Live at the Gothic Theatre, where you better have a valid ID to get in….
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY TIM HINELY
I’ve been a fan of The English Beat since I first heard the band’s records back in the early ‘80s. They had played a 21 and over club outside of Philly when I was underage and had a crappy fake ID that I didn’t think was gonna work, so I missed them. Fast forward nearly 30 years and it wasn’t until 2011 when I finally caught the band in Portland, Oregon on a great evening.
These days it’s leader Dave Wakeling and a whole new cast of players different from the old days—the original band broke up back in the ‘80s—but honestly, if you close your eyes it sounds like the English Beat of old. Not only that, but the band has new record out entitled Here We Go Love, the bands’ first since 1982’s Special Beat Service, and it’s a real strong collection of songs.
We missed opener King Schascha (who’s one of the members of Wakeling’s band and who loves to talk, I get it, he’s a toaster but come on, it’s Wakeling’s show ), but got there in time to push our way to the front of the nearly sold-out club. Wakeling sang and played guitar, and had a full band with a bassist, drummer, two keyboardists, a sax player and a woman singing backing vocals and two toasters. These folks are road dogs who are always out playing gigs and know what they’re doing.
They opened up with “Rough Rider” and continued to play some of their early ‘80s classics, including “Twist and Crawl,” “Hands Off…She’s Mine,” “Save Ir For Later,” “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Ranking Full Stop” and they even pulled out the old General Public chestnut, “Tenderness” which sounded fabulous; unfortunately no “I Confess” but hey, you can’t have everything, right? Off the new record we heard “The Love You Give” and (the politically charged?) “How Can You Stand There.” No encore, but we didn’t need any, the band played their asses off.
Despite King Schascha taking center stage much of the time, the band was really enjoyable and what I get from Wakeling is that the guy still seems to truly enjoy what he is doing. Imagine that. The guy just has this infectious energy about him and it comes out in his music and when he chats with the crowd. They tour all of the time so if you’ve never seen them before plan on it next time. You’ll get your money’s worth.