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Concert Reviews
The English Beat
(Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - May 20th, 2010)

OK, and for the record, this version of the seminal British Two Tone Ska revival band only includes founder Dave Wakeling (on lead vocals and guitar). His once-partner in musical crime, co-vocalist Ranking Roger now, along with his son tour the UK under the band's original name, 'The Beat.'

Got all that ... good, so let's continue ... at a sold-out venue tonight, Dave Wakeling's English Beat take the stage at just after 10pm to a hearty welcome from the packed house. And straight off they break into their hit version of the Smokey Robinson classic, 'Tears Of A Clown.'

With the venue so packed tight that wherever you stood when they came on is where you watched them from the entire night, Wakeling's new side man, Two Tone Tony asks, "Are you ready to do some Skankin'?" The answer is a huge yes, and as they go into 'Rough Rider.' Elbow to elbow in the audience, we try are best to groove to the beat.

In what turned out to be a fabulous 2 hour night of high energy musical entertainment, we got such hits as 'Best Friend,' 'Hand's Off She's Mine,' and 'Twist and Crawl.' "I used to sing this next song to me liver," Wakeling jokes to the audience. 'Can't Get Used to Losing You' is the song sung next!

The English Beat, themselves packed into a tight stage space seem to be a very happy group of guys. Always smiling, always singing, next up is the General Public song, 'I'll Take You There.' And, opened by some religious chanting from Wakeling, 'I Confess' is next. "Do you remember the 198-0?" Two Tone Tony asks. "Punk, Rock, Reggae." And it's then we listen to the first new English Beat song of the night - and it sounds just like anything they might well have written back 30 years ago!

Wakeling is dedicating the 2010 tour as a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of their album, I Just Can't Stop It. A lot has changed in 30 years. The audience is older, their hair grey, and the belly's not as slim, but the music is still as spot on perfect as it ever was. Next is the mix of 'Whine & Grind' and 'Stand Down Margaret,' before another new track is unveiled.

Yet another new track, 'How Can You Stand There' comes our way before Wakeling steps outside of himself: "A fella named Dave Wakeling was the inspiration for this next song." 'Good Thing' is then sung, before he announces 'Tenderness' - "39 years of top quality ska we've served up for you guys. He's another one." At that point it was, by far, the best received song of the night!

Another great highlight of the night was their version of 'Save It For Later' that included the mid-section break off into Pearl Jam's 'Better Man' - which is an homage to PJ's long standing tradition of doing the same (in reverse) during their own live shows. "Are you ready for some more Skankin' tonight?," Two Tone Tony inquires, before we barrel into 'Ranking Full Stop' - which bleeds directly into the massively crowd welcomed, 'Mirror In The Bathroom.'

For the encore, we get the slower-paced new track, 'The Love You Give Lasts Forever,' before 'Jackpot' and a Two Tone Tony Magic Bag ditty are all forthcoming. Come the final chord struck, the band thank everyone by shaking each and every hand offered them front stage. Tonight, groups of middle-aged women and dressed up rude boys and rude girls mingled with faux mods and (due to baldness) skinhead's galore - and all in perfect harmony!

Review by: Russell A. Trunk

Click here to read the BRAND NEW interview with Dave Wakeling!