The “Spirit of the 80s” is back at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at The Ontario House, aka “The Stone Jug,” 358 Main St., Youngstown. Tickets are $25 presale and online at Eventbrite.com, or $30 at the door.
The yearly event is making up for lost time, having been on hiatus since bringing Mike Peters and The Alarm to Lewiston in 2018. Organizers Mike Hanrahan and Michelle Hosie planned to take one year off to regroup, but the break was extended due to the pandemic.
Earlier this summer, “Spirit of the 80s” brought synth-pop legends China Crisis to “The Jug.” The success of that show has Hanrahan looking forward to bringing more shows to the newly renovated outdoor stage.
"We've got lots of plans for more shows,” he said. “We loved having the shows at Academy Park, but the change of venue opens up more opportunities for us."
British post-punk/new-wave/alt-indie rock band Modern English is best known for worldwide hit "I Melt With You." The song was featured in the 1983 film “ Valley Girl,” and was played frequently on MTV (it still lives on in any 1980s music retrospective). The song has been featured recently in television shows such as “Stranger Things” and “The Deuce,” and prominently closed the series finale of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.”
But this group is far from a one-hit-wonder.
Modern English began recording in 1979 and released several albums. There were some changes – and members even disbanded for a while – but the original cast reunited in 2009 and has been recording and touring together ever since.
“After The Snow” was the band’s second – and arguably most successful – studio album. It spawned three singles, originally recorded in 1982. The group released a live version of the entire album last year, and has been touring those songs of late, as well as some favorite songs.
"We were lucky to get them at the end of their tour, before they take a break again," Hanrahan said.
Along with members of the Lewiston-Porter Class of 1987, he started this event 10 years ago with the intention of celebrating the music classmates loved in high school – and to celebrate the class’ 25-year reunion. “Spirit of the 80s” soon became a vehicle for supporting new music.
“We've got a couple of opening acts this year from Buffalo that we're really excited about," Hanrahan said.
Tim Britt will play solo at 5 p.m. The singer describes himself as “a one-man band with lots of energy." Singing, playing percussive guitar and using loops to create an "upbeat bluesy" style. He has been winning Buffalo music awards for over 10 years.
At 7 p.m., “Spirit of the 80s” welcomes The Abruptors to the stage. This act brings a blend of ska, soul, rocksteady and reggae. With their influences going back to ’50s and ’60s ska, their catchy sound is said to appeal to a wide range of fans from 2 Tone to The Clash. The band is a mix of three guys and a couple of premier female musicians. Members have toured the U.S. and Canada, promoting a recently released album. Their latest music video was released this week.
Hanrahan said, "I was so glad to get this band; I think they're going to get big! The night before our show, they're opening for Sublime."
Music & Memories
Organizers said, “Nostalgia may play a small role in bringing people together for events like this, but what keeps people together is the music itself.
Philip Hastings, a member of the Class of 1987, said, “These events are a celebration of that bond – it's a celebration of growth and acceptance in the wake of adversity. That's what the ‘Spirit of the 80s’ is all about. Thanks to Mike and Michelle, we get to celebrate that with Modern English who wrote 'I thought of all the times gone by, and laughed aloud at the crimson sky.’ That's the unbeatable spirit of our generation – and that’s what we’re celebrating with every show.”
Organizers added, “These events would not be possible without the support of our friends, family and these generous sponsors: Niagara Outfitters, The Tatler Inn, TM Montante Development, and Bison Logo.”