The Beat, The English Beat, The British Beat or just Dave Wakeling, wherever you are and whatever you call them, this band is all about the “2 Tone” British ska movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s. The distinct and party-inducing voice of Dave Wakeling fronts the US version of the band, The English Beat. I caught the band at the Showbox Market earlier this month and I was quite surprised at the number of people dancing at the show. Wakeling is a stellar front man; he knows that the best way to get positive vibes from the crowd is to give off positive vibes, and he has them in spades. You know you’re doing something right when you can get a room full of people in their mid-to-upper forties skanking (to be fair, they were implored to skank, but they were mostly shuffling their feet and swaying their arms to some unknown beat) in a city like Seattle.
I was a little bummed to see that Wakeling was the only founding member of The English Beat on stage. Though, the touring band did a great job of keeping the hits tight and flowing. Toaster Antonee First Class (yep, that’s his name) was hyping the crowd between songs, dancing about the stage and dropping rhymes with a Seattle flavor to get the crowd cheering. Rhythm section Wayne Lothian on Bass and Rhythmm Epkins (yes, that’s how you spell it) on Drums, kept the groove going and the assess shaking. Matt Morish honked the Saxophone (I like a broader brass section in my ska bands, but whatever) and sang harmonies while Kevin Lum got to sit in the back and play the keys. But of course, the crowd came to see and hear Dave Wakeling sing in that distinct voice and play on that iconic “tear drop” Vox guitar.
The English Beat played just about the entire track listing from their first release I Just Can’t Stop It, including stand out tracks like “Hands Off…She’s Mine”, “Rough Rider”, the great Smokey Robinson cover “Tears Of A Clown” and of course, their biggest hit “Mirror In The Bathroom”. Now, I got burned out and bummed out by the 1990’s versions of ska music, but when you hear that saxophone riff from “Mirror In The Bathroom”, it is hard not to put your head down and skank across the room.
The English Beat, lead by stand out Dave Wakeling can be seen throughout the US on their current tour. Do not miss the chance to see a pioneer of the British 2Tone sound.
I’m Honcho the Grouch and I approve this music!