17th December 2022

Modern Marriage at Round the Corner | Review and Interview

Modern Marriage delivered an explosive set at Round The Corner, full of catchy songs delivered to a room of fans that chanted every word. Afterwards, frontman Ben Savage sat down with me, to reflect on the set and expectations for the future.

Modern Marriage at Round The Corner 15/12/2022.

It is a cosy room decorated with antiques and interesting wall art, located in the regeneration area behind London Road. The room has an intimate feel and holds around 100 people, which is perfect for up-and-coming bands. It is minus 5 degrees outside and the band is wrapped up accordingly, with bassist Lewis Hall in a lumberjack hat and frontman Ben Savage in a Tranmere Rovers scarf and corduroy blazer. When Modern Marriage jump on stage, the room is already packed full of expectant fans. The band does not disappoint.

They open their set with Gerry and His Pacemaker, a jangly tune played with a 12-string Rickenbacker. Whilst also a name-check to the 60’s Merseybeat group, Ben tells me the song is actually a tribute to an acquaintance of his. “The titular Gerry isn’t Mr Marsden, he’s a lovely bloke in his late 80’s who used to play the banjolele around many of the Wirral’s pubs. I’d often get him up on stage in my band’s mid-set interval and accompany him on the drums to haphazard renditions of When I’m Cleaning Windows. Anyhow, Gerry is retired from that sort of shenanigans nowadays, so I honoured him in song.” 

The second song of the night is Blue, Red, Yellow… Maybe, which is a bright and catchy song reminiscent of 90’s Britpop. However, whilst nodding along, I pick out some unusual lyrics and decide to ask about them afterwards. “It was a calculated attempt to write a song that is melodically sweet and serves as a nice bit of ear candy. However, if you dig a bit deeper, the song is clearly about a stalker. A fairly obvious homage to Every Breath You Take,” he tells me. 

Grim Up North makes the whole crowd sway from side to side with Danny Johnson’s catchy drumbeat. Ben’s voice becomes grittier, a contrast to the sweetness and smoothness of the previous song. But it is The Ballad of Kenny the Ticketman that gets the crowd going, with most of the room singing along, making it a clear fan favourite. This is impressive for an unsigned band still awaiting the release of their debut single. “Recording has been progressing steadily for the last six months. We’ve got an album’s worth of stuff pretty much ready to go. If any labels fancy jumping on an unsigned band with an album ready for release, give us a call!” he laughs. “Our first single will be out in the spring, once the video’s done”.

Modern Marriage combines a great number of influences to make its own unique sound. You can hear a bit of Britpop, a touch of 80s indie, mixed in with a good amount of 70s jangly power-pop, and a dash of punk. When asked about his biggest songwriting inspirations, Ben takes a moment then says “John Lennon, Big Star, Half Man Half Biscuit, Captain Beefheart, an unhealthily large amount of obscure 60’s pop, power pop bands nobody’s heard of, and stuff that makes me laugh. I like great melodies tied in with witty lyrics.”

Speke Now has a mesmerising, almost psychedelic intro. This quickly transforms into a heavy and catchy tune, with again most of the crowd singing the chorus. After this, we have the first and only ballad of the night, Drowning in Shallow Waters. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song, aided again by the 12-string guitar and Lewis’ prominent bass runs. 

Once the band finish their planned set, fans (and the sound technician) are quick to start enthusiastically chanting for more. They end up playing the eponymous Modern Marriage and the heavier tune Lobster Pot. With the latter, the room spirals into chaos, with audience members singing and dancing along. In this last song, Ben descends into the world of local politics. “I wrote this song as a quick rant about the former mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and his alleged illicit dealings whilst in office. I turned up and presented to the band upon first meeting them. One problem: I was completely unaware that the band’s original singer’s name was… Joe Anderson. Sorry, Joe!” he tells me. 

It was an amazing night and I am looking forward to seeing them again next time. Their next performance is at HMV Liverpool on the 3rd of June. You can watch out on their instagram for any additional news.