January 7, 2013 Leave a comment
“Iconic” is a term that can get bandied about willy-nilly, especially when it comes to artists of the various genres of popular music. When it comes to the 1980′s 2-Tone ska movement, however, it is a word that justifiably applies to Dave Wakeling, leader of The English Beat.
Together with Madness and The Specials, The Beat — known as “The English Beat” in the US — helped to create a sound that defined one era and influenced another when the likes of No Doubt, Sublime, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and others brought ska back to the popular/alternative music forefront a decade or so later. If that legacy and all his Gold Records aren’t enough proof of Mr. Wakeling’s importance, maybe this will: his Vox Teardrop guitar was donated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 and displayed next to those of Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, among others.
Some former hit makers seem to begrudge the title “icon” or “legend”, always trying to push their latest musical offerings to prove some kind of ongoing relevance. Mr. Wakeling not only doesn’t seem to mind the label, he embraces it, and by doing so, presents a compelling case for his continued relevance even when limiting his sets to his music from the 80′s as he has been doing for the past few years.
This was certainly the case with The English Beat’s latest appearance at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach just before the New Year. Their set of familiar Beat and General Public classics were done with an easy-going sense of confidence and unabashed fun.