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My first exposure to the English Beat was through the movie Kingpin, so what better venue to see them in than a bowling alley? The Beat emerged from backstage, Wakeling in a polo shirt with a black-and-white checkerboard collar. It was the perfect wardrobe choice, simultaneously representing his age and his two-tone history. They kicked things off with "The Love You Give Lasts Forever," a peppy tribute to Dave's departed mother. Sound issues plagued the set from the first notes, Wakeling walking over to the onstage tech to try to rectify the situation. The bass wasn't loud enough, the guitars weren't audible, and Dave's banter was indiscernible through the reverb. Sadly, the botched mix persisted for most of the show, creating a disconnect between the stage and the floor.
Fortunately, with a legacy act like the Beat, the crowd was quite familiar with the material and able to piece together the gaps in their heads. Well, maybe not the heartfelt "Said We Would Never Die." The new number will be on the upcoming For Crying Out Loud, the Beat's first LP in over thirty years (and you'll have to listen to the podcast to learn who that one's about.) Dave recommended "I'll Take You There" to those looking for a bid at the White House in 2016, as both Clinton and Obama had used the song on the campaign trail, both elected to two terms. As you'd expect, the set focused heavily on tracks from I Just Can't Stop It, but a pair of General Public tunes, "Never You Done That" and "Tenderness," had fans giddily dancing, fully earning their late-set placement. But that was nothing compared to when "Ranking Full Stop" dropped into "Mirror in the Bathroom" with the scorching howl of Matt Morrish's saxophone. A cheer erupted from the crowd as the floor turned into a gyrating punky reggae party. Although they are known to play a two-hour-plus set, the band turned in early without an encore, most likely a result of the frustration over the sound issues. Bittersweet, sure. But damn, I loved what I saw in that "Mirror."
THE ENGLISH BEAT - 09.17.14 - BROOKLYN BOWL (1 hour, 39 minutes)
The Love You Give Lasts Forever / Rough Rider / Tears of a Clown / Twist & Crawl / Happy Birthday / Hands Off... She's Mine > Children Crying > Hands Off... She's Mine / Best Friend / I'll Take You There / I Confess / Click Click / Save It for Later / Said We Would Never Die / Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret / Two Swords / Can't Get Used to Losing You / Sole Salvation / Never You Done That / Tenderness / Ranking Full Stop > Mirror in the Bathroom