The lovely Sarah Cracknell took to the very crowded stage at U Street Music Hall to coo gentle reproaches and remembrances to a respectfully full house last week, rekindling our romance with the sublime UK synthpop trio Saint Etienne.
Saint Etienne released their latest album Home Counties on June 2 via Heavenly Recordings, and the English synthpop trio will launch a US tour in Boston on Sept. 24, arriving in DC several days later to perform at U Street Music Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
After a few songs at 9:30 Club on Sunday night, Vérité turned to a much anticipated cover.
“I didn’t write this one,” Vérité said with a smile to a pretty full house, gathering to see her and Betty Who in a sold-out show that night. She then launched into her cover of “Somebody Else” by the 1975.
I’m amazed to report that tickets are still available for tomorrow’s concert by Spandau Ballet at the 9:30 Club!
The Soul Boys of the Western World (to borrow the title of a new documentary about them) began the latest leg of their U.S. tour in Chicago on Saturday, April 25. Tonight, they perform in Toronto before returning to the United States Tuesday, April 28, for their show at the 9:30 Club. The reinvigorated quintet have been tearing up the concert circuit, earning great reviews, and generally wowing audiences with strong performances.
Their setlist at the House of Blues in Chicago on Saturday included new songs like “This Is the Love” as well as old favorites like “Chant No. 1,” “To Cut a Long Story Short,” “Gold” and of course “True.”
After Spandau Ballet leave DC, they will go to New York City Wednesday to host a special Q&A about their documentary, Soul Boys of the Western World, at the IFC Center in Manhattan. Although it doesn’t have a DC date, Soul Boys of the Western World will play around the country and be available for download through iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and YouTube, as well as other platforms, on Wednesday, April 29.
Listen to the bandmates in Spandau Ballet talk about touring the United States and other subjects in a clip from the U.K. interview show “Loose Women”:
And here’s a full show from London in 2009, the year the band reunited after being apart for about 19 years:
If you need more fuel in your fire to see the band, check out our brief recap of Spandau Ballet’s history. We were absolutely chuffed that the 9:30 Club linked to it in its weekly newsletter last week!
Tuesday, April 28
The song “Party Professionals” moves with a little bit of a faster cadence than the typical number by Martha Davis and The Motels, but otherwise it captures a lot of the essence of the band.
Ms. Davis sashays onto the stage and breaks into its celebratory lyrics, which include refrains like, “And we will dance/’Til the dawn’s early light/And I will drink to you/And you to I.”
In a musical interlude, Marty Jourard, the band’s other remaining original member, takes to the saxophone for an extended solo that leaves the audience feeling quite romantically wistful during a performance of the song, which opened a show at The Hamilton Live in DC on Tuesday night.
Marty has a penchant for writing sad, romantic songs like “Take the L,” from the band’s third album “All Four One,” which comes up later in the set. “Take the L” is representative of the kind of wordplay for which both Marty and Martha have an affinity as she croons, “Take the L out of ‘lover’ and it’s ‘ooooooover.’”
And of course nostalgia for lost love is a regular visitor to the lyrics of The Motels, whose signature songs include “Suddenly Last Summer” (which they hit early in the show) and “Only the Lonely” (which appeared in the encore), both written by Martha. The Motels hit perfect notes of sophistipop in these numbers, effortlessly blending calypso, blues, rock, jazz and new wave (certainly a genre that initially gave Martha a lot of inspiration when starting out).
In 1979, Martha Davis launched The Motels from California with sultry, catchy songs like “Total Control,” and then charged into a prolific period of seven albums over the ensuing decade, each demonstrating a penchant for fresh rhythms and clever wordplay.
In recent years, Ms. Davis has reformed a version of her band and took to the road, appearing in the extended DC metro area back in 2013 as part of a “Totally 80s Summer Tour” in Leesburg, Va. Now, Martha Davis and The Motels are here headlining tonight at the Hamilton (600 14th St. NW, DC) in what promises to be an absorbing show.
Watch a performance of “Total Control” below:
I reviewed the performance by The Motels in 2013 for We Love DC, noting that the full set that included classics like “Danger,” “Little Robbers,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Only the Lonely.”
It was reinvigorating to hear Davis revisit her catalog, particularly the lush but maudlin “Suddenly Last Summer.” Her voice sounded timeless, and she’s handily evaded the fate that befell some of her contemporaries who don’t sound quite the same as they once did. With Davis, I could close my eyes and it was exactly as if I were listening to her on the radio 30 years ago.
I added, “The band has good chemistry and a big, full sound that casually slides in around Davis’ sultry vocals without ever threatening to overwhelm them. They are a good combination, and Davis has suggested the lineup will make an album, which could be a very good thing.”
So join them tonight at the Hamilton for the “Suddenly This Spring Tour 2015,” where they are certain to entertain.
Tickets are available online and at the venue. Greg Hawkes, best known for being the keyboard player of The Cars, opens for Martha Davis and The Motels