Mike Atkinson

The Beat / Neville Staple – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Thursday March 6

Posted in gigs, Nottingham Post, Rescue Rooms by Mike A on March 7, 2008

A heaving, happy moshpit is always a joy to behold. When the average age of that moshpit is around 45 years old (as well as being one of the largest that the Rescue Rooms has ever seen), you know you’ve stumbled across something very special indeed.

Former Specials and Fun Boy Three front man Neville Staple is 53, and as up for it as ever. Although never exactly the creative powerhouse of either band, he brought a spirited vitality to both – and with his current and surprisingly excellent team of backing musicians, that same spirit remains gloriously undimmed. As they ploughed their way through old ska classics (Monkey Man, Pressure Drop) and Specials favourites (Gangsters, Rat Race, Ghost Town), you were left wondering why they hadn’t been the headline act all along.

Following such all-out mayhem, The Beat had a tough job maintaining the same momentum – but their looser, dubbier, more fluid and spacious sound eventually restored energy levels to maximum. Although only two original members remain – drummer Everett Morton and singer Ranking Roger – the spirit of the old recordings shone through, boosted by some splendid sax playing from an uncredited new member, who bore a distinct resemblance to original band leader Dave Wakeling. Additional vocal contributions came from Roger’s son, Ranking Junior, whose youthful braggadocio brought an extra edge to the performance. Of the old hits, Too Nice To Talk To and Mirror In The Bathroom sounded particularly fine, reminding us of a remarkable period in British musical history.

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