The English Beat at Maxwell’s

Is there a better way spend Cinco de Mayo? The two-tone ska elder statesmen tore the house down for a tightly packed, enthusiastic crowd!

May 5, 2010: At the last minute, my buddy Lava told me he had one extra ticket for The English Beat at Maxwell’s (1039 Washington St, Hoboken). To be honest, I wasn’t sure really what to expect from the night. I was curious as to how the songs have held up over the years.

After all, 2010 marks the band’s thirty-first anniversary (man that makes me feel old). The same time that Maxwell’s has been in business too, by the way.

Would they turn out to be washed-up, brit-pop has-beens riding retro coattails, hoping that enough fans still exist to sell tickets? Or would they be seasoned pros who have perfected their craft, injecting it with some new, youthful energy and playing better than ever?

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I’m happy to say, they were undeniably the latter and happy memories of my high school days spilled over into tonight.

Several years ago, The English Beat began to tour vigorously once again, settling comfortably into the role of two-tone ska elder statesmen. Maxwell’s was been on their tour agenda for that time as well. I’d heard that their live show tore the house down here and was often berated by friends for missing out. Tonight, they did not disappoint. The tightly-packed, exuberant crowd fueled the band on thru two and a half hours of pure fun.

A surprising highlight for me came during the song “Save it For Later” when the band interjected the words from Pearl Jam’s “Better Man”. I would later find out that Pearl Jam in turn interjects the lyrics of “Save it for Later” into “Better Man”. The two songs being so sonically different made this cross pollination seem even cooler to me. I’d love to find out who did it first. I wanted to ask frontman Dave Wakeling, but I didn’t have the chance.

A recent tide of positive feedback for the band’s live shows may nave sparked the inspiration for recording. Rumors abound regarding a possible new album. If true, after tonight’s performance, I would buy it.

And you should go see The English Beat live the next time they come to town. If you only go for the nostalgia, you will be pleasantly blown away by the show, I promise. If you think these guys are too old, let me ask you this; who still puts on two-and-a-half hour shows (or longer)? The old dudes, that’s who!

I started this post by asking, what better way is there to spend Cino de Mayo? A holiday whose origins few truly know. A holiday that has ranked among the worst nights for encountering drunk amateurs. A holiday that usually sees me locked in my apartment awaiting the storm to roll out.

So, when offered the chance to experience a bit of music history right here in my town, in one of my favorite venues … what other reason would I need to venture out? And I’m glad I did.

See Also:
Photo Gallery
The English Beat (myspace)
Cinco de Moscow

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