The Beat Goes On

English Beat 171_filtered
The English Beat at Club Nokia, 31 July 2009.

The English Beat returned to Los Angeles to perform in front of a packed house at Club Nokia at the LA LIVE complex on Friday night. Although originally from Birmingham, England, band leader Dave Wakeling has made his home in southern California for the last couple of decades, so this was a show for the hometown crowd. The Beat definitely did not disappoint.

From the moment Wakeling and company took the stage, the crowd was electrified. Pockets of dancers began spontaneously skankin’ around the room, while the center of the floor became one big mosh pit. At one point, though, Dave did note that it was “probably the most polite mosh pit” he’d ever seen.

More photos and why you’re sorry you missed this show after the jump.

Dave Wakeling & toaster Antonee First Class. Photo by Burns!
Dave Wakeling & toaster Antonee First Class.

Last week MetBlogs’ Lucinda Michele gave away tickets for this show. Congratulations to the winners, and if that wasn’t you, I hope you had the good sense to purchase tickets. If you weren’t at Club Nokia on Friday night, you missed a great show.

I felt my age a bit when Antonee First Class mentioned that this year marks the 30th anniversary for The English Beat; many fans in the crowd weren’t even born when The Beat released their last album of new material. Wakeling didn’t seem to notice the years, though. With his (still) boyish good looks and charming stage presence, you’d never guess he’s been at this for 30 years.

Antonee First Class & Dave Wakeling of The English Beat, 31 July 2009.
Antonee First Class & Dave Wakeling of The English Beat, 31 July 2009.

The current line-up has been playing together for some time, and it shows. Performing so many live shows and playing together in the studio has made a very close-knit band. Their set was tight, and more importantly, they are clearly having a good time on stage together.

There is nothing worse than seeing a group that aren’t enjoying themselves, but when a band is obviously having fun on stage, that fun spreads quickly throughout the audience.

During an hour plus set, the band played nearly every English Beat and General Public hit you could’ve hoped for. There were even a couple of great new tracks, and word that the band are working on writing more new tracks for an upcoming album.

One song noticeably missing from the setlist was “Stand Down Margaret.” Toward the middle of the set, Wakeling teased the crowd by calling out the song and mentioning that due to Alzheimer’s disease, the song’s namesake now can’t remember which country she was prime minister of. He changed directions, though, and went into another tune.

Admittedly, when the band rolled into their signature closer, “Mirror In The Bathroom,” it was a bit disappointing. Although it is a crowd favorite, it signals that the end is near, and I’d have been happy for The English Beat to go on playing all night.

Fear not! The English Beat continues their tour around the country with Reel Big Fish through mid-August with more solo dates booked through October, but they’ll be back in L.A. soon. Keep an eye out. You don’t want to miss them again.

Reel Big Fish, 31 July 2009.
Reel Big Fish, 31 July 2009.

Speaking of Reel Big Fish, they were on the bill Friday night, too. The English Beat is a hard act to follow, but Reel Big Fish came on strong to keep the energy coursing through the crowd.

Opening with a raucous ska cover of a-ha’s “Take On Me,” the band kept the audience energized with a steady stream of crowd-surfers being pulled out over the barricade.

A fast-paced set of originals and more covers (including a Metallica tune done in a ska style) made for a fun finish to a fantastic evening.

Were you at Club Nokia on Friday night? What did you think? If not, will you be there with me when The English Beat plays their next gig in L.A.? I’ll be looking for you.

All photos by me (“Burns!”,) and clickably gigantified.

3 Replies to “The Beat Goes On”

  1. Dave Wakeling truly looks to be enjoying himself with his music these days, and that is a good thing. As for Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret, I don’t think I’ve seen this new lineup play that officially, but I was at a show a few years ago, where Uncle Dave and the band improvised a few bars of “Stand Down Georgie.” I cheered loudly for that bit of perfection.

    I think “Two Swords” was also absent from the set, but honestly I couldn’t have asked for much more from the performance. Variations on existing favorites, new material (4 or so new songs, I think), and that beautiful, unique, familiar voice that can make everybody in the room who isn’t already a kid feel like a kid again, make The Beat one of the best shows to attend. Wakeling and company create a rich, personal and intimate experience in any room, large or small.

    I’m so glad to be able to see this show in this 30th anniversary year. Now if only I could have made it to Madstock or to the past or upcoming Specials 30th anniversary shows. And Pauline Black is also celebrating the 30th singing along with the Neville Staple Band (I guess Staple is very busy this year).

    Anyway, thanks Burns! for the pictures and write-up, thanks Lucinda Michele for initially posting about this event, and thanks English Beat and Reel Big Fish for putting on a great show.

  2. Glad you made it, Ataki. And, glad you had as great a time as I did. Looking forward to the next time already.

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