With a double bill of 2-Tone legends ending their year in Liverpool, Graham Smillie gets his Christmas skank on.
It is the night before Christmas Eve, and The Selecter and The Beat arrived in Liverpool on the last date of this year’s round of live shows.
The Selecter opened up with a blistering set featuring all the big hits from their early eighties heyday. Hit followed hit in a high energy show that showed just why the 2-Tone groups of the late 70s and early 80s were so popular.
Three minute Hero kicked it all off, with Frontline, Breakout and Missing Words sending the audience into a skanking frenzy.
There were a smattering of newer songs, all of which fit comfortably alongside the classics –Remember Me, Danger Danger and Taking Back Control, the latter of which was introduced with a cutting observation that “52-48% of Turkeys voted for Christmas, enjoy your blue passports!”
There was no let-up in the energy levels as Big Badoof, Train To Skaville, the James Bond theme and On My Radio followed in quick succession, before a triumphant Too Much Pressure brought the house down.
The two original members of the band, Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson were superb throughout. Black at 64 looks 34 and dances like she is 24. Wonderful stuff.
With only Ranking Roger left from the original version of The Beat you might have expected some deviation from the hugely successful style of yesteryear, but not a bit of it. All the hits and more followed the anti-Tory anthem, Stand Down Margaret.
2 Nice 2 Talk 2, Hands Off She’s Mine, Beat of my Heart, Fight or Burn, Save it For Later, Spar With Me and Tears of a Clown. Skinheads moonstomped and skanked as if their lives depended on it.
A revamped Rock the Casbah in tribute to the 15 year anniversary of the death of Joe Strummer was a stand out and brought a huge reaction, leading into the final few songs of the night. Talk About Yourself Again, Can’t Get Used to Losing You and Ranking Full Stop brought the show to a climax of dancing, sweating, grinning “rude boys and girls” who absolutely got their moneys worth.
Pauline and Gaps came back out for a stirring rendition of Enjoy Yourself to end the night. We all went home happy, possibly aware that older legs would ache beyond belief in the morning, but really too happy to care.
The two bands are lined up for more of the same in the new year. If you get the chance, go see them, they’ll blow your socks off.
Pictures by Brian Sayle