2 February’s ago, English Beat and Bad Manners played in New York City at Irving Plaza and it was an excellent ska show! The bands are currently on tour together, touring select cities throughout the country. I didn’t want to miss out on seeing this spectacular ska show again!
All day, my fiancee and I were looking for apartments down in New Jersey and just been running the roads. Busy days when you’re trying to move, get married, and other things all happening at once. My life is a bit chaotic so it was nice to break that up with a ska show. But anyway, I was worried that we would be extremely tired for the show but we managed to stay awake. One cure for falling asleep is just to dance your ass off the entire night and that’s what we did! Chris Murray opened the show and it was nice to see him perform again. The only time I saw him perform was back in ‘96 in Poughkeepsie at the Chance with Let’s Go Bowling, Sgt Scagnetti and Conehead Buddha. That was my first ska show by the way! The crowd was practically non-existent during his set but more and more people came in as Chris was playing his acoustic ska music. He played songs like “Rocksteady,” “Ex-Darling,” “We Do The Ska” and some other songs that people were shouting out for him to play. He played for about half hour and then it was time for Bad Manners. If you don’t know who Chris Murray is, I recommend his Venice Shoreline Chris album, and the Chris Murray Combo’s Why So Rude album.
This was the second time seeing Bad Manners and they certainly didn’t disappoint. A lot of the members were new, except the sax player who I recognized from the last time. And then of course Buster Bloodvessel, one of the best frontman in ska and music in general. The guy’s a legend and also a photographer’s dream. You’ll notice how many shots I got of Buster, my camera was drawn to his iconic facial expressions (and tongue). The band opened up with “This is Ska” and the dancefloor was skankin’ away. At this point the bottom half of Webster Hall was filled up, which was nice to see. The balcony was reserved for VIP. No jerks in the crowd, just everybody having a good time. At least from my point of view. Buster was in his usual leopard jacket, basketball shorts and shoes. Kicking the amps, singing away, sticking out his large tongue when called for. The violin player from the last show I saw showed up for the whole set and played on “Lorraine” and “Skinhead Love Affair.” She skanked in the background the rest of the time.
Some of the songs they played included “Lorraine,” “My Girl Lollipop” “Walking in the Sunshine,” “Just A Feeling,” “Feel Like Jumping,” “Fatty Fatty,” “Wooly Bully” and “Skinhead Love Affair.” I think if the bands didn’t have some time constraints, they would have played longer. They didn’t play “Samson and Deliah,” or “Skaville UK” and a few others I heard last time. If that show was only the 10th or 11th show the band has played together for this tour, they certainly didn’t sound it to me. Check them out if they come play your neck of the woods.
The English Beat were up next and set to headline the show. The band got a late start that day, arriving to the venue late, not really doing a sound check, their merch person wasn’t anywhere to be seen until the band went on. I was waiting to buy a English Beat shirt, since they had so many different shirts to pick from! I got a Bad Manners shirt as well! Their intro didn’t come on so they just came out and played their music. Like Bad Manners, The English Beat featured some new touring members except for keys, bassists and maybe someone else? I guess the same can be said for bands like the Toasters. There’s a revolving door of ska musicians. But that’s okay, as long as Dave Wakeling is in the band, everything is okay with me! Chris Murray was playing his acoustic guitar for the entire set with the band as well. I thought that was cool to see.
Dave and the rest of the band opened up with “Rough Rider.” The band played a lot from I Just Can’t Stop It, since they are celebrating it’s 30th anniversary. It was nice to see the crowd so mixed. You had the older crowd, the skins and rudeboys/girls, and then everybody else. Didn’t matter what you were, everybody was there to have a good time and dance to the English Beat. Some of the songs they played in the beginning: “Two Swords,” “Tears of a Clown,” “Hands off…She’s Mine,” “Click Click” and “I Confess.” Out of that batch, I loved hearing “Click Click” and of course “Two Swords” has always been a favorite of mine. I thought they did an excellent job with “I Confess” as well.
Someone in the crowd I think shouted out a song for Dave to play, and he went into an improvised “Pato and Roger A Go Talk” song which pretty much said Roger isn’t here. Dave provided a lot of funny banter in-between songs that night. One nice surprise of the night was The English Beat performing a new song! Well I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise since I saw a video of Dave performing the song on a local TV station a few weeks ago. I forget the name of the song but I really liked it. It fits with the style of English Beat & General Public. Other songs played that night included the ever popular “Save it for Later,” “Whine & Grine,” and “Can’t Get Used To Losing You.”
Since Webster Hall overbooked their venue and had some curfew, the band had to cut their set short. I noticed towards the end that they seemed to rush to get as many songs as they could until 10:30pm hit. They ended their set with “Mirror in the Bathroom.” There was no encore sadly. The club had some dance/club thing downstairs, and some screamo type of show downstairs in the Studio. Since I had a long day, I didn’t mind the show ending that time but it would have been nice to hear a few more songs. Oh well, there’s always next time.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Dave Wakeling and the English Beat yet, be sure to do so. The band is just tight, and will get your feet moving. The same goes for Bad Manners and Chris Murray!
Thanks to Dave Wakeling and Reybee Crew for the passes!
Here’s some of my favorite shots of the evening: