The Beat, Eric’s, Liverpool 5th Oct 2012

“Ruuude boy, Ruuude boy, Ruuude boy” – the noise from the packed crowd is deafening, the heat is building; people jostle for a decent vantage point edging closer still to the crash barrier…from the right hand side of the stage various members of The Beat appear and either pick up, or position themselves behind their instruments, again the crowd surge, chanting “Ruuude boy, Ruuude boy, Ruuude boy”.

All eyes are fixed upon the stage door which is shrouded in darkness, as it opens a shard of light breaks through and frames the imposing figure bounding towards the stage; Ranking Roger steps forward, a good 6ft 4 wearing a long purple flock jacket, a style not seen since the overblown theatrics of Rick Wakeman and the like; immediately behind him his son Ranking Junior; both are grinning widely ”“ Jnr calls out “rude boy” and we are straight into \’Whine And Grine/Stand Down Margaret’…Roger and Jnr literally pin-balling across the cramped stage as behind them the ska fusion rhythms ignite the crowd. It might be ska but the crowd aren’t skanking – they are pogoing; there’s no were else to go except up!!

Roger takes a moment to thank the audience, you can see instantly its heartfelt, arms reach out to shake his hand ”“ there is no divide between crowd and band at Eric’s and the ethos of The Beat reflects this, they sing songs of peace, love and unity and do so whilst having a bloody good time.

Roger wisely dispenses with the coat before dedicating \’Hands Up She’s Mine’ to “rudeboys and rudegirls everywhere’. It’s an absolute joy watching father and son onstage together, the generation divide bridged by an appreciation of music; but Jnr is no mere backing vocalist, he adds multi-speed raps, which sound like patois ”“ a modern day sound system MC who affirms along with their lyrical content that The Beat are no revivalist chancers.

 

Roger gives thanks to Joe Strummer then launches into \’Rock The Casbah’ ”“ the Clash played Eric’s a number of times way back in 77′ which perhaps prompted Roger who then makes mention that The Beat last appeared in the venue in December 1979, before promising not to make us wait quite as long for a further return which is heralded with an appreciative roar only diminished by the opening of \’How Do You Do’ with machine gun rapping from Jnr; \’Big Shot’ follows, Roger now stripped to a T-shirt, the pace never lets up as he virtually conducts his crew, there is no set list, either Roger or Jnr call out a song and the melodies follow, Matt Godwin is snaked around his sax ”“ the sound is sublime, temporary drummer Fuzz Townsend (ex PWEI, General Public) the powerhouse, exquisite keys from Mickey Billingham (ex Dexy’s), perhaps even a hint of calypso guitar,  and strong voices from both Roger and Jnr as their vocals interplay.

\’Get A Job’ is dedicated to PM David Cameron, further cheer from the crowd, \’Tears Of A Clown’ cements the camaraderie the crowd singing and dancing in unison, into \’Best Friend’, before Roger informs us that his favourite Beat track is \’2 Swords’ ”“ by now he is drenched in sweat, his waist length dreadlocks have taken on a life of their own, and still he and Jnr ricochet off of each other, never a moment out of step ”“ pure synchronicity; \’Ranking Full Stop’ with its explosive stop/starts sees both father and son stripped to the waist before Roger instructs that \’Mirror In The Bathroom’ needs to “get weird” and treats us to a dub/ragga middle eight that fits so snugly, it was as if it was always so.

The Beat exit wishing all “peace, love and unity” ”“ there was no way this crowd was accepting that, immediately the “rude boy” chants resonate around the room drawing The Beat back out for set closer \’Checkpoint’

This was a magnificent gig, a demonstration of a band at the top of their game ”“ no pretensions, no game plan, purely and simply a band playing with the sole aim of connecting with and entertaining their appreciative audience, relentless energy, top class musicianship ”“ The Beat succeeded on every level.

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.

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