December 17, 2015
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David DiPietro
Photos by Co Dao
And The Beat Goes On
Let's face it, a lot of bands who are still around from the 1970's and 80's have at some point had to face reality and get new group members as time goes on, The English Beat is one of those bands. Sometimes, it is the Grim Reaper taking his rock and roll toll, but most times it is musical differences, inter-band politics and just changing lifestyles of the aging members.
The problem for the discerning fan or critic is, when does said band maintain its credibility and at what point does it jump the shark and become a glorified cover band? Or worse, a parody of its former self.
The English Beat U.S. rolled into Dallas Friday night for a show sporting only guitarist Dave Wakeling from the original lineup, a show I saw at the Agora Ballroom in 1982. Despite this, what I can say about the concert, is that it is better to have this diluted version of the Beat in 2015, than to have no Beat at all.
The Beat (the 'English' was added in the U.S., due to a shitty Los Angles power pop band of the same name in 1981), are sadly fractured into two split factions these days, one outfit fronted by original lead singer, Ranking Roger, in the U.K., one fronted by Wakeling in the U.S.
The band took the Granada Theater stage promptly at 10:30, following an enthusiastic and upbeat set from the Dallas ska band, Rude King. Already a fixture on national stages, Rude King must have been in awe to open for the likes of Wakeling and company.
The sound in the Granada was very good as usual, though I found the mix to be a little low in the volume department, even up front. But I realize I was not there to review Black Sabbath.
The band played the hits such as, "Mirror In The Bathroom" (#4 in the U.K.,1981), as well as a few choice deep cuts, later in the set.
"Too Nice To Talk To," was upbeat and tight, as was a sparkling, "Hands Off, She's Mine."
The saving grace of this version of the Beat is that Wakeling, in addition to playing guitar, was also a co-singer 35 years ago. If you closed your eyes, and took a deep hit off of a joint, which many in the crowd did (obviously not me), you might be able to conjure the essence of the original line-up, with a little use of the imagination.
When the band broke into the General Public tune, "Tenderness," I scratched my head for a second, but duh. Dave Wakeling was in General Public, after the demise of the Beat. The tune chimed through the Granada and had the crowd of about 600 ranking full stop.
A cover of, "Can't Get Used To Losing You," (also a U.K. hit), shined and many of the 30's-ish glass-eyed audience were in glee. It is nice to see that despite recorded music having no monetary value in 2015, the songs themselves still resonate with the (General) public.
The Beat's strong suit is that they were always capable of blending serious social and political issues while maintaining and upbeat, if not ironic message. "Stand Down Margaret," is such a tune, and tonight it was truly powerful. Margaret Thatcher has been out of office for 30 years but the message remains the same: Nuclear disarmament and Might does not make Right.
A rollicking dance tune, "I Confess," a tale about betrayal and heartbreak is a microcosm of the Beat's blend of pathos with party: Yes, everything sucks, but let's dance the night away and celebrate our humanity and existence.
"Save It For Later," was the highlight, and while it may not have brought the house down literally, Mike Schoder may want to have some of paint of the brilliant 1940's mural on the psychedelic ceiling checked.
Was this the English Beat in 1982? No. But was the crowd leaving the Granada thoroughly satisfied? Yes.
Decide for yourself what is more important in 2015.