OMD goes time traveling

Andy McCluskey of OMD onstage at the Paradise. Andy McCluskey of OMD onstage at the Paradise. (Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe)
By Christopher Muther
Globe Staff / March 10, 2011

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This may have been its first tour of the United States in 23 years, but OMD sounded as remarkably fresh on Monday at the Paradise as it did at its mid-1980s peak. Synthesized songs of heartbreak (“Messages’’) and unrequited love (“Dreaming’’) were rendered with technical perfection to an adoring crowd, one member of which even hurled a bra on stage. During the band’s Boston stop. Andy McCluskey, the more energetic of the pair, with a shock of wiry black hair, bopped, hopped, and windmilled his way through the 90-minute set with admirable determination. He continually poked fun at his own dancing, before confessing to the audience that he had planned to return to touring with more dignity, but then decided “[expletive] it, I’m 51 years old.’’

McCluskey and Paul Humphreys are touring behind a new album, “History of Modern,’’ their first album of new material as a duo since 1986’s “The Pacific Age,’’ and they bravely offered a pair of songs from the new album, most notably the buoyant “New Babies: New Toys.’’ But make no mistake: This was an evening for time travel. McCluskey and the more demure Humphreys, who spent most of the evening grinning with delight from behind his keyboard, reached back to stark, electro early hits such as “Souvenir,’’ to sublime later commercial offerings, like the underrated 1986 single “Forever (Live & Die)’’ and their US breakthrough hit, “So in Love.’’

But the appreciative audience truly erupted when the band reached back to its early synthpop classics, like “If You Leave’’ — the beloved prom soundtrack to John Hughes’s teen tear-jerker “Pretty in Pink.’’ Songs such as “Joan of Arc’’ and “Electricity’’ are still hugely influential for bands such as Ladytron and MGMT, but to hear these songs delivered from the source with devastating precision was almost worth the 23-year wait. Fortunately, McCluskey promised a shorter wait until the band’s next tour.

Opening act Oh Land, the stage name for Danish export Nanna Oland Fabricius, can trace her musical lineage back to OMD, but sounded closer to an amalgamation of Bjork and Yelle. In her too short and very charming opening set, Fabricius shined with the fully formed pop of the catchy “Son of a Gun’’ and proved herself a worthy opener for the synthpop legends.

Christopher Muther can be reached at


With Oh Land

At: Paradise Rock Club, Monday