By Mike McKenney, Rock At Night New England
Live Review: The Motels with The Benji’s-The Greenwich Odeum, East Greenwich, Rhode Island-Thursday September 17, 2021
Throughout the 80’s New Wave movement, it was impossible to listen to FM radio or MTV without hearing The Motels. Led by singer Martha Davis’s smokey hot vocals, the band from Berkeley, Calif., climbed the charts with 1982′s “Only the Lonely,” which hit number nine on the Top 100 singles.
The Motels have undergone many incarnations, even disbanding in 1987, and reappearing as ’The Motels featuring Martha Davis” in 1998 with some new members. The band continues to morph with today’s lineup of Martha Davis (vocals, guitar), Eric Gardner (drums), Clint Walsh (guitar), Nick Johns (bass), and founding member Marty Jourard on keyboards and a hellacious saxophone.
With a crowd of loyal devoted fans in attendance, The Motels were impressive, adding an edgy feel to their iconic New Wave style. Marty Jourard’s sax stands right up against the shredding guitars, while Martha Davis’s voice is smooth, seductive, and powerful, never wavering on “Tipping Point”, “So L.A.”, and “Closets and Bullets”. Her standout performance of “Take The L”, was full of anguish and angst while “Punchline” and “Suddenly Last Summer” got more than a few fans off their seats.
“Danger”, “Total Control”, and “Cry Baby” were all well received, while The Motels 1982 megahit “Only The Lonely” was clearly the fan favorite of the night.
Closing out with the title track from the new album “Last Few Beautiful Days”, Martha Davis began by waltzing around the stage, while the music built up until the band was all out jamming , at one point Marty Jourard dismantled his sax, playing just a screaming mouth piece into the mic to match Walsh’s soaring guitar, ending a great night of memorable music performed by the quintessential New Wave icons.
Openers “The Benji’s” got the night started off right, rocking hard as the audience trickled in. Maryssa Morse (vocals, synth bass), Philip Geronimo (guitar, vocals) bring their indie/punk sound from L.A.’s East Side. Now based in Rhode Island, they have teamed up with former “Riverdales” drummer Adam Cargin.
The Benji’s are an exciting live band, winners of the 2019 Motif Music’s “Favorite Breakthrough Rock Act” Award, The Benji’s punk, powerful, in your face style plays well with Morse’s smooth vocals as evident on “Kitty Pills”, Skate, and “Close My Ears”.
Their EP, aptly named “EP1” is available on all streaming services, and you can check them out live as the open for The Figgs at Providence’s The Parlour on 12/11.
Partial Set List:
Mission of Mercy
Take the L
Suddenly Last Summer
Closets and Bullets
Only the Lonely
Last Few Beautiful Days
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