Monday, 26 July 2010

The Beat goes on

In the dim and distant past ( the 1980's ) when I was a teenager, the most exciting musical movement was the ska / 2 Tone explosion ( I was just that bit too young for the first wave of Punk ) - which brought us such great bands as The Specials, Madness, The Selecter and The Beat.
And Bad Manners.....

2 Tone was the product of a bunch of pissed-off, often unemployed, kids taking inspiration from classic 1960's ska and bluebeat and welding it to some Punk speed and attitude. In those dark days of rampant Thatcherism, rising unemployment, and growing civil unrest, 2 Tone was positive, challenging, political, danceable, and - crucially - multi-cultural. The most commercially successful bands were The Specials and Madness, but just behind them were The Beat, a band who were often a more authentic, "roots" alternative.

Fast forward 30 (!) years from their first album, I Just Can't Stop It, and The Beat are playing to an adoring crowd of old rude boys and young kids in Gloucester Park. ( Well, a lineup of The Beat without original singer, Dave Wakeling, but with most vocals handled by MC / toaster Ranking Roger. ) I'd seen Madness waaaay back in 1985 and The Specials (AKA) about 10 years later, but I'd never seen Roger and the boys. Now they're here and they're pumping out the songs and skanking like a band half their age. It'd be rude not to join in.....

They play all the old classics like Mirror In The Bathroom and Hands Off... She's Mine, songs I'd completely forgotten about like Best Friend and Doors Of Your Heart, and even anti-Thatcher tirade Stand Down Margaret. ( Presumably the old witch has enough trouble standing up nowadays, but we'll ignore that for the sake of nostalgia. )

Ranking Roger is still the charismatic and cool frontman he always was, even whilst wearing a cavalry jacket on a muggy July evening. His son, Ranking Junior ( really! ), steps up for a few songs and impresses with some motormouth MC-ing which edges the band towards a more modern, drum 'n' bass sound.

Things are getting hotter, the crowd are getting wilder, and Roger realises they've forgotten a song: "How could we forget this one?" It's their cover of Smokey's Tears Of A Clown.....
And the place goes mental!

Before we know it, it's all over. Roger has thrown his T-shirt into the crowd, causing frenzied scuffles, and we're left with a message of "Peace, Love and Unity" - well, why not? It's been a great, sweaty, feelgood gig: even Sarah who doesn't usually like this sort of music has had a good time, but like I always say - you can't Beat a good gig!


Scare Sarah said...

It's true, you can't beat it. Wish I'd taken some photos at gigs now! Nice review.

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for the comment, Sarah.

Taking a camera to gigs is something quite new for me - venues seem a lot more relaxed about non-professional recording equipment nowadays, and it helps that I've finally got a decent camera! Still have to compete with all those bobbing heads, though :-(


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