Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Photos/Review: The English Beat @ Irving Plaza

The English Beat @ Irving Plaza - July 2nd, 2011

Photos & Review by Anjelica LaFurno

My first ever English Beat concert experience began like this: I look up from the photo pit to the right-hand side of the stage where I spot a quick wave and smile from Dave Wakeling and The English Beat’s lovely tour manager Candy. In that wonderful nanosecond I excitedly realized that not only was I being acknowledged by the legendary King of Ska, but also that the next two hours would be as genuine and charismatic as said music royalty. The night was completely devoid of the artificial that often accompanies the concert experience. No barrier of snobbery and supposed superiority existed between the crowd and band. This feeling of mutuality was pointed out by The English Beat’s toaster Antonee First Class (Yes, his name is Antonee. Not Ranking Roger. I repeat Antonee and not Ranking Roger!) who declared as we all danced: “We are one!"

Wakeling picked up his signature teardrop vox guitar, walked up to the mic, and cooed to the audience,  “How about some ‘Rough Rider’?” Shouts of approval ensued as the sounds from the stage immediately began to take control of the crowd's motor skills. Dancing was abundant amongst the spectators of older devoted fans and younger newer fans, many escaping the monotony of Irving Plaza’s neighboring NYU dormitories and campus. And then this sea of collective dancers intensified making waltzing waves when the next song, “Tears of a Clown”, was played. After the first four songs Wakeling related to the crowd his distaste for New York City’s current humid weather and he likened it to the depressing weather of his hometown Birmingham, which he finds is also able to push one to contemplate suicide. This observation and opinion were certainly an appropriate introduction to the song “Click Click”, or as Wakeling referred to it “Click Fucking Click.” When the band played “Save it for Later” (my personal favorite) they played Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” in the medley. This was a sort of reciprocal homage to Pearl Jam who often play “Save it for Later” in their own medley of “Better Man.”

I’ve noticed at many shows I’ve attended over the years that there’s a mutual understanding amongst artists to force a change of pace. It’s almost an unspoken rule that there has to be some sort of cadence if it all started out very energetic or there must be some climatic rise at the end if the beginning was considerably mellow, yet this was not the case with The English Beat. The tempo remained upbeat throughout the show’s entire two-hour duration. It was as if they would never stop. At one point Wakeling suggested that all couples dance and for single people to grind against a stranger as they played “Whine and Grine,” which was reinforced by the song’s seductive sax solo. Other highlights during the show was Wakeling’s Tweety Bird like whistling and the performance of two General Public songs: “I’ll Take You There” and of course “Tenderness.” Not to mention the continued unity amongst the crowd and band as every one sang, “Mirror in the Bathroom” leading into the last song of the night “Jackpot.”

Earlier before the show I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Wakeling and shortly before our time came to an end he asked me what I look for when I attend a concert. I explained that I personally look for experiencing a mutual happening free of any worries, allowing myself for a moment to be completely lost. And I successfully found just that this past Saturday while swaying to the best of ska.


Read Anjelica's interview with Dave Wakeling over here. For now, check out videos of the English Beat's performance at Irving Plaza, as well as some photos Anjelica shot...

1 comment:

  1. This woman is wonderful!! Great review and interview!