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Concert Reviews

Modern English is Back

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“I’ll stop the world and melt with you
You’ve seen the difference and
It’s getting better all the time
There’s nothing you and I won’t do
I’ll stop the world and melt with you…”

Most of you no doubt remember chanting these iconic lyrics at some point in your lifetime nearly thirty years ago. (Yes, thirty!) Oh, if only we could go back in time to that moment in history that many consider to be the pinnacle of pop music. Alas, ‘tis only a dream…unless, of course, you were one of the lucky few that helped pack Smiths Olde Bar in Atlanta on September 20th. One of our favorite venues and great supporter of The Backstage Beat, Smiths Olde Bar proudly played host to very first Modern English shows in the southern United States in twenty-five years.

As legendary as Modern English may be in the history of 80s pop culture, what you may not realize is that they actually did not start out as a pop band when they originally formed in 1979. In truth, upon the release of their 1982 album After the Snow (which included that unforgettable song “I Melt With You”) lead singer Robbie Grey admitted, “We used to think ‘God, we’ll never make a pop record. We’re artists!’, but things don’t always turn out as you planned and when you actually create a pop record, it’s so much more of a thrill than anything else.”

And Tuesday night’s concert took us through the same musical progression that the band experienced over the decades. After walking out in his red pair of classic Ray Bans and opening up the show with a bang, Grey and all of his original band members exposed us to a plethora of musical styles that the band toyed with over the years. From the punk sounds of their early years, to the psychedelic noises of later experimentation, Modern English revealed to us every facet of their unique personality.

Finally, though, the band rewarded our patience and loyalty with what we really all came out for: “the commercial stuff.” Without further ado, they went straight into the fan favorite “All Across The Sea.” One at a time, each of these hit songs surely conjured up memories of a not-so-distant past for everyone in the audience. Nonetheless, Modern English saved the greatest moment for the end of the night. When they finally broke down and struck those oh-so-recognizable first chords of “I Melt With You,” everyone in attendance acted as if they actually were reliving the 1980s.

However, despite what decade it may have felt like that night, the reality remains that this was the real Modern English unabashedly ushering their 80s culture straight into the 21st century. Don’t be dismayed, though, because this was not your typical band reunion concert. Robbie Grey and his boys came all the way back from the UK to tell us live and in person that Modern English is back! And as soon as this tour ends, they are headed straight back to the studio to produce a good ol’ fashioned comeback album. In other words, as far as Modern English is concerned…

“…the future’s…open…wide!”

photos by rob and ange alex

[nggallery id=398]

[box type=”info”] Note from the editor: Ange and I went to Smiths Olde Bar to experience Modern English on our 9 year wedding anniversary and each took pix. The band was clearly jet-lagged having just flown in the day before. A great group of guys and it was a blast meeting them before the show. It came time to write the review after editing pix and TBB writer Blake Arledge put the performance into words in such a way that we just decided to use his wonderful review. -rob alex[/box]

Concert Reviews

Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad

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Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.

Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”

Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.

The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.

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Concert Reviews

Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair

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The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.

What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.

Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.

Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.”  The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.

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Concert Reviews

Years & Years at Royale Boston

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During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.

Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.

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