erasing clouds

Live Review: The Beat @ The Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow, Scotland, 19 June 2004

by anna battista

After an agonising opening set by a young band who clearly believes they are a ska/reggae/garage/punk/rock act, but are actually not far from being a Blink 182 tribute band, The Beat are finally on. This band, better known as The English Beat, was originally formed in Birmingham in the late '70s and was, together with The Specials and The Selecter, one of the most important "two-tone" groups of the 1980s.

Recently reformed, The Beat now includes Ranking Roger's son, Mini Murphy (aka Ranking Junior), who shares vocals with his dad and who's rather cool. The band's opening track, "Stand Down Maggie", their 1980 anti-Thatcher hit, has been slightly changed for the occasion, the very apt lyrics "Stand Down Tony/Stand Down George" have now been added for the joy of the crowd.

After creating a party atmosphere, the band goes through old hits, such as the Smokey Robinson cover "Tears Of A Clown", "Hands Off... She's Mine", "Ranking Full Stop", "Too Nice To Talk To", "Rough Rider" and "Mirror In The Bathroom". We all clap when they do a cover of The Clash's "Rock The Casbah" and somebody throws on stage a "London Calling" t-shirt with the (in)famous picture of Joe Strummer smashing his guitar. Ranking Roger picks it up, unfolds it and shows it to the crowd like a priest showing the liquefied blood of S. Gennaro in Naples to an ecstatic congregation. "A sign of respect," he says and everybody unanimously claps.

Dreadlocks flying around, Ranking Roger and son, who never seems to part from his trilby hat, move in perfect co-ordination and with great energy, get the crowd (aged skinheads included…) singing along and dancing to their ska/reggae beats and generally spread the positive vibes of peace, love and unity around. Indeed, these are the principles this very political band always had faith in and it's good to know that, after all these years, The Beat still believe in them.

Issue 24, June 2004

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