arena (OMD’s US label) were kind enough to invite Camino and me in to watch the soundcheck and attend the meet and greet, too.

We got to hear Telegraph, So In Love, If You Leave, Seven Seas, and several others. Andy bantered back and forth with the group of about 80 lucky fans, joking around and asking our thoughts on the sound. The house lights were partially up in the theater and it was wonderful to take in the beauty of The Fox as the band progressed through their paces. As the last notes were played, Camino and I raced out a few steps ahead of the small crowd and grabbed the Ice Cream cooler from our car parked right across from the will call entrance and started handing out ice cream.

After the soundcheck, about 30 super-lucky people remained inside the venue for a meet-and-greet. I wondered why so few slots were available for this paid VIP meet and greet, and the answer soon became apparent. We went back in the venue and found the four band members were set at a table with copious quantities of sharpie pens. Each fan was escorted to the table and was able to have the four guys all to themselves. Each member signed an album or two and there was time for a leisurely chat. Nothing was rushed. There was a dedicated staff person for taking pictures, and after all stories had been told, and all the gushing had finished the staffer would take a picture or two of the fan with the band. The band seemed genuinely glad to be meeting their fans, and of course the fans were beaming. I was glad that Ice Cream Man could be the cherry on the sundae, so to speak, by handing out free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream as the fans left the meet and greet.

Once the meet and greet was over, we hit the show line that had been slowly forming out front since before the soundcheck. It had been raining constantly for almost 10 days, but as luck would have it, the rain broke for the afternoon and everyone in line not only stayed dry, but they also saw a little sunshine through the clouds while they enjoyed their ice cream.

After slinging the cream, we skipped over to get a bit of dinner. We made it back in plenty of time to catch Danish up and comers “Oh Land” in their opening slot. Their dancy pop kept the crowd in a good mood as they waited for the headliners to arrive. and quite a crowd it was; the venue was packed.

This show had originally been scheduled for the much smaller (1,000 capacity) Mezzanine in SF. Thankfully the event was moved to the 2,800 capacity Fox in Oakland. It was great to see that the band was able to sell out even this much larger capacity venue. It had been over 20 years since OMD played the bay area, so clearly there was much excitement and energy in the air.

The size and enthusiasm of the crowd seemed to be a great surprise to McCluskey and Humphries. McCluskey repeated apologized for being away for so long, and promised to come back within the year. The crowd was jubilant, even by bay-area standards. McCluskey took the lead and the crowd gleefully followed him in jumping, clapping and singing along as we were all transported back to our younger high school selves.

Even more astonishing than the crowd’s energy was McCluskey’s. This 50-something pop star was channeling his 20-something self as he stomped and danced all the while playing the bass with fervor. This was all the more impressive after finding out that McCluskey had two heart surgeries last year. At recent concerts McCluskey has been graciously thanking both his heart surgeon and a man who “fixed” his knee.

Midway through the set, McCluskey stepped into the shadows and Humphries took center stage, as he crooned one of my favorites, Souvenir. He also sounded better than ever on “Forever Live and Die.” I was really surprised at how well the band and their material has held up over the decades. I was thankful that there was no modern spin on any of the tracks. We got vintage OMD that sounded just as fresh as it did back when it was released in the 80’s.

One of the rarest aspects of this band’s reunion is the presence of all four founding members of the band. So many times just a key player or two will reform the band and go on tour. In OMD’s case, they’re all back and in fine form.

Keyboardist/saxaphonist Martin Cooper and drummer Malcom Holmes made the quartet complete. It was especially gratifying to see Holmes back on stage as he’d suffered a major heart attack a few years back. I think that there was a palpable sense of acceptance and gratitude about growing older that that contributed to the ease and enthusiasm that exuded from the stage. It was great to see four musicians enjoying each other’s company and humbly basking in the glow of their triumphant comeback.

See the full set of 25 photos from the show on flickr:
[flickr album=72157626271927179 num=6 size=Thumbnail]

OMD at The Fox Setlist
New Babies: New Toys
Tesla Girls
Radio Waves
History Of Modern (Part I)
(Forever) Live And Die
If You Leave
Joan Of Arc
Maid Of Orleans
New Holy Ground
Talking Loud And Clear
So In Love
Sister Marie Says
Sailing On The Seven Seas
Enola Gay

Walking On The Milky Way

Memories: Paul and me backstage at the Orpheum in Boston, December of 1986.
Me & Paul of OMD