Wednesday, 13 July 2022

The Beat - Boiler Room, Guildford - 11th July 2022

I'd seen Rankin' Roger's iteration of The Beat twice and he had been excellent both times, but I was keen to see and hear, original front man, Dave Wakeling's version.

Sadly, Roger passed away a couple of years ago, but I saw Dave Wakeling's version (often referred to as 'The English Beat', as they're known in the US as there was another 'The Beat' there, and Dave, it seems is now domiciled in the US) were playing Salisbury town hall in 2020 and bought a ticket.

Of course, we all know what happened next and that gig was eventually cancelled. Shortly afterwards, though, I saw they were playing at the tiny Boiler Room venue in near-to-me Guildford, so I quickly snapped up a ticket, only for that gig to be postponed, but eventually, two years later, I was off to the Boiler Room on a steamy Monday night to see them.

The Boiler Room is very small and always hot when crowded, as we'd had 30+C temperatures during the day and there were no tickets on sale for the gig, I knew it was going to be hot and crammed, so I arrived later than I often would, part way through the support act, the Skapones.

As the name suggests, they were a Ska band, complete with brass section, and the tracks I heard them perform were typical Ska sounding versions of other songs, Edwin Starr's War and Frankie's Two Tribes. They were pretty good, if not exceptional, from what I heard.

It didn't seem too busy for them, but when I ventured out into the garden (Something I'd never done on other visits), it was rammed and, of course, by 9PM, when Dave and his Beat arrived, they'd all coming inside.

Luckily I was near the front, off to the right of the stage, so had a good view.

Dave, unlike his former band mate Roger, has certainly piled on the pounds over the years, but many of us can say the same.

Londoner Antonee First Class took on the role of Toaster (Roger's role in the original lineup) and did a decent job, if I have to say it's a difficult task.

The only quibble I ever had with Roger's Beat was it didn't sound like the classic beat as Dave was usually the lead singer, but I would say Dave's voice has changed over the years (maybe some was down to the simple difference of recording vs live) and there were only moments where his voice was distinctive enough to echo back to the original tracks, the opening lines of "Doors of My Heart" and "Too Nice To Talk To" being notable amongst these.

That said, the crowd, even in the stiffling heat (which the venue did their best to alleviate by opening doors to distributing iced water to the audience), responded with enthusiasm to every song, often singing louder than Dave.

They opended with "Rough Rider" and then rattled through a selection of their hits.

I was especially pleased to hear them play "Click Click", which I hadn't really expected.

The pace slowed a little with "Too Nice To Talk To" and "Can't Get Used To Losing You", but bounced back with "Doors Of Your Heart".

I think it was at this point that they took a short break 'to rehydrate' and many people (me included grabbed a drink from the bar).

When they returned a few minutes later, they performed 'Ranking Full Stop' and 'Mirror In The Bathroom", but disappointingly (but maybe neccessarily due to the heat) there was no encore and gradually, everyone drifted away.

I had enjoyed the evening, The Beat were always my favourite Two-Tone/Ska revival band and I can listen to their stuff anytime and it had been good to hear Dave Wakeling sing the songs I knew, but it will always be Roger's form of the band that I'll remember for the energy and excitement of the performances.

Setlist - From Colchester, but close if not identical

Rough Rider
Hands Off...She's Mine
Twist & Crawl
Click Click
Save It for Later
Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret (Boris)
Two Swords
Too Nice to Talk To
Can't Get Used To Losing You
Best Friend
Doors of Your Heart
Ranking Full Stop
Mirror in the Bathroom
No encore

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