After attending our open studio and taking a glimpse into my world as an artist, singer/songwriter Ranking Roger from The Beat invited me to see behind the scenes at a concert held at The Copper Rooms at Warwick University.
Fast forward a month and its December 18th and I am waiting for my lift to the venue however on the way I am told we’re making a slight detour to see a very special friend of Rogers. We pull up to a house only to find out we are going to visit Neville Staple, the original rude boy from The Special's and Fun Boy Three. From the outset I got the impression he is a down to earth and humble individual, as time went on the atmosphere was relaxed but for me energetic, not only just to sit and talk with, but listen while they reminisce and discuss plans for the future.
The two come from a musical era of individual character, instrumentation and most of all creativity, where artist's wrote and produced their own music gaining their noteworthy through their personalities and talents which is far different from some of todays acts, who are manufactured on reality television. After being taken through a trip down memory lane and gazing at the records and plaques on the wall we are off to the venue.
As we enter the venue I am given my pass, we filter backstage, through the car park to be waved at by fans who arrived early. After getting inside I can see crew have set up and the band are doing a sound check, so I look find a spot and watch Roger and the band practice. The silence is punctured and out blasts ‘Fire Burn’ and the engineer's do their magic too determine the correct acoustics and sound. After all is good to go we moved on backstage to the dressing rooms, the band were very welcoming,relaxing prior to the gig. The mood is laid back with occasional laughter as Roger sat down to sign some albums and CD’s for guests and fans. The background noise thumped away while everyone gets into their zone to mentally prepare before the performance, while the support act Jeremiah Ferrari are on.
As the final call came though for Roger and the group to go on stage I beginning to realise how surreal this is. Not only I am going to see a band whose music my brother and I skanked to in our living room at home and in clubs. But I have been given an opportunity to have a completely different perspective being backstage giving me a great insight into the preparation, mindset and life of a musician. Despite being in two different artist worlds we are still using creative mediums just presented in different forms.
The band’s line up was Ranking Roger and Ranking Junior on vocals with Fuzz Townshend on drums, Andy Perris and Bobby Bird on guitars, Andy Pearson on bass and the brilliant Mark Hamilton on saxophone. The energy and movement on stage was electric with the band performing a collection of songs from the new album ‘Bounce’ such as Fire Burn, Ranking Junior rapped fluidly on ‘Side to Side’ and Avoid The Obvious. A nostalgic energised cover version of The Clash Rock The Casbah, accompanied by classic hits such as Mirror in the Bathroom, Too Nice to Talk and Stand Down Margaret. Vocals were tight the musicians were are on form, the acoustics, rhythm and sounds of ska and reggae had the crowd popping. The music truly created a great feeling, even the roof was dancing! An energised, musical delight to my eyes, ears, heart and mind.
The icing on the cake was when was when we walked up the stairs to green room and I could hear Pauline Black from The Selector singing from her dressing beneath me, priceless…….. As we were leaving the venue I danced to 'On My Radio' at the side of the stage, a moment I will cherish for ever and share with my big brother.
For details of the 2017 tour www.thebeatofficial.com