Music And Beyond: After 30 Years, Omd Returns To Tucson With Art Show, Performance

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark hasn’t been to Tucson in 30 years, but when the English new wave band returns to the city, it’ll come in with a bang.

OMD has teamed with the Museum of Contemporary Art for a VIP meet and greet and dialog with KXCI’s Elva de la Torre on Saturday, January 19. This intimate evening is in conjunction with the exhibition Dazzled: OMD, Memphis Design and Beyond on view at MOCA Tucson from January 19 through April 11.

The VIP event at MOCA Tucson will preface OMD’s concert that focuses on the album Dazzle Ships at The Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, January 22. Many of the songs have never been played in the United States, including a “semaphore performance” of the song “ABC Auto-Industry.”

“It’s a funky way of starting a rock ‘n’ roll show,” says singer Andy McCluskey about “ABC Auto Industry.” “The VIP event all really comes from Ginger Shulick Porcella, the executive director. We met a couple years ago on tour in San Diego when she was there.

“She floated the idea of doing something in the gallery inspired by our album sleeve artwork. When she moved to Tucson, she continued with the idea and we said we’d love to be involved in it.”

OMD, which McCluskey co-founded with Paul Humphreys, found success with its debut single, “Electricity,” in 1979. The 1983 album Dazzle Ships is regarded as an experimental classic.

“Electronic music is our language,” McCluskey says. “We took alternative music into the front rooms of every house in Britain.”

That it did. During its career OMD has sold 25 million singles and 15 million albums. McCluskey says 2019 is the continuation of a “strange year” for the band, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The last time it played Tucson was with the Thompson Twins in the 1980s.

“We will be releasing a whole album of unreleased things; bits and pieces from the last 40 years that’s really quite fascinating to hear,” he says. “The concert in Tucson is one gig where we’re going to do Dazzle Ships. Our social media people are going to go to Tucson. There are a lot of people traveling to that gig from all over the world.”

OMD has that effect on people. It kicked off its 40th anniversary celebration with two Liverpool gigs with a 70-piece orchestra. McCluskey says fans from around the world attended those as well. McCluskey and Humphreys deconstructed the songs and had them transcribed and arranged for a full orchestra.”

At this show, like others, McCluskey says he engages with the audience.

“I tend to be quite energetic. I did intend to have some decorum, but I still perform with a lack of dignity,” McCluskey says about OMD’s live shows. “It ain’t gonna stop now. It’s just a visceral way of connecting with the audience. No one can look any worse.”

He’s looking forward to the show and spending time in Tucson. McCluskey says OMD filmed the video for “Sailing on the Seven Seas” in this area.

“The nice thing is Paul and I will come in and do this Q&A on opening night on the 19th, then we’ll have three days off in Tucson to sample the delights of the city and play the concert,” he says.

“It’s a cultural oasis there. I’m looking forward to immersing myself a little more in that.”

more info

What: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Meet and Greet and Discussion

When: 5 p.m. (cocktails and meet and greet), 5:30 p.m. (dialog with OMD and KXCI’s Elva de la Torre); 7 p.m. (members’ preview); 8 p.m. (public reception) Saturday, January 19

Where: MOCA Tucson, 265 S. Church Avenue

Cost: $75

Info: 624.5019,

What: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Concert

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 22

Where: The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street

Cost: $35-$105