I’m a 90s baby. Put on a Third Eye Blind song or give me some Dave Matthews Band and I will be swimming in a pool of nostalgia. I know that there has been a resurgence of appreciation for 80s music but I just honestly haven’t been here for it. I don’t understand the music. The heavy synths tend to give me a bit of a headache and, like an old shirt I used to own said, music from the 80s sucks. Okay, that’s harsh and dramatic and obviously, I appreciate the music that paved the way for the stuff I listen to these days so I was more than honored to have the chance to catch the iconic Modern English on Tuesday night.
Local legend DJ Jake Rudh got the night started as people walked into The Fine Line on Tuesday. Known for his deep dives into 80s music and his way of truly sinking his audience into a sea of nostalgia without hesitation, Jake’s spinning seemed to take a backseat to the conversations happening throughout the room but did not go unnoticed. Music videos that, to me seemed campy, but to the crowd felt a bit like home played on the screen behind the stage. I didn’t recognize many of the tracks that Jake was spinning but that didn’t stop me from getting lost in the excitement that was palpable throughout the room. Sure, it was an older crowd but this audience was there to have a good time and that anticipation and excitement came to a climax as Modern English took the stage.
For my older readers, you know the band, I really don’t need to give you a run down of just how big of a deal they are. For my younger readers– you know that song “I Melt With You” that you somehow know every word of but don’t remember ever actually sitting down and listening to the full thing, that’s Modern English. Hailing from Essex, England, Modern English has been doing their thing since 1979 and even though they had a two-year break in 1989 and a four-year break in 1991, this band has never stopped doing their thing. Tuesday night’s show was part of a tour celebrating 40 (yes, you read that right) years of their 1982 album ‘After the Snow’.
Even though it was no surprise that the band was playing through the entire album on Tuesday night, it was a bit surprising as they took the stage and instantly jumped into “16 Days” from ‘Mesh & Lace’ and then continued into “Gathering Dust” from the same album. Although it was all new to me because honestly, the only song I knew from this band was the hit track “I Melt With You”, these two OG songs being played before the album playthrough absolutely had the audience in the right mind frame for the rest of the night.
Vocalist Robbie Grey had this almost playful nature to his performance that I instantly felt drawn to. Whether he was jamming away on the tambourine or aggressively stomping to the bass drum while clutching the microphone, there was just something about watching him that made it clear he was doing exactly what he was put on this world to do. Another member that caught me was keyboardist Stephen Walker. He wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary or anything like that but the sounds he had coming out of the keyboards really seemed to make Modern English’s sound what it is and I loved being able to see it happen right in front of my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to watch all of the members of this band perform but it was Robbie and Stephen that seemed to get my attention throughout the night.
I left the night feeling like I was walking out of a John Hughes movie in all of the right ways and will be forever grateful that I was able to experience Modern English live.