Check this out … a neat read by Carlos Amato from the Times Live online: SA gets to feal The Beat
BRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAA!!!” The Beat hits Joburg and Cape Town this weekend.
Expect some deeply skankalicious insanity, if you can make the show: unlike their old support acts U2 and REM, the ska giants from Birmingham have not mutated into complacent, soporific billionaires.
Three decades ago, frontman Ranking Roger and company torched the UK airwaves with Mirror in the Bathroom. Alongside The Specials, The Beat fronted the second wave of ska, reviving the frenetic early-sixties ancestor of reggae.
It was a resistance moment, as well as a natty, monochrome style and a jittery beat: both bands spoke up for working-class Britons, black and white alike, in a time when racist neo-Nazi thugs, the newly elected Margaret Thatcher and rampant unemployment were all on their case.
Roger sang on Free Nelson Mandela, Specials frontman Jerry Dammers’ 1984 anthem, so his first visit to South Africa is about 26 years overdue. “For me, this is a moment in a lifetime I’ll never forget,” he said this week. “This will be our first time ever so I am filled with excitement.”
Roger is unconvincingly modest about The Beat’s success before their break-up in 1984. Aside from getting doors opened for then-promising youngsters like U2 and REM, The Beat also toured with The Clash, David Bowie, Talking Heads and The Police.
He reckons they were - and are - a political band, first and foremost.
“I think half the reason we got to play with these great bands was because of the things we sang about, and how brave we were at delivering it in a peace-loving manner. We also gave a lot of money to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Greenpeace.”
In the fame stakes, The Beat were always a rung below The Specials, who delivered the most irresistible anthem of the two-tone generation in A Message to You Rudy. But musically speaking, The Beat were just as hot, and probably more inventive in their melding of ska and punk flavours.
Their debut album I Just Can’t Stop It, is the record of the genre, packing a succession of classic floor-fillers: Hands Off, She’s Mine, Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret, Ranking Full Stop and Rough Rider.
Since reforming in 2003, they’ve added a new vocalist in frontman Ranking Roger’s son, Rankin Junior, whose freestyling skills have won rave reviews. Former guitarist Dave Wakeling is no longer involved, he’s currently touring the States as The English Beat (they used that moniker Stateside to distinguish them from an obscure American rock band).
Legendary original saxophonist Saxa is now 80, so he can be excused his happy retirement in Birmingham. Alongside Ranking Roger, the surviving original members are drummer Everett Morton and keyboardist Blockhead.
Expect all those hits, plus a fiery cover of The Clash’s Rock the Casbah.
WHEN AND WHERE:
Tonight: Tanz Cafe @ The Buzz Shopping Centre, Witkoppen Road, Fourways. Tomorrow night: Mercury Live, 43 De Villiers Street, Cape TownTickets: R125 on webtickets.co.za, or R150 at the door.
Lancaster Band and Rudimentals in support at Mercury in Cape Town on Satruday night!!