The English Beat
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Friday, November 7, 2014
"I don't know why you're asking us to play that song. We haven't played it in years." Dave Wakeling said deadpan in his thick English drawl as the crowd roared for "Mirror in the Bathroom."
What other accent would you expect to hear from a band forced to call themselves the English Beat on US shores since there was already an American band with the name they're known by in the UK, The Beat?
From 1980 to 1982 The Beat, English or otherwise, put out three touchstone ska albums with hits like "Save it for Later," "Hands Off She's Mine," and yes, "Mirror in the Bathroom".
The only member from that classic line-up still gigging is Wakeling. And so the night was more of a retrospective of Wakeling's career including songs from his post-English Beat ensemble, General Public.
He was joined by another guitarist, a bassist, a sax player, a drummer, and keyboards as well as a row of his guitars displayed in their many alternate tunings. Together they entertained the large crowd for over two hours.
This was a no-nonsense workmanlike effort by a band. To be honest, there was some nonsense with Wakeling's patter with the fans, including his tongue-in-cheek tributes to Andy Williams (who popularized the song they covered "Can't Get Used to Losing You") and Margaret Thatcher (whose heartless policies inspired "Stand Down Margaret").
But they ripped through nearly 20 songs, barely taking a breath in between rocksteady beats. There was not even the clichéd, ego-boosting walk off the stage having the fans chant their name.
Rather, Wakeling dug through his catalog including a couple new songs that will be released next year in For Crying Out Loud, the first new English Beat album in three decades.
And in the end, Wakeling was proven to be a liar making the sweaty rude boys and girls on the dancefloor (many of which were young enough to remember his songs when they were new) very happy as they tore into "Mirror in the Bathroom."
As they played the last chord, the band put down their instruments, bent down to shake hands with the audience, and walked off, saving nothing for later.
The English Beat's Setlist
-"The Love You Give"
-"Tears Of A Clown"
-"Twist & Crawl"
-"Hands Off...She's Mine"
-"I'll Take You There"
-"Save It for Later"
-"Said We Would Never Die"
-"Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret"
-"Can't Get Used to Losing You"
-"Never You Done That"
-"Ranking Full Stop"
-"Mirror in the Bathroom"