By Scott Roberts; photos by Sue Volkert
Sometimes you go to a concert filled with anticipation, like when you’ve loved a band for years and, for one reason or other, this will be the first chance you’ve had to see them live. Sometimes you go to a show filled with mystery, like when your favorite band’s new CD is a radical departure from their past sound and you’re not quite sure if you like it or not, but maybe hearing the new material live will sway you one way or another. In the case of seeing celebrated ‘80s two-tone legends The English Beat, the reason you go is because you know what you’re going to get — a heaping helping of reggae-infected dance tunes that bring back memories of a time in your life that you can’t believe is so long ago at this point. And had you been at The Loft on February 19, you would not have been disappointed.
The band, these days consisting of original member songwriter/guitarist Dave Wakeling and six other musicians, seemed a bit subdued when they hit the stage, opening with “Rough Rider” and sounding almost as if they were playing in an apartment complex and didn’t want to wake the neighbors. The energy escalated slightly as the set continued, though never quite built to a fever pitch. But that didn’t seem to bother the mostly middle-aged crowd who did their best to skank their way through smooth, tight versions of beat classics “Save It For Later,” “I Confess,” “Mirror In The Bathroom,” as well as “Tenderness” and “Never You Done That” from Wakeling’s nearly-as-popular post-English Beat outfit General Public.
The band was in good spirits (it was actually Wakeling’s 54th birthday) and the musicianship and interplay (from incessant touring) was exemplary. Wakeling and company’s joy of playing these songs was obvious throughout the evening, as was the audience’s joy of listening to these exuberant, melodic dance tunes that hold up so well some 25 to 30 years after they were first heard.
Category: Live Reviews