The Beat on tour

Aug 2018 The Beat on tour

THE BEAT, starring Dave Wakeling, performed around the UK from May 25 to June 17.

From the late seventies into the early eighties, The Beat was one of the biggest bands around.

Their first two albums got to No.3 in the charts and they garnered no less than five Top Ten singles hits, including Mirror In The Bathroom and a brace of stunning cover versions – Smokey Robinson’s Tears Of A Clown (the bands’ debut hit in 1979, and Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used To Losing You in 1983. Their unique brand of Punk and 2-Tone music was made accessible by leader Dave Wakeling’s ear for a great hook.

When the band split, the members formed two bands; General Public, featuring Wakeling, Ranking Roger and members of The Clash, Dexy’s and The Specials, while two other members formed Fine Young Cannibals.

In the nineties, Wakeling was persuaded to perform again by Elvis Costello, but then there were two versions of the band: The Beat featuring Ranking Roger, and The English Beat starring Dave, who has played mainly in North America where he now lives.

But now he’s back as The Beat – starring Dave Wakeling, with a brand new album and an extensive tour of the UK coming up.“I’m excited about everything,” Dave told me from his California home. And we’re coming back with a new record.”

New album ‘Here We Go Love!’ was released on May 11

“The first single from the album How Can You Stand There? has been playlisted on Radio 2, but it’s been a long time coming,” he added.

The album has taken more than two years to record and the seeds were sown when Dave started to incorporate some new songs into the bands’ live set.

“The merchandise desk was being deluged with fans wanting to buy a CD of the new tracks.The band has always had a ‘political’ slant but without ramming politics down our throats, and this new album is no different.

“The album is coming out at the right time. Some of the songs are about what’s happening in the world and I’m playing the role of Nostradamus.

“When The Beat first came out, we were all expecting a war, and now the world seems to be gearing up for either a ‘cold’ war or maybe even a ‘hot’ one.”

Coming from Birmingham, Dave’s influences were varied.

“Well, Motown was a big influence,” Dave admitted. “Coming from Birmingham, we were the Motown of England, as we made cars just like Detroit.

“Then there were bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, but strangely not a lot of Punk came from the city. “Then we had a flurry from the late seventies onwards with UB40, Dexy’s, The Beat and Duran Duran – it was quite a renaissance.”

And we can expect to hear some of the album in the live set?

“That’s right, but you’ve got to be careful. We can play eight or nine of the 13 songs in a way that I wouldn’t be embarrassed, but we’ll probably play about three or four. It’s a fine line and it depends on the show on whether we’ll play more.

“The crowd gets excited about the songs they know, so we’ll be playing all the hits and we usually play a lot of the first album.

“I’m very excited to be coming over. Not only can I see my family and friends a bit more, but we’ll be touring on a double-decker bus which is a childhood ambition of mine.”

By Martin Hutchinson