Sigma LXXXV Tour 2019
The anticipation of seeing The Alarm, Modern English and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel grew throughout the days leading up to the nearly sold-out concert Monday night at Delmar Hall in St. Louis. So much so that I rewatched the classic ’80s new wave movie Valley Girl over the weekend and listened to selections from all three bands nonstop recalling many fond memories of years past and finding appreciation for newer music from all three bands. Just because people age doesn’t mean their creativity — and in the case of Monday night — energy wanes; it does, however, inevitably shift and flow.
The mini British invasion night kicked off with a short half-hour set from Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. At one point Aston noted he could only highlight one or two songs from past albums. He picked a stellar selection worthy of any mixtape that included the powerful “Twenty Killer Hurts” from The House of Dolls to the sweet, slow power ballad “How Do You Say Goodbye (To Someone You Love)” off the newest album Dance Underwater. Other songs included “Jealous,” “Motion of Love,” and “Desire (Come and Get It).” Bathed in mostly blue and purple hues throughout the set, Aston invigorated the crowd early on with his dance moves.
A special treat throughout the night included the friendly banter in between bands of kilt-wearing Gareth Jones, also known as Gaz Top, who did his research and pumped up the growing crowd at one point by saying “Rock ’n’ Roll exists — these bands exist — because of St. Louis. Because of Chuck Berry.”
Modern English took to the stage next. And while frontman Robbie Grey may now sport a head of silver hair and Gary McDowell has a few (okay a lot) more tattoos than they had when they first formed in 1979, the sound that washed over you during their hour-long set was just as pure and powerful as it always has been. Grey prodded the audience into being present in the moment at one point by saying “passion on the stage comes from the audience” hoping for more interaction and movement which he got “feels nice,” he said.
Songs included “Tables Turning,” “After the Snow,” “Trees,” “Hands Across the Sea,” and “Gathering Dust.” They closed their set with the single that put them on the charts but kept fans coming back for more of their dreamy, new wave sound “I Melt With You,” during which Grey turned the mic toward the crowd allowing them to sing the majority of the iconic song.
Headliners The Alarm came on strong kicking off their 80-minute set with “Blood Red Viral Black” the new single off their June-released album Sigma, which debuted at number 46 in the UK — no small feat for this Welsh alt-rock/new wave band going on 38 years in the industry.
The high-energy continued throughout the night with Mike Peters running between the three mics positioned across the stage that were all for him belting out favorites including “Peace Now,” Rescue Me,” “Sold Me Down the River,” and “Strength.” He not only came into the crowd on the floor he snaked his way through the entirety of the room at Delmar Hall and back eliciting cheers and shouts of every single fan in attendance. Toward the end of “Rain in the Summertime,” Peters spewed an impressive spray of water at the crowd.
“This band wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t seen the Sex Pistols. The negativity of Johnny Rotten and the energy of Joe Strummer [of The Clash] is what born The Alarm,” Peters told us before segueing into “Spirit of ’76.”
After a brief pause, they ended their rockin’, powerful show with “Two Rivers” from their 2017 Viral Black album.
Go see more live music coming up in St. Louis at Delmar Hall.