Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Beat – Glasgow – 1983

?January 1983

Glasgow Somewhere

I really struggled to place this one, both in time and location, I have to say.  I know the gig was during The Beat’s final UK tour, so that dates it to late 1982/early 1983.  I have plumped for January ‘83, but in reality the concert could have easily taken place a couple of months either side. 

As for where, well it was certainly Glasgow, but not in any of the usual concert venues: Barrowlands, The Pavilion or The Apollo.  I also don’t think it took place at one of those clubby-type places on Sauchiehall Street, such as Tiffany’s, Night Moves or The Venue.  Which just sort of leaves Strathclyde University Students’ Union.  But basically, I just cannae mind.

And I find this total recall failure all the more puzzling as at the time I really, really liked The Beat.  Their first few singles released on the Two-Tone tide just sort of washed over me, me really just sitting up to take notice with the release of Too Nice To Talk To in 1980.  The lyric to this one, I remember thinking at the time, could easily have provided the narrative to my socially inept teenage years.

“Emotions so guarded, my heart is retarded.
You’re too nice to talk to”

I was loaned their debut album I Just Can’t Stop It by a now departed colleague (RIP John), and fell in love on first listen.  Everett Morton’s tom toms heralded in a dozen perfectly formed compositions fusing both ska and punk, topped off by Bob Sergeant’s crystal clear production.  The thing was barely off my newly purchased Rega Planar II during 1981.

The band’s follow-up Wha’ppen? was a real disappointment though, with only a couple of songs (Doors of Your Heart and Get a Job) any good, but 1982 brought the Special Beat Service album, wherein could be found the band’s masterpiece:  I Confess.

Commencing with a tinkling piano intro, the track swiftly ripens into a jazz-tinged treat showcasing a quite impeccable trumpet solo, and another set of incisively perceptive lyrics which again I found uncomfortably apt to myself.  Dave Wakeling’s vocal phrasing was flawless, although the spectacle of the singer sporting eye-liner on the associated video was a jarring one indeed.

Nothing else on the album quite matched this nugget although the poignant End of The Party came close.  Other highlights were Jeanette (a text-book exercise in rhyming), Ackee 123, March of The Swivelheads and Save It For Later.   I listened to all of these tracks recently, and was pleasantly surprised by how fresh they all sounded. 

I am guessing most if not all of the songs I have mentioned so far were played at the gig, along with the likes of Mirror in the Bathroom, Big Shot and Ranking Full Stop but I am, as I say, just guessing.  The only one I can recall with any surety is the final encore: a exuberant rendition of Jackpot, whose Caribbean sway had me cavorting around my slightly more reserved friends like a tube.  But I was happy as the proverbial piggy in the ordure.

This tour was the last time the Wakeling/Roger/Steele/Cox line-up played live together, as the band split soon after - although I recall the individual band members being hastily herded back together to mime (with Wakeling in a dinner jacket) to Can’t Get Used To Losing You on TOTP.

I have never felt any desire to toddle along to see any of the cobbled together revivified versions of The Beat which regularly seem to do the rounds, but even so, any Beat tune finding its way to the top of the shuffle pile on my MP3 player will inevitably set me dancing around the kitchen, much to my kids’ embarrassment.

“It’s not my fault” I tell them.  “I just can’t stop it.”  


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