Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on


Concert Review: The English Beat in Omaha – 3/5/10

Because we needed an Omaha correspondent, we're happy to welcome our good friend Rebecca to ATV with a review of the recent Omaha gig featuring The English Beat and Fishbone!

The English Beat are still touring in 2010?  Believe it or not, YES!

This version of the seminal British 2 Tone Ska revival band includes founder Dave Wakeling on lead vocals and guitar. Dave formed the band in 1978 in Birmingham, England with co-vocalist and partner, Ranking Roger. Roger and his son now tour the UK under the band's original name, "The Beat."

I'm excited to see the show, whatever the line up, and I'm not the only one. It's a sold out show and craigslist had several posts offering to pay $100 a ticket. Wow. It leaves me wondering, "What's it going to be like now that we're all middle aged?"

The Slowdown is an industrial space, downtown, on North 14th Street. Here are the things to love about the place. The design means there isn't a bad seat in the house. There are 3 tiered levels on which to stand, surrounding the dance floor, in a semi circle, facing the stage.  Above, a balcony curves around the performance space and reminds me a lot of Irving Plaza in NYC's Union Square.
Louisiana reggae band, Outlaw Nation, opens and does justice to the other members of this high-energy bill. Fishbone hits the stage next, turning it up a notch with, "Unyielding." It was great to see Dr. Madd Vibe (aka Angelo Moore) wailing on that sax, virtually unchanged. Ben Harper's John McKnight handled the trombone, bassist and founding member John Norwood Fisher led the rhythm section along side John "Wet Daddy" Steward on drums. It's a nice surprise to see Rocky George, formerly of Suicidal Tendencies, on guitar. Dre Gipson (keyboards/vocals) and Fernando Pullam (trumpet/vocals) round out this line up.

Running through a list of favorites like "Bonin' in the Boneyard", "Alcoholic" and "Lyin' Ass Bitch" they closed the set as expected with fan favorite, "Party at Ground Zero". I wish I could have seen them play "Ugly" but I have something to look forward to next time.

By the time The English Beat appeared, The Slowdown's performance space had filled to capacity.  You'll know this is true when you notice there are no close-up photos of the main act. I couldn't get anywhere NEAR the stage. I'm elbow to elbow with a fan base that's divided into two groups: giggling groups of middle aged women and younger "rude boys / girls" who's costume is a cross between mod and skinhead.

They do have one thing in common - they're all having a terrific time. I swear this is the happiest group of people I've ever been packed into a tight space with. Normally being squished brings out the brute in me, but I couldn't even shoot a dirty look at the guy who kept bumping into me, his goofy grin was hard to resist.

The band is TIGHT and their leader is in fine form. He's a little rounder than the last time (aren't we all?) but his sense of humor is half the show. He likened the improbable dancing before him to good sex. "It verges on violence but nobody gets hurt." Good to know. He shared that a great deal of his inspiration for his "happy songs" came from trying to overcome the weather in his home town where he says, "It snows for six months and rains the other six". Hello, Cleveland!

Dave's current rhythm section is handled by Rhythmm Epkins and Wayne Lothian. Rounding out the septet, Antonee First Class takes on toaster duty, followed by saxophonist Nat Love, keyboardist Ray Jacildo and guitarist Musashi "Moose" Lethridge. They honored the Beat's fans with "Tears of a Clown" and "Rough Rider" right up front, with a sprinkle of General Public between the rest of the EB classics. My favorite moment came during "Save it for Later" when they broke into Pearl Jam's "Better Man" for a few bars, an homage to PJ's long standing tradition of doing the same (in reverse) during their live shows.

Dave's band 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. We're all a little bit older and staying out till 1 am hurts a little more than it used to. What hasn't changed is the way romantic melodies and a syncopated beat can make it all a little better, for a while. Don't miss this tour if you're lucky enough to have it come to your town.

Visit The English Beat official Myspace page for upcoming tour dates.

  • Stereo Dictator

    Looked like a great time. Fishbone makes any party a good one.

  • Stereo Dictator

    Looked like a great time. Fishbone makes any party a good one.

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    Great review about them. Always a dance band that that gets the mild crowd crazy. The sounds sound great over and over performance after performance.

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