When I found out The English Beat were on tour and in my neck of the woods, I knew this was an opportunity to capture this legendary band. Their music is labeled as British Ska, Reggae and New Wave. Originally formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England. The English Beat Aka, The Beat took the music industry by surprise with their unique sound and collection of radio friendly hits. The English Beat Original front man Dave Wakeling and his new lineup of talented musicians is selling out all of their current shows. This was my first time at The Raven Theater, located in a small town of Healdsburg, Ca. nestled between the wine country of Mendocino County and the dairy farms in Sonoma County.
The air was crisp, the sky was clear, and as I drove by the theater I watched the concert goers, (majority in their late 50's) line up for the 7:30 opening of the doors. The Raven Theater seats 400 and has a standing room capacity of 100. I did not know this until I spoke with the nice ladies out front that were taking care of the tickets. Wow, I thought, this is a special intimate evening. The night just kept getting better, in fact I was the only photographer there, so they let me shoot the whole concert. Usually you have a three song rule, not in this case. The stage was open, no barrier between the crowd, which ultimately delivered an up close and personal bond with band. There was an opening D.J. that spun some great songs from Blondie to The Buzzcocks. The music was entertaining and set the theme quite well for the evening. I didn't catch his name, as I was interacting with other fans, security and checking out the lighting. 9 pm rolled around and the theater was packed full of mellow, happy folks. Dave Wakeling came out on stage first. The fans started yelling and clapping. My hair rose up on my neck from the excitement. Dave looked very happy, picked up his guitar and plugged in. He welcomed the crowd of Healdsburg, and they responded with a Happy Birthday to Dave, which was on the 19th of February. The rest of the band took their positions, smiled at one another then rolled into Rough Rider by The Beat, off the album I Just Can't Stop It. Instantly the crowd started dancing and singing along. The Beat's music is infectious and takes hold of your body and mind. I too found myself grooving between shots. The lighting was good and consistent, and when I looked up from my camera, I realized that I had not put in my earplugs for the first song. I was surprised at the clarity of the sound. My ears were not ringing at all. This was the first venue I have ever been too that knows how to operate their sound board without blowing your eardrums. Hats off to the sound person, and perhaps to the venue as well. The English Beat played their hit songs like Tenderness, Save it For Later, Mirror in the Bathroom, and even a new single, How Can You Stand There? They delivered a tight solid set of 15 songs in total.
Yet it wasn't so much as hearing their discography that caught my attention, it was the interaction of playfulness among the musicians that was unique. King Schascha, (lead vocals/Toaster) not to mention energizer bunny, has a charismatic quality that oozed on stage and overflowed into the crowd.
The kinship between he and Dave was fun, kind and solid. Another highlight was observing Dave and Brad Engstrom on Bass. Watching them play chords back and forth from guitar to bass, and seeing their eyes light up and smile at one another. The energy on stage overflowed into the crowd, which left a massive footprint. It was evident The English Beat are here to bring togetherness, joy and inspiration through their music. All the musicians had their moment in the spotlight at the end, as they were being announced. The line-up is; Dave Wakeling lead vocals/guitar, King Schascha lead vocals, Brad Engstrom Bass/vocals, Brian "Nucci" Cantrell Drums/vocals, Matt Morrish Sax/vocals, Minh Quan Keys/vocals, Kevin Lum Keys/vocals. If you haven't ever seen this band, or want to be reminded why you continually played their music, this is your chance. The English Beat is a Must see show!
Click here to go to The English Beat's website
CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT ALL OF RAVENZ PHOTOS OF THE ENGLISH BEAT
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