Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: The Monochrome Set

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The Monochrome Set | Photo by Eric Schuman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a band that, without exaggeration, is the most influential group we’ve ever had on the show. Formed in 1978, The Monochrome Set would quickly become one of the most celebrated bands of the UK’s post-punk era. Influencing everyone from The Smiths to Pulp to the Arctic Monkeys, The Monochrome Set’s witty wordplay and irresistible melodies are still plenty vibrant 40 years on. After a few brief breaks in the ’80s and ’90s, The Monochrome Set have returned to their prolific ways, recently releasing their fifth post-reunion album, Maisieworld. Two founding members remain in the band today, singer/guitarist Bid and bassist Andy Warren. They’re joined by drummer Mike Urban and keyboardist John Paul Moran, both of whom have played in the band at various points since the ’90s. While on a rare US tour, The Monochrome Set stopped by our studios to perform a few of their favorites.

When I initially booked The Monochrome Set to be on the show, I suggested it might be fun for the band to play a mix of new and classic songs. To that end, our session begins with a rousing run-through of “The Jet Set Junta,” from 1982’s Eligible Bachelors. Much like their successors The Smiths and The Jam, The Monochrome Set’s discography is flooded with stand-alone singles in addition to their full-lengths and EPs. While the singles retrospective Chaps is absolutely essential listening, Eligible Bachelors stands as one of the band’s strongest start-to-finish albums of their ’80s era. Next comes a pair of songs from the most recent album, Maisieworld. The delightfully wordy “Oh, Yes, I’m Going To Be In Your Dreams Tonight” recaptures the alluring rhythms of the band’s earliest singles (namely the self-referential “The Monochrome Set (I Presume)” from their 1980 debut). The other new song, “Mrs. Robot,” follows a mechanical funk beat that’s not too far off from something you’d hear on a record by previous IRHP guests BODEGA. Finally, there’s “The Ruling Class,” another indelible classic from Eligible Bachelors. After listening back to the performance, drummer Mike Urban asked me how long the breakneck track ran. “One minute, fifty-seven seconds,” I said. “That’s as long as it needs to be!” he replied. There’s a reason this band is so revered.

Listen to The Monochrome Set’s Indie Rock Hit Parade session below, and check out some photos from the studio…

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