The English Beat, Fishbone, Outlaw Nation
The Granada Theater
February 13, 2010
Better than: Sitting at home watching the Winter Olympics with my wife and kids.
An almost-packed house at the Granada Theater enjoyed nearly four hours of ska-related rhythms this past Saturday night as three fine acts made optimism the order of the evening.
Things started off well with Louisiana's Outlaw Nation taking the stage just after 8; this super-tight quartet was a pleasant, opening band surprise, playing an interesting fusion of hip-hop and reggae that captivated audiences fortunate enough to arrive early.
Then came the legendary Fishbone, a band that wouldn't have a problem headlining just about any event. Blazing through an 11-song set, Fishbone proved that it hadn't lost an ounce of fire from the band's late '80s heyday. Starting with "Skankin' to the Beat" and finishing up with "Ho' Fight" and "Party," Fishbone was simply sensational. Lead singer/saxophonist Angelo Moore was a beacon of energy and the rest of the band was only a smidgen behind him.
After Fishbone's blistering set, expectations were high for The English Beat--Dave Wakeling's most recent conglomeration of musicians did not disappoint.
Knowing that it was impossible to match Fishbone's energy, Wakeling stuck to what he does best: play dance music that's easy to listen to.
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And the English Beat was there to make people happy, so they played the hits and the audience responded. Whether it was "Tears of a Clown," "Can't Get Used to Losing You," "Save it for Later" or a nice version of The Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There," the crowd ate it up like starving kittens.
The large group of 40- and 50-somethings danced like they haven't dance in years. And, really, there wasn't a sad face in the house.
Personal Bias: I've never been a huge fan of ska on record, but live, the music can be quite infectious. The three bands on this night all approached ska from a little different perspective and, as such, added a nice dose of variety to the mix.
Random Note: What's up with ska music and fedoras? The Granada looked as if it were hosting a Tom Landry lookalike competition. And guys? Those t-shirts you purchased in 1980? They just don't look good holding back a gut that took you a couple decades to acquire...