Home Live Review Live Review: Modern English @ Zebulon (Los Angeles, CA) — 5/19/23

Live Review: Modern English @ Zebulon (Los Angeles, CA) — 5/19/23

Live Review: Modern English @ Zebulon (Los Angeles, CA) — 5/19/23
Robbie Grey fronts Modern English at Zebulon on May 19, 2023. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath)

Modern English, the renowned English post-punk band most famous for “I Melt With You,” is in the process of achieving a few career milestones.

Of most excitement to many fans, the quintet revealed they are in the process of recording a new album. The band recently unveiled the clever “Long in the Tooth” from the upcoming album during a “secret” show that served as a warm-up gig to the Cruel World Festival, performing at Zebulon in Los Angeles.

Thanks to Ben Eisendrath for these photos of the show! 

On May 19, the night prior to their inaugural appearance at Cruel World, frontman Robbie Grey and company spent a leisurely hour on stage performing in Zebulon’s back concert room. A couple of Gen X stalwarts hailing from DC, Ben Eisendrath and Mickey McCarter were in town for Cruel World. And we were invited by those with connections to come out and see the Modern English secret show.

The band were in high spirits, and they played 10 songs very well-received by the very full cabaret. The next day, Modern English performed many of those songs, not the new one of course, to roughly 70,000 people at the Cruel World main stage.

To add to the milestones, Modern English will be one of the first bands to perform inside The Atlantis, an intimate new club opened by IMP next door to its signature 9:30 Club in DC on June 4.

Modern English opened their Zebulon show with “16 Days” from Mesh & Lace, the band’s revered 1981 debut album. They chose three more songs from that album — “Gathering Dust,” “Black Houses,” and “Swans on Glass” and spend them throughout the show.

Stream Mesh & Lace by Modern English on YouTube:

Modern English also performed several songs from their beloved sophomore record, After the Snow (1981), including the commercially prevalent number “I Melt With You,” long embraced by music lovers who don’t even know Modern English. Indeed, the group closed their Zebulon set with the number, drawing it out with some droll banter as Robbie encouraged the audience to singalong the chorus first in British accents and then in American accents.

The inexhaustible band also includes founding members Gary McDowell (guitar), Michael Conroy (bass), and Stephen Walker (keyboard) as well as longtime drummer Roy Martin. The gents very much came together as a unit that merrily thumped their way through an extremely well-crafted set of songs, including the powerful and highly regarded “Hands Across the Sea,” from Ricochet Days (1984).

Modern English’s set at Cruel World the next day included a subset of these songs; the band opened with “16 Days” and closed with “I Melt With You,” of course. They also played highlights “Someone’s Calling” and “Hands Across the Sea.”

On June 4, Modern English have sold out two shows at The Atlantis in DC — one around 5pm and another around 8pm that day. When they visit the area in recent years, they usually perform at The Birchmere, where they always receive a hero’s welcome in Alexandria, Virginia. But it will be very cool to see them inside DC city for the first time in quite a few years. Get ready for a band in top shape, still achieving fantastic goals.

Here are some photos of Modern English performing at Zebulon on May 19, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Ben Eisendrath.



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