Young Modern: Vintage Adelaide Band Ride Again


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  • Tuesday, 08 August 2017 15:18
Published in Music  
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Young Modern: Vintage Adelaide Band Ride Again
 Image © Eric Algra
There’s seems to be a rock renaissance underway in Adelaide, with ‘70s and ‘80s-era groups like Young Modern experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

Together for just three years between 1977 and 1980, Young Modern were a post-punk pop band heavily influenced by ‘60s British groups like The Who and The Beatles. Fronted by vocalist John Dowler, Young Modern return to the stage this month in their home town for a concert with fellow Adelaide bands Dust Collection and Safari Set.

“We’re covering three decades of nostalgia,” John says of the concert. “I got this vibe that there’s a real heritage thing that’s happening, people are really proud of South Australian music and I think this slots into that a bit you know. It’s a very small scene there, but it’s also a very vital scene.”


In their three years together, Young Modern established a musical legacy that follows them to this day. Their first LP, ‘Play Faster’, was released in 1980 after their break-up and reissued on CD in 2005 that led to a renewed interest in the band. “We were called power-pop at the time,” John says.

“I never really considered us power-pop, but that was the label to have because people latched on to it. It was a short way of describing what we were doing.”

The concert with Dust Collection and Safari Set brings together three Adelaide pop bands that rocked the city in the ‘70s and ‘80s at a time when pub rock ruled. “I think we’re all quite complementary music-wise,” John says.

“There’s a strong ‘60s influence, there’s a lot of melody and fairly powerful music as well. We’ll get three generations of music fans cramming into a music venue and not getting along at all,” he laughs.

This isn’t the first time Young Modern have reformed, having done so to record another album ‘How Insensitive’ in 2006 and ‘Live From The Grace Emily’ in 2011. John says the upcoming show will feature a number of songs they’ve not played live before.


“Basically we’ve got three albums worth of material to draw on now, so what we’re going to do this time is try to play a lot of the songs we haven't played before. At least a third of the set will be songs people haven’t heard the last two times we’ve played.

“And because we live in separate places it’s not like we’re hanging out writing songs all the time. We’re basically going back to the original pool of songs and just cherry-picking the ones we know the crowd like then stick in some unusual ones they may not have heard since we first wrote them.”

John is hoping to relive some of the magic of their heyday and reconnect with old fans at the show. “Young Modern were always a good-vibe band and there was never any aggro at our gigs; around about ’77 and ‘78 you couldn’t say that about a lot of bands,” he says.

“We were right in the middle of the punk scene, we had a residency at the Tivoli Hotel every Saturday night; we used to play there starting a one in the morning and play till three.

“They were magical nights. People would turn up from other gigs half-pissed and it was a really fantastic sort of vibe. 1978 was our year for Adelaide.”

Young Modern perform at The Gov (Adelaide) 25 August.

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