Monday, April 22, 2024

The English Beat Save it for Now


Are the Hamptons still hot? Oh yes, indeed. So hot that I actually missed Denise Rich‘s cocktail party to celebrate her coming fall extravaganza for her Gabrielle’s Angels Ball. (Denise, we’ll be there in October.) The reason? The sudden booking of the great UK 80s band The English Beat at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett. Dave Wakeling, founder of The Beat (they were renamed such because an American group beat them to the name), wrote some of the catchiest and most alluring pop-reggae records of the early 80s. When The E. Beat broke up, they splintered into General Public and the Fine Young Cannibals. And then they all drifted away.

On Friday, Wakeling brought his current line up to Amagansett’s famous Talkhouse, a dive with a long, wide stage under a low ceiling. Even though the 9pm temperature was well beyond 80 degrees inside and out, the place was jammed with devoted Wakeling fans who knew every word to the Birmingham Brit’s classics like the extraordinary “Save it for Later” and “Tenderness.” Wakeling is 54 now; I saw him play in 1982 at the Country Club in Reseda, California. He hasn’t lost a “beat,” frankly. Known for his marathon shows, Wakeling kept this one to just a little over two hours. He could have gone on forever.

And oh yes, “Save it for Later”–I can die now, having heard this version, and a whole room of people who didn’t know each other sing this tune loudly and ebulliently. All of Wakeling’s songs are infectious and beautifully constructed, from “Mirror in the Bathroom” to “Tenderness.” But “Save it for Later” is his epic. John Cusack, another rabid fan, made sure to include it in his most recent film.

What kind of guy is Wakeling? I told him before the show that I might have to leave early, and so inquired when “Save it” came in the set. “At the end,” he said, “but I can move it up if you like.” He did–have you heard of such a thing? But the show was so good I had to stay to the triumphant end. The English Beat keeps touring America all summer with Squeeze on some dates, and Bad Manners on others. See them, and understand why the current state of music is so synthetic and dead.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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