Live Review: Echo & the Bunnymen @ Lincoln Theatre — 9/17/22

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Echo & the Bunnymen perform at the Lincoln Theatre on Sept. 17, 2022. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)

Echo & the Bunnymen were inevitable.

By the late ’70s, electronic instruments had become more widely available, fueling a rise of experimentation in UK cities like London, Manchester, and Liverpool. Inspired by the DIY ethos of the Sex Pistols, many bands picked up these instruments and started creating.

But in Liverpool, Ian McCuloch and Will Sergeant were admirers of The Velvet Underground and the Doors, two psychedelic bands fronted by Americans. Once those bands had recorded, Echo & the Bunnymen were going to happen regardless of flashy keyboards or electronic drum machines. Their American musical roots perhaps explain why the duo still today gets the earnest rock star treatment from packed houses and eager audiences.

Ian, Will, and their touring bandmates once again received a recent hero’s welcome in DC in a sold-out performance at the Lincoln Theatre.

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Live Review: Modern English @ The Birchmere — 9/14/22

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Modern English performs at The Birchmere on Sept. 14, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Modern English visited The Birchmere recently to play through their album After the Snow in its entirety, in tracklist order.

Well, they didn’t play *the one song* everyone wanted to hear in the tracklist, saving it for the end of the show. “Half of you would bugger off home” after Modern English performed “Melt With You,” in the estimation of frontman Robbie Grey.

As it turned out, no one in the very full concert hall wanted to be anywhere else other than fully immersed in the atmospheric brilliance of a very sharp collection of pop songs. Dancing broke out in front of the stage and in the aisles.

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Live Review: Arlo Parks @ 9:30 Club — 9/12/22

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Arlo Parks performs at 9:30 Club on Sept. 12, 2022. (Photo by Katie Child)

Arlo Parks is an idol to many. Her tendency to inspire, in combination with her often painfully relatable lyricism, Parks is the spitting image of what many of us aim to “grow up” to become.

A ray of sunshine through and through, Parks’ tour was not one to pass up. Coupled with the lovable crowd of DMV natives that she brought out for her show, Arlo lit up the 9:30 Club for two nights last week with a sense of warmth and comfort that we already miss.

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Preview: Pet Shop Boys and New Order @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 9/21/22

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Pet Shop Boys (Photo by Phil Fisk)

Pet Shop Boys and New Order’s long-awaited joint The Unity Tour kicks off in North American tonight and then stops at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Both bands alternate as opening and closing acts throughout the co-headline tour, with Paul Oakenfold playing a special DJ set before each act.

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Live Review: IDLES @ The Anthem — 9/14/22

IDLES perform at The Anthem on Sept. 14, 2022. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson / @kgustafson)

Are IDLES the hardest working band in show business? 140 shows in 2018, 119 in 2019, 48 in post-pandemic 2021, and 91 and counting so far in 2022. They’ve played DC proper six times since 2019 (seven if you count their Tiny Desk appearance) and released two albums in that time. This is a band that’s always on the move.

Their live show is still electric and they show no signs of slowing down. After seeing them absolutely destroy the Rock n Roll Hotel in 2019 I wondered how they’d do at a place as large as The Anthem. As seen at The Anthem recently, basically the only change was there were now a lot more people going bananas during the punk bit at the end of show opener “Colossus.”

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Interview: Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 (@ The Birchmere, 9/25/22)

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Heaven 17 with Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware (right) (Photo by Chris Youd)

In the early days of pop electronic music, Martyn Ware was full of big ideas in Sheffield, England. He teamed up with vocalist Phil Oakey to establish the original incarnation of The Human League. The band revamped after two studio albums, and Martyn and collaborator Ian Craig Marsh moved on to form Heaven 17 with singer Glenn Gregory.

Full of sophistication and soul, Heaven 17 (named for a fictitious band referenced in A Clockwork Orange) became UK chart fixtures from 1981-1986, releasing acclaimed albums such as debut Penthouse and Pavement, UK platinum record The Luxury Gap, and more. Their songs “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” “The Height of the Fighting (He-La-Hu),” “Let Me Go,” and “Temptation,” among others, remain in heavy rotation on satellite radio and the internet.

Heaven 17 never toured until 1997, and the band never mounted a full USA tour. That is about to change as Martyn and Glenn lead a Heaven 17 Tour starting tonight, Sept. 16, in New York. The tour hits the DC metro area at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter chatted with synthesist Martyn Ware about this long-awaited US tour, his autobiography and podcast, and what’s next for Heaven 17. He was, as you would expect, warm, witty, and welcoming.

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Live Review: Roxy Music w/ St. Vincent @ Capital One Arena — 9/9/22

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Guitarist Phil Manzanera, Drummer Paul Thompson, and vocalist Bryan Ferry perform as Roxy Music at Capital One Arena on Sept. 9, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Fifty years ago, glam rockers Roxy Music released their self-titled debut album, shifting the tide of pop music in the United Kingdom certainly and eventually elevating the sophistication of the modern musical conversation globally.

Never particularly chart toppers in the United States, Roxy Music nonetheless have embarked on an entirely spectacular if slightly surprising 50th-anniversary tour of our country. During the band’s recent performance at Capital One Arena, frontman Bryan Ferry referenced their longevity, saying it was challenging to sort songs from a long career when mounting a retrospective show.

“But we had to do this one from our first album,” Ferry said, introducing “If There Is Something.”

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Live Review: Spiritualized @ 9:30 Club — 9/8/22

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Spiritualized perform at 9:30 Club on Sept. 8, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

The creation of art in an attempt to connect to people is the most primal urge in pop music, I think. Even those of us who don’t create but consume mill about in the mix, hoping to feel that connection with other folks thanks to the work of the artist. We hope some of that art will wash over us and provide relief in the form of connection.

Spiritualized, the wonderfully English psychedelic rock outfit fronted by Jason Pierce, deal with this phenomenon head-on in a beautiful new song called “Let It Bleed (for Iggy).” It was one of four new songs the space rockers presented in a recent show at 9:30 Club.

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Live Review: Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band @ Lyric Opera House — 9/6/22

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band bring peace and love to the Lyric Opera House on Sept. 6, 2022. (Photo by David LaMason)

Peace and love and, well, rock ‘n roll. That is what was served up Tuesday night at the first night of two completely sold-out performances by Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore. After some pandemic-related postponements, the Beatle, drummer, singer, and showman, Ringo Starr arrived just in time to push away the rain clouds that gathered in the early evening and bring some sunshine to Charm City.

I hadn’t seen a rock performance at the Lyric before, so this was a new experience for me, but as fans poured into the hall the care that the opera house had put into making this a memorable event was apparent. From the concessions to the staff directing the the crowd, it made for a comfortable place.

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