The English Beat finally play NZ
Wed, 22 Aug 2012 11:11p.m.
By Ali Ikram
Pearl Jam and Pete Townsend have covered their songs, while Rolling Stone recently gave their box set four-and-a-half stars.
But The English Beat, who play Auckland tomorrow night, would rank as another ‘almost’ story in eighties pop.
Thirty years after writing the song ‘Dream home in New Zealand’, Dave Wakeling has finally arrived in the country.
But he didn't want to come here for the scenery.
“We really thought we were going to hell in a hand basket and people in England were convinced life wasn't going to last much longer and there would be some slight error between the missiles of America and Russia and we'd just cop one,” he says.
In 1981 the Cold War was in full swing, Thatcher was in Number 10, and protest songs were hot.
Wakeling says it was a strange time.
“Sometimes in the early eighties you could have a Top Of The Pops with Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Beat, The Specials and Chrissie Hinds all with a brand new single about unemployment, and then like that you had to be on a yacht with 13 models.”
The English Beat toured with The Clash, Bowie, and Talking Heads – and a new band called REM opened for them. But on the brink of cracking the US they imploded.
“We'd come off stage, 10,000 people would be screaming for an encore and some bright spark would say, ‘we've just become another stadium American rock band’, and I'd say , ‘yes, your point being?’”
While the band went away, the music never quite did.
Now he plays to crowds of kids who've grown up on next generation ska bands, good and bad.
“Sometimes groups aren't getting along quite as well as they like that they think, ‘I know let's try ska’,” says Wakeling.
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