Music Reviews

“Fun, If Not Particularly Refined”- Live Review: modernlove. @ Rough Trade

Matthew Gaskins

Fresh from their debut tour of North America in March, the youthful indie-pop band modernlove., travelled to yet another new venue to serenade fans with their freshly released and critically acclaimed EP, ‘Nightlife’. Matthew Gaskins reviews.

Rough Trade in Nottingham represented the Irish quartet’s latest staging post, a much shorter distance from the band’s hometown of Drogheda. Modernlove.’s first performance live in Nottingham was highly anticipated, and Head of Reviews, Hannah, worked magic to arrange a late ticket, given the gig sold-out several months ago.

My arrival at the venue was perfectly timed, as I was met mid-first-song by the melodic tones of support artist Lizzie Esau, who is accompanying modernlove. for the remainder of their latest UK tour. Crowd interest in the support was strong, and my desire to see Lizzie and her band came at a cost – whilst craning my neck around the archway at the back of Rough Trade, I whacked my head against the brickwork.

My friend described Lizzie’s voice as “gentle and in places biblical”

Fortunately, Lizzie soon shepherded the crowd closer to the main stage, and I was able to watch her perform unreleased hits Formidable and Roadkill from close quarters. At this stage, my friend described Lizzie’s voice as “gentle and in places biblical”. However, I was more impressed by her punkier songs towards the end of the performance, namely recent hit Jellyfish, which demonstrates Lizzie’s capability to excel across a breadth of genres. After warm if not particularly energetic applause, Lizzie departed the stage, which was shortly instead occupied by the main act of the evening – modernlove..

Beginning with one of their recent singles, until my heart stops beating, modernlove continued to showcase the more traditional indie elements of this indie-pop band with Don’t Wanna, with shades of The Wombats.

A wall of noise

As the set progressed, the synth backing sound increasingly began to dominate, and lead singer Barry Lally’s poppy vocals were sometimes obscured amidst a wall of noise within Rough Trade. This did not seem to put off the crowd though, who became particularly involved, singing along with Only Ever Only You. My personal favourite was next up–2 Missed Calls, and this failed to disappoint, with the darker lyricism at odds with the general upbeat nature of the performance.

Amongst a few technical glitches, with bass guitarist and noted Garage Band expert Danny Rooney’s laptop struggling to cope with the excitement, modern love.’s energy remained formidable – particularly impressive given the remarkable heat of the venue for a damp Wednesday evening in April.

Readily listenable music that cannot fail to improve your mood

Whilst modernlove. do not provide a completely unique sound, distinct from other bands in the genre, they produce readily listenable music that cannot fail to improve your mood, which surely has an important place within indiepop. After further songs from ‘Nightlife’, two of modernlove.’s most popular hits rounded out the evening- following a somewhat chaotic Liquorice came Follow You, which represents the highest streamed song from the band’s previous EP.

And with that, modern love.’s first visit to Nottingham was over. After a quick word with Trippy, Lizzie Esau’s bassist, it was back into a surprisingly quiet Nottingham evening to reflect upon a fun, if not particularly refined, gig, at the nearby Taco Bell. Food mimicking art, perhaps – not the most inventive, yet extremely enjoyable!


Matthew Gaskins

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @modernlove_band via No changes were made to these images.

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