Photos and Review by Jennie Book
The world is lucky that Dave Wakeling still loves putting on a great show, and especially lucky that he likes bringing The Beat to small venues for intimate performances, the kind where everybody’s drinking and dancing and singing along, like the one that happened at Old Princeton Landing (“OPL” for locals) in El Granada, California on September 22nd.
The OPL is a storied institution beloved by folks on the San Mateo County coast, and has been hosting larger bands lately, similar to Novato’s Hop Monk Tavern’s successful restaurant/pub/live show model. The English Beat was the perfect band to play the venue’s outdoor stage, and Dave and mates were quick to get the ready-to-dance crowd moving and singing with favorites like “Tenderness” and “Mirror in the Bathroom.” The security guard standing near the stage asked me who the band was and if he should know them, and I said “just wait.” And sure enough he, and everyone in the crowd, even if they weren’t a decades-long Beat fan wearing their worn tour t-shirt from past shows, soon was singing along to the majority of what the band played after so many years of radio play and cultural familiarity.
The English Beat is touring with six band members: Dave Wakeling, Toaster/MC Antonee First Class, drummer Mike Benjamin, saxophonist Wes Perry, keyboardist Harunthamastermind, and bass player Dallas Huber. Chloe Wakeling sat to the side of the stage quietly jamming out in support, and I was hoping she’d grab some maracas and get up on stage Bez-like with them, but not this time. Dave has great rapport with the crowd, peppering the in between song space with funny stories and anecdotes, and the band played tight as can be and looked like they were having a great time on stage.
The same happiness can be said about the crowd: people came from far and wide for this show and were clearly happy to be there, and it’s always fun to see Gen Xers ska-skanking like back in the day. The Beat is a band that has the best kinds of fans, those who come out because they want to be with their friends and drink and see some music, and those who will follow the band from city to city, know every word to every song, and have a great time every time.
For all the latest English Beat information, go to Englishbeat.net, and definitely don’t miss them when they come to a club near you.