The Monochrome Set was among the British bands that had some name recognition during the new wave movement. Formed in London in 1978, the group gathered a cult following but never attained major league success, and so split up and reformed several times in the ensuing years. The band recorded its 10th album last year, Platinum Coils, and prepared for an East Coast tour. The present lineup consists of original members Bid (guitar, vocals) and Lester Square (guitar), with Andy Warren (bass) and Steve Brummell (drums). Prior to the show tonight at the Bowery Electric, the Monochrome Set last played in New York at the Ritz in December 1982.
Did anyone notice over all these years that the Monochrome Set was missing in action? I did not. I went to tonight’s show not remembering anything about the band beyond its name. Upon listening to the live performance at Bowery Electric, I realized why I had forgotten. At times the band sounded like a band playing soft versions of 1960s mod pop music (like the Who, the Jam or the Fall). Other times the quirky, wordy guitar pop had a twangy, mopey sound (like the Smiths or the Cure). For me, it just did not click. If you like that kind of music, the Monochrome Set will perform as part of the NYC PopFest at the Knitting Factory on May 31.