Review: The English Beat at The Phoenix Concert Theatre (Toronto): November 26, 2015


The Phoenix Concert Theatre was heaving last night in Toronto with The English Beat fans that clearly knew the band’s discography and wanted to shake a tail feather rude boy/rude girl styles with a few pints in tow.

The English Beat did not disappoint.  Really, do they ever?

Dave Wakeling Lead Vocals/Guitar alongside Nucci Cantrell Drums/Vocals, Matt Morrish Sax/Vocals, Kevin Lum Keys/Vocals, Jeffrey Connor Bass/Vocals and King Schascha Toasting/ great vibes were in top form.  Watching Wakeling sip his water on stage as we sweltered in the heat of the space transported us to ska infused Caribbean climes.

Songs that took us back to nostalgic snapshots of our youth included of ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’, ‘Save it for Later’ and ‘Tears of a Clown’.  They were full on in ska tendencies.  If you couldn’t keep up – really you need to move to the side so those who want to properly skank to the beat.

Blends of ‘Stand Down Margaret’, ‘I Confess’, ‘Ranking Full Stop’ and ‘Sole Salvation’ had no chip at all in their exteriors.  Timeless and timely especially in 2015 as much as they were in the 1980’s when they were first penned.

With Madness, The Selecter, The Clash and The English Beat created music for the time coming out of the UK that spoke to the original Jamaican ska scene of the 1960s.  The English 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s, which fused Jamaican ska rhythms and melodies with the faster tempos and harder edge of punk rock; and the third wave of ska, which involved bands from the UK, other European countries (notably Germany), Australia, Japan, South America and the US, beginning in the 1980s and peaking in the 1990s.  The English Beat is clearly carrying on the legacy with romps, stomps and some dashes of punk rock tossed in for good measure.

The song that shone the most beams from the audience was for the opening notes of ‘Tenderness’.  General Public, Wakeling’s side project with ex-band mate Ranking Roger ached of emotion, rawness and love.  Think the heyday of Muchmusic in Canada.

The English Beat are half way through their Fall tour of the U.S. and Canada.  Check them out – but keep in mind their shows go late and be ready to sweat it.  😉

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