All-star Melbourne gig celebrates powerpop's beginnings

YoungerThanNowSmallAustralia has produced a number of fine powerpop bands over the years. One of the first – the very first according to US bible Bomp! Magazine – was Adelaide’s Young Modern. One of the most successful has been Even.

The link between both bands will be underlined by a special show in Melbourne on December 9, where Young Modern will team with Even's Ashley Naylor and one of his other bands, The Triad.

Young Modern will be celebrating 40 years, while Naylor and The Triad will salute mutual influence The Byrds.


Young Modern debuted in Adelaide – supporting Radio Birdman – in 1977. The band was formed by singer John Dowler, a seminal figure who's been talking about Big Star since the '70s.

Dowler's first band, Spare Change, was probably the first Australian band to perform material by The Velvet Underground, John Cale and Sparks - and even early Bruce Springsteen. Spare Change had an impact on mid-‘70s Melbourne and other members of the band went on to play with Paul Kelly and Icehouse.  

Young Modern built up a fan base in Melbourne too, and their single “She’s Got The Money”/Automatic”, produced by the Sports’ Stephen Cummings, was an early staple on a nascent 3RRR-FM.



Young Modern quickly outgrew Adelaide and moved to Sydney under the auspices of the same management as the Angels and Cold Chisel but failed to live up to their early promise. They made an impression though - the Sunnyboys would later acknowledge their influence - and their legacy was enshrined in the wonderful posthumous album “Play Faster” (which was reissued in 2005.) 


A regrouping in 2007 produced another album “How Insensitive”, and a subsequent live appearance in Adelaide resulted in the career encapsulating live album “Live At the Grace Emily 22.12.2010”. The band regrouped for a 40th Anniversary Adelaide show in August of this year, and is set to now give Melbourne the same rare treat.



Young Modern’s sound – an amalgam of classic mid-60s Byrds/Beatles/Stones sounds, beautifully jangling guitars and superbly crafted songs – will no doubt find favour with a younger generation of fans who grew up seeing Ash Naylor play around town with his fantastic guitar pop group Even.  


Even, who themselves last year celebrated the 20th anniversary of their debut album “Less Is More”, are long time Melbourne standard bearers of all things classic ‘60s and '70s pop. Lynchpin Ash Naylor first conceived of the "Younger Than Yesterday” show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic Byrds' album for a performance at Flying Saucer in Melbourne in August.

To make a full show of it they - Ash named the band he assembled The Triad, after a controversial David Crosby song that was left off The Byrds' 1968 album "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" -  tagged on a bunch of other Byrds’ favourites, and this reprise performance with feature a good portion of "Younger Than Yesterday" together with those other faves.

Ashley Naylor & The Triad are regrouping following Ash's arrival home from a US tour with Paul Kelly (he has also played alongside Tim Finn and Stephen Cummings, and has been a member of the Rockwiz Orchestra since 2015, and a member of The Stems since 2010). 

Joining Ash in the group again are Rick Plant (ex-pat Nashville guitarist, who has played with Americans including Buddy Miller of Emmylou Harris fame), Matt Palmer (Carousel, The Youngsters, Raw Nerves) and Michael Barclay (Livingstone Daisies, Weddings Parties Anything and former Paul Kelly & the Coloured Girls drummer). 



Neatly connecting Triad's line-up with Young Modern, Barclay played in the early '80s with John Dowler’s great band of the time, the Zimmermen, whose indie-hit single (and classic jangler)  “Don’t Go To Sydney” now features in Young Modern’s set..

The sound that the Byrds developed may have been ubiquitous in guitar pop and power pop over the years, but it’s a rare treat for pop lovers to hear it done as well as it will be done on the evening of December 9 at the Flying Saucer Club. If you love that jingle-jangle “Younger Than That Now” is a night not to be missed.

When: Saturday 9 December 2017
Doors: 6pm (Seats/Dining), 8pm (GA) - Showtime: 8.40pm
Where: THE FLYING SAUCER CLUB - 4 St Georges Road, Elsternwick
Tickets here

Tags: young modern, even, ash naylor, john dowler, byrds

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