The Beat still goes on

Local heroes return home – or near enough. Dave Woodhall’s watching and listening.

It’s almost a decade since the Beat got back together and in that time they’ve toured constantly. Line-up changes mean that Ranking Roger is now the only member from the band’s Two Tone (or should that be Go-Feet?) heyday but while the musicians may change the music stays the same.

An enthusiastic Robin audience of self-proclaiming rude bwoys and the occasional girls knew what they were in for from the opening Return of the Dread I; an unashamed feast of the kind of nostalgia that provides a soundtrack to misspent youth.

Too Nice to Talk To, Hands Off She’s Mine, the Get a Job/Whine & Grind/Stand Down Margaret political bit sees band and audience move up a gear. They all go down a storm with Roger leading a band honed by constant gigging and accompanied by Ranking Junior, who pushes his old man ever-harder into a performance that belies the years. It’s thirty-odd years since the Beat first came to our attention and Roger still puts as much into his performances as he did back then. He doesn’t look much older, either.

Rock the Casbah, dedicated as ever to Joe Strummer, leads into Tears of a Clown and there’s a new song, My Dream, which still sounds like classic Beat and has Junior firing a machine gun-rapid rap. A lengthy but in no way over-long Mirror in the Bathroom ends the set (“Some of us have got to get the bus home to Birmingham” says the Brummiest voice ever to grace a stage.)

Roger does his usual drumming at the start of the encore, which also features a snippet of Twist & Crawl between Save It for Later and the regular Jackpot closer.

No surprises, no radical interpretations of old favourites, not much new material. A set full of classic songs, a very happy and by the end knackered audience. The Beat go on.