Live Review: OMD with Diamond Rings at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 13th July 2013

By on Wednesday, 17th July 2013 at 2:00 pm

Once I saw OMD wow fans at the posh settings of the Gateshead Sage in May, there was no question that I wanted to see them again when they came round to DC 2 months later. Forget that Savages were playing a sold-out show on the other side of town; the 9:30 Club was the place to be Saturday night. If it wasn’t entirely sold out, it was pretty damn close: if you turned around and looked back from our spot down the front, all you saw were bodies and more bodies crammed in on the floor and on the balcony.

Whether or not frontman Andy McCluskey recalled I was based in DC after answering our Quickfire Questions last week, it didn’t matter. Both him and partner in arms Paul Humphreys were bowled over by the reception, with McCluskey saying that there were definitely more punters present than in 2011. He further requested of us, “next time bring a friend…and maybe in 5 years’ time we’ll play the arena!” (meaning the Verizon Center, where Coldplay and Foo Fighters regularly sell out). It was a terribly optimistic statement for a band that many still view as a ‘80s new wave nostalgia act, but he wouldn’t have said it if he hadn’t been impressed by Washington.

Diamond Rings Washington live

The support band for this entire North American summer tour was Toronto’s Diamond Rings, aka Jon O’Regan, who started out in two entirely different bands before striking out on his own as an electronic artist. Like I’d brought Martin to the Gateshead show, in Washington I took Cheryl to this one, as she didn’t know much about OMD and I knew she would enjoy it. She had a very astute observation about the Diamond Rings’ style, suggesting that teenagers who enjoyed the Neighbourhood would also like this style of dance music. ::editor facepalm::

That would be an easy excellent explanation on why I didn’t like it – the music just wasn’t for me – but I knew it was more than that. It kind of hit me like a ton of bricks that the me of 3 years ago would have loved the strobe lighting and flashing coloured lights accompanied by funky electronic beats. That me wouldn’t have been bothered by O’Regan’s Max Headroom-type haircut. That me probably would have let lyrics like “I wanna be your A to Z!” slide, choosing to instead focus on the rhythms instead. But not tonight. Make no mistake, O’Regan definitely has talent, with a voice that can range from the dark Dave Gahan-esque vocals of ‘Waiting on My Angel’ to the nursery rhyme style of set closer ‘Day and Night’ that suits his youngest listeners. And I suppose until La Roux returns with a new album, Diamond Rings will just have to do.

OMD Washington 2013 1

In my review of OMD’s Sage show, I alluded to a potential UK vs. US disconnect in the way punters were likely to react to their set list. As you probably imagine, I don’t get the opportunity to see shows by the same band in two different countries all that often. By and large my assumptions were correct: while the set list had only minor differences, McCluskey smartly changed his stage patter ever so slightly to accommodate a stateside audience. Instead of referring to ‘If You Leave’ as the song where the band had sold their souls to the devil (Hollywood), the short preface of “this is a song from a film” was a sufficient signal to their American fans that “OMG! They’re playing my favorite song!” (I didn’t actually hear this uttered but there were two very excited, very drunk middle-aged women next to me that I thought might succumb to heart attacks when the Pretty in Pink theme song was queued up.) It must give McCluskey and Humphreys such a kick that one song can have such different reactions in two different countries. Instead of 1996’s ‘Walking on the Milky Way’, whose associated album ‘Universal’ did nothing in America, OMD’s encore began with the Humphreys-led ‘Secret’, to which McCluskey quipped, “we didn’t play this the last time, it’s lucky we got out of here alive”. Ha! Oh really?

OMD Washington 2013 2

Perhaps also it is the setting of the 9:30 Club that affected punter behavior, encouraging all out dancing and fist pumping. Earlier during Diamond Rings’ set, the first two rows of fans were wearing sunglasses as if in deference to the baby-faced Canadian artist who was also wearing them. Multiple times that evening, the aforementioned drunk ladies were shaking their tushes and didn’t care where they were shaking them, which generally didn’t happen the Sage, as the audience was largely encumbered by the auditorium style seating. I think also that a good barometer of just how good the audience was could be determined by the fact that the Americans were more receptive and accepting of the new material from this year’s ‘English Electric’ album, with McCluskey’s absolutely mad explanation of what ‘Kissing the Machine’ was about making everyone laugh and both ‘Metroland’ and ‘Dresden’ were met with mental dance reactions. These same reactions pretty much rivalled the kind of reaction you’d expect from ‘Tesla Girls’ and permanent last song of the night ‘Electricity’.

Two different shows, two different countries. Yet one result: appreciative, happy fans. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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3 Responses

2:03 pm
17th July 2013

New post: Live Review: OMD @OfficialOMD with Diamond Rings @diamondrings @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 13th July 2013

2:36 pm
17th July 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Live Review: OMD @OfficialOMD with Diamond Rings @diamondrings @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 13th July 2013…

2:52 pm
17th July 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Live Review: OMD @OfficialOMD with Diamond Rings @diamondrings @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 13th July 2013…

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