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Melbourne, Australia Band, Rolling Blackouts CF, Puts on a Colorful Show with Moaning Band at The Echo

By DONNA BALANCIA

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is re-importing new wave music to the U.S. much to the fans’ delight.

Call the Aussies’ music “new wave,” “power pop,” “alternative,” or whatever you may, Rolling Blackouts CF played colorful, upbeat and innovative tunes at The Echo last night and got the fans to their collective feet.

This young band from down under in Melbourne kept the house dancing to new and well-played punkish pop tunes.  The guys —  Tom, Fran, Joe W., Joe R. and Marcel — are wrapping up a U.S. tour that has re-introduced 1980s-style new wave to a young audience. They head back to their continent after their last stop in Seattle.

Rolling Blackouts give us a new view into a tried and true genre – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

It was a fortunate happenstance that we got to see this great band.  The music of Rolling Blackouts CF sounds like a casual and cruisin’ 1980s party, with a driving beat and lingering guitar.  The vocals are right on the money and Rolling Blackouts CF takes a page out of the book of some of the great bands from the 1980s new wave genre. But don’t take the calm demeanor of these road-weary performers for granted.  They’re playing understated songs that are quite intricate, with new sounds, riffs and unusual patterns.

We’re partial to these guys, they’re going places, and we hope they come back soon.  Other bands can take a lesson from Rolling Blackouts CF’s positive attitude, their obvious enjoyment of playing together, and their interesting and well-produced music.

Opener Moaning impressed the crowd with its similar alternative style and it’s easy to see that the guys put a lot of energy into their work. If the opportunity arises to see this band, Moaning should not be missed.

RBCF Setlist:

 

Rolling Blackouts – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

The Echo was jumping from the music these five Aussies laid down – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Rolling Blackouts CF take a page out of the new wave of the 1980s and spin their style into the future – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Rolling Blackouts CF: Colorful – © Donna Balancia

 

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Moaning captures the crowd at The Echo – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Moaning – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Modern English: All These Years Later, Legendary New Wave Band Does More Than ‘Melt With You’

Robbie Grey of Modern English - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Robbie Grey of Modern English – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Robbie Grey: ‘I’ll Melt With You’ is ‘The Song That Pays The Bills’

By DONNA BALANCIA – Modern English may look a little different than back in 1981, but the music is better than ever.

The British band known for superhit “I’ll Melt With You” is tight and gave a stellar performance at The Echoplex Sunday night.

The iconic band performed its 1981 LP Mesh and Lace in its entirety to celebrate the 11th-Year Anniversary of the excellent Part Time Punks program. Underpass, Soft Kill and Sextile brought diversity of alt rock sounds prior to the headliner.

Mick Conroy on bass, Gary McDowell on guitar and Robbie Grey on vocals set the pace as Colchester, UK’s first punk band, The Lepers, back in 1979.  When keyboardist Stephen Walker and drummer came on board, they became Modern English and took on a more new wave-style sound.

Gary McDowell of Modern English - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Gary McDowell of Modern English – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Still Together

It’s fantastic the band is together again after some ups and downs, unlike many of their colleagues from the era like Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Gang of Four.  Hugh Jones, who also produced Echo and the Bunnymen produced Mesh and Lace and had a good deal to do with the band’s post-punk sound. The UK produced most of the well-known punk/new wave bands in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

And while they may look a little older, a little more heavily tattooed, Modern English band members have a young appearance and a lot of stories to tell.

The members of the band who have broken up, gotten back together, tried to go separate ways and tried different music projects realized they’re cherished by not only the generation they’re from, but also by today’s younger fans.

Bassist Mick Conroy gets the handoff from Robbie Grey during Modern English performance at the Echoplex - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Bassist Mick Conroy gets the handoff from Robbie Grey during Modern English performance at the Echoplex – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Advertising Income

That could in part be because of the popularity of the group’s 1982 superhit “I’ll Melt With You,” which has had enormous commercial success and has been played in everything from U.S. TV commercials pitching cheeseburgers, chocolate and tacos, to feature films.

But the band says the new wave song is really about a couple making love as a nuclear bomb is dropped. No matter, the song closed out for the evening as Robbie called it “The Song That Pays The Bills.”

Favorites of the night taken directly from the Mesh and Lace album are the classic upbeat songs “Smiles and Laughter,” “Gathering Dust” and “Swans on Glass.”  The songs were badass in the day and still hold up today.

With Modern English you get what you expect. It’s refreshing in that they call themselves what they are.  With the exception of drummer Roy Martin, who handled the kit with amazing agility and blend, the band is comprised of all the original members.

Gary McDowell of Modern English - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Gary McDowell of Modern English – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Long Run

In the never-ending quest for to make a living, there are many bands out there with only one remaining member who call themselves the name they used to go by when they were four.

But it should be determined at what point would it be considered false advertising to call a band with departed anchor members by its original name.

Joy Division evolved into New Order, then split into two bands, New Order, and Peter Hook and the Light. Let’s hope Modern English will never have to endure a similar fate.

But it’s clear that Modern English has their colleagues on the brain — with Robbie sporting a Joy Division T-shirt and changing into a David Bowie T-shirt to honor the departed musician.  And he performed happily — even when a gal came on stage and started hugging him. But Robbie is a good reflection of the band — seems Modern English will withstand the test of time and simply shrug and carry on.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”53″ gal_title=”Modern English – Sextile – Part Time Punks”]

 

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