The English Beat | 03.24.11

When Antonee First Class starting singing “I remember the nineteen-eight-oh,” the audience did their best to jump with their hands in the air.

 

Blueberry Hill Duck Room, St. Louis

Though it was unseasonably cold outside for late March, fans of The English Beat were working up a sweat in The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill. The band, which started in 1978 in England as The Beat, delighted their middle-aged fans with their classic mix of ska, reggae, punk, and new wave.

The show started at 9 p.m. with KDHX DJ Doug Morgan playing soul and reggae. Just a few minutes after 10 p.m., The English Beat took the stage and started in with “Rough Rider.” Though guitarist/vocalist Dave Wakeling was the only original member present, Rhythmm Epkins (drums, vocals), Wayne Lothian (bass, vocals), Raynier Jacildo (keyboards, vocals) Matt Morrish (sax, vocals) and toaster Antonee First Class played the songs as if they were their own.

The set list was mostly a collection of early ‘80s Beat songs—tracks from I Just Can’t Stop It (1980),  Wha’ppen (1981) and Special Beat Service (1982)—though a few tracks were from Wakeling’s project General Public.

After “Rough Rider,” the band played “Tears of a Clown” and “Hands Off…She’s Mine.” The crowd swayed and bounced through “I’ll Take You There” and “I Confess.” When Antonee First Class starting singing “I remember the nineteen-eight-oh,” the audience did their best to jump with their hands in the air. After “Save It For Later,” more than one hour into their 2-hour-15-minute-set, the English Beat slowed it down with the new track “The Love You Give.” After seven more reggae and new wave jams, including “Ranking Full Stop” and “Mirror In The Bathroom,” the band left the stage.

A few minutes later, The English Beat came back to play three more songs: “Sole Salvation,” “Never You Done That,” and their usual closer, “Jackpot.” Though it wasn’t a hit-packed encore, the crowd left satisfied by the performance.

For their “32th anniversary,” as Wakeling put it, The English Beat did a good job. They showed a deep familiarity with their songs without sounding tired or washed out. | Eva Connors

 

 

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