Written by Imogen Bebb 01/2020
Hi there! My name is Imogen Bebb, and welcome to what will hopefully be the first of many monthly blogs posts I’ll be writing for ‘Europe’s premier tribute to OMD’, Manoeuvres – aka husband and wife duo Barry and Sarah-Leigh Walton (although if you’re reading this then you probably knew that already).
I’ve been told I am to be given a relatively free rein with this series, so you can expect posts about anything related to Manoeuvres themselves, OMD, musical influences, touring, and all manner of things in between. This is an exciting opportunity for me as I love to write, particularly about music, so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to writing these and having them published.
‘But who is this person whose writings, thoughts and general musings we are to be subjected to for the foreseeable future?!’ I hear you cry (or at least mutter). Given that you probably don’t know me from Adam, this is an understandable question, so as part of this first post I shall aim to introduce myself and tell you a bit more about how I was fortunate enough to meet Barry and Sarah.
First things first: I am twenty years old, and currently a music journalism student at the University of Chester. Before this I studied music at Kidderminster College, where at the end of my first year I organised a tribute to the music of OMD called ‘Final Song’, which Andy McCluskey came to see. A few months after this I was contacted by Barry and Sarah, who asked a group of us involved with ‘Final Song’ to open for them at one of their gigs (under the guise of ‘Stanlow Incorporated’) with a few songs from the show at a venue called The Robin 2, near Wolverhampton.
Final Song. 2018
This was way back in August 2018, and since then I have been lucky enough to be able to support Manoeuvres again on my own at a number of venues around the U.K., performing a mixture of my own material and cover versions to (as I mentioned before) audiences that understandably often had no idea who I was, but who only ever showed support and enthusiasm.
Imogen Bebb: Support. St.Pauls, Worthing 2019
So now hopefully you know a little bit more about who I am and how I came to be writing this. And in fact this brings me dangerously close to the actual point I was originally intending to make with this post- that the OMD fanbase is made up of some of the kindest, most genuinely supportive people on the planet.
This first became evident to me when I started getting involved with some of the OMD Facebook groups, but was evidenced further at every Manoeuvres gig I played or attended.
Imogen Bebb with Manoeuvres 2019. Pic: Lisa Hawkins.
It’s like a member’s club – except the only prerequisite is that you like (or even are just able to show an interest in) OMD and their music. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, if you like or show an interest in then you are made to feel welcome. Only a few weeks ago I wrote a piece for a book by another fan about the ‘632 3003’ phone box (more on that in a future post, I would imagine), detailing how I felt as if I’d truly found somewhere I belonged at the first big OMD fan meet-up I attended. There are certainly others who feel this way too; we have been referred to as the ‘OMD Family’ on numerous occasions.
Of course, as with any large group of people, there’s always exceptions – I’m not saying everyone gets on, and I often joke that if the career as a musician or music journalist doesn’t work out, I’m going to write a television series about some of the more dramatic goings-on that have taken place within the fanbase (I would change names, of course…in most cases, anyway!).
But for the majority of the time spent together, I like to think we OMD fans are a relatively easy-going, fun-loving bunch, slightly aggressive perhaps only when it comes to windmill dancing in the aisles (and elsewhere), or when singing (a term I use loosely) along to songs about aeroplanes, silent movie actresses and phone boxes.
And it is on that strangely positive note after what has felt like a particularly long, drawn-out, chilly January, I shall sign off on this post.
Of course, don’t forget to keep checking Manoeuvres’ social media pages for gig announcements; there’s twenty nine dates already up there for 2020, with some other exciting news to come later in the year too.
See you next month!
Written by Imogen Bebb 01/2020