Save Our Stages: The Alarm, Modern English, Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel at the Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, 8/2/19

During this period of historic uncertainty, the fight for the survival of our independent record stores is directly mirrored by the dark stages of our local independent theatres, clubs, and performance spaces which have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been cited as well that 90% of these concert venues may never, ever return.

Enter the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) whose #SaveOurStages campaign has provided a spotlight on this perilous predicament with a unique mission to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” Without help from Congress the predictions are indeed quite dire and TVD encourages you support the S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, by telling your legislators to save independent music venues via the form that can be filled out and forwarded right here.

This week and next we’ll be turning our own spotlight onto previous live concert coverage as a reminder of the need to preserve the vitality of live music venues across the country—and indeed across the globe—and while we’re at it to celebrate the work of the fine photographers and writers at TVD who are all itching to get back into the pit. 

The Alarm are on the road for their “Sigma LXXXV” Tour along with Modern English and Gene Loves Jezebel (the Jay Aston incarnation) in support of their June, 2019 release, Sigma. The ’80s throwback lineup brought the expected middle-agers for a Friday night set at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom for what would prove to be much more than an evening of nostalgia.

Gene Loves Jezebel kicked off the evening with a 40 minute set of their classics that got the San Francisco crowd moving to their hits such as “Heartache,” “Break the Chain,” and “Desire” as a surprisingly youthful Jay Aston bounced around the stage.

Next up, the legendary Modern English, best known for their 1982 album, After the Snow, but certainly active in the years since with several original members. As a band that’s at risk of being labeled a one-hit-wonder, Modern English’s setlist covered their entire catalog before finally pulling out “that song” … you know the one that everyone’s waiting to hear … at which point frontman Robbie Grey implored the crowd to “put down your fucking phone,” with little impact as the crowd sang along.

The Alarm’s first US show ever was opening for U2 at the Bill Graham Civic and they have been back many times since. It was not surprising, then, when Mike Peters and the band took the stage, they were met with a warm welcome from the San Francisco fans.

Launching right into “Blood Red Viral Black,” the band wasted no time sharing the new material which the crowd was clearly already familiar with, but “The Stand” really got things moving. The uninitiated quickly learned that those three microphones set up along the front of the stage were all for Mike, as he dashed between them without missing a lyric.

For those paying attention, there was James Stevenson mostly hanging in the back on bass as he pulled double-duty with both Gene Loves Jezebel as well as The Alarm, looking and sounding no worse the wear from his opening set.

Far from a nostalgia act, The Alarm’s setlist hit all the high notes from their prolific career but likely leaving the crowd wishing that there had been more time to go deep. Alas there was not, but closing the evening with classics “Spirit of ’76” and “Sixty Eight Guns” still left the fans satisfied.

JAY ASTON’S GENE LOVES JEZEBEL

MODERN ENGLISH

THE ALARM

THE ALARM SETLIST
Blood Red Viral Black
The Stand
Peace Now
Rescue Me
Brighter Than the Sun
Knife Edge
Sold Me Down the River
Psalm
Neutral
Strength
Rain in the Summertime

ENCORE
Everything is Beautiful
Spirit of ’76
Sixty Eight Guns

MODERN ENGLISH SETLIST
Swans on Glass
Someone’s Calling
Tables Turning
After the Snow
Moonbeam
Trees
Hands Across the Sea
Gathering Dust
I Melt With You

GENE LOVES JEZEBEL SETLIST
Twenty Killer Hurts
How Do You Say Goodbye (To Someone You Love)
Heartache
Bruises
Jealous
The Motion of Love
Break the Chain
Desire (Come and Get It)

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