By DONNA BALANCIA
The English Beat Starring Dave Wakeling hasn’t lost a step.
With their first studio album since 1982, Here We Go Love, and continual touring, Wakeling and company push on. The famous front man’s smile is dazzling, his voice is crisp and the energy is non-stop.
At a time when most veteran bands are just holding on, the English Beat seems to be growing in all aspects. The new album is comprised of 13 great new songs. And the personalities in The English Beat are becoming more familiar as time goes on, primarily King Schascha who leaps around with his dreds flying, as well as great saxophonist Matt Morrish.
A Setlist of Hits
For those who have seen the English Beat before it’s no surprise the setlist is one giant catalogue of hits. “Twist and Crawl,” the Andy Williams classic “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Too Nice to Talk To,” “Hands Off She’s Mine,” “Tenderness,” “Sooner or Later,” and “Mirror in the Bathroom” are continual crowd pleasers. For those who have never seen this classic band before, it’s a treat when these well-known songs are blended with tunes off Here We Go Love, like “How Can You Stand There.”
English Beat and 2 Tone Ska
In the 2 Tone Ska era of the late-1970s and early 1980s, The English Beat played an important role, along with The Specials, Madness, and The Selecter in presenting a new form of music that blended punk attitude with calypso. Even The Clash adopted the “ska” style with its songs like “Guns of Brixton,” “Rudie Can’t Fail,” and the cover “Pressure Drop.”
The genre is marked by staggered beat and saxophone that seems to be following its own path, in this case executed perfectly by Morrish, a longtime member of Wakeling’s band.
But lest there be confusion, let’s address an important elephant in the room. There are apparently two English Beat bands – Wakeling’s English Beat, and that of former partner Ranking Roger. If you want to hear the voice that made “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “I Confess” the hits that they were, you’re looking for Wakeling’s band.
Take a look at this English Beat flashback:
English Beat and the New Album
This “two versions” of the same band is apparently no uncommon phenomenon when it comes to partners in dispute. Often the courts take years to sort out the paperwork that entitles what to whom when it comes to who owns the name of the band and all the marketing and good will that went into creating, building and maintaining the success. There are two Gene Loves Jezebels, Two UB40s, etc. etc.
But Wakeling’s English Beat is the one that continually draws the huge audiences at regular haunts like The Rose, and last week was no different. The fans are people who have been listening since the beginning. But no matter, the people clamour to get close to the stage and are willing and happy to stand nearby for the 2-hour-long show.
One thing about Wakeling is he gives his best to the fans consistently. And when the fans leave they’re thinking about the next time they’ll see The English Beat.