It was the longest drawn out birthday ever! Back in February I bought BBE tickets to see The Beat, Neville Staple and Pauline Black in that there London, and finally this weekend a mere 14 weeks later the birthday present happened. And though I say it myself it was the best birthday present ever!
We actually went to the same gig last year in the Camden Centre, it was the night after Madstock and I travelled down to meet up with BBE after persuading him to stick around and go to this gig, which he'd been sort of talking about maybe doing anyway even though his train tickets were already booked to come back. But after seeing The Beat in St Helens and The Specials in Manchester, I was as keen as he was to go to the gig. Plus he really really wanted to see Pauline Black.
This years gig was significantly better than last year. Although the Camden Centre had a charm to it that made the whole thing feel more like a dancehall, everyone was dancing to the Ska / Reggae tunes being played by the DJ and there was a general excitement around the room but with a nice friendly atmosphere too. The Forum in contrast felt like a some kind of rock concert.
It was pretty packed. It was the largest crowd I'd seen for The Beat so far. In December at the O2 Academy (liverpool) the room didn't seem to be very busy at all, I was disappointed. But then last week in the Picket (Liverpool) the place was heaving. Smaller venue true but it was rammed. The Beat were second on the bill and played a much shorter set - which still included an encore despite not being the headliners.
BBE and Myself went and stationed ourselves at the front, holding onto the barrier just left of centre - the side where Ranking Roger positions himself. Ranking Roger is definitely at the top of my list of people I'd most like to meet - the guy is a legend. Admittedly I don't much like meeting "heroes" due to my fear that they'll turn out to be a bit of a twat. Surely the sort of people who seek fame and fortune must be fairly arrogant, but I guess the list of people I'd most like to meet is fairly hypothetical anyway. I had my chance to meet Ranking Roger at the Picket when he was stood watching Levi Tafari. But I didn't take it. Besides which - what am I going to say "Hello Ranking Roger, You're a legend, I love the Beat, I've got all your records"? Well am I? Well that's probably about all I could say to justify speaking to him in the first place - right? Or alternatively I'll be struck dumb, all the pages from my brain dictionary will be ripped out one by one until I can't remember even the most ordinary mundane word like "the" or "Beat" and I'll stand there slightly open mouthed or with a stupid grin on my face and then possibly, most embarassingly I'll do what I do generally under normal circumstances and burst into a bit of Ackee 123 or some other song by The Beat, and then feel really stupid that I just burst into song, and not just any song but a song by the very person stood in front of me.
The best kind of famous person to meet is the kind you don't like. Coz then you tend to have no interest in them at all and you can speak to them like you would speak to any stranger...although why you would want to speak to strangers, or indeed celebrities you don't like is a question that renders the point rather pointless.
So anyway. Pauline Black comes out backed by Neville Staple's band. She's brilliant, slightly intimidating but has a fantastic voice. Had quite a decent bit of space in which to dance too, which is always a bonus. Although that didn't last long once Neville Staple came on. I became aware of someone pushing in next to me, muscling her way in to the barrier and holding aloft a mobile phone pointed at Neville Staple. And there it stayed, occasionally straying across my line of vision and really really pissing me off. I know gigs are crowded but there's still ways to respect other people's personal space. I noticesd with satisfaction that she kept singing the words wrong. Ha. And yeah so what if I'm going to go search for the video on youtube, and appreciate the fact that someone recorded it...so what? She was still waving a bloody phone in my face for the best part of an hour. Neville Staple was a bit of a camera whore. Kept spotting where they were and making a point of looking at them and winking, smiling and posing as much as he could. His set was brilliant. Last year the sound had been pretty bad and he was clearly not happy at all. But last night he was brilliant, entertaining and full of energy.
So then The Beat came on. Camera girl had fucked off - clearly a Specials fan and completely ignorant to the fact that The Beat are awesomer (if that is such a word) and was replaced by a man who had earlier asked me who the previous band were and was clearly a Beat fan!
Ranking Junior was still hobbling about supporting himself on a cane. Last week we'd mistakenly thought at first that he had just come out to the Picket looking all suave in a shirt and tie and a walking cane, but then quickly realised when Roger was dancing alone that he was clearly injured. I wonder if there's be physio, then some light training to get match fit...Skanking should be listed as a sport in its own right...and judging my Rogers 6 pack when he threw his tshirt into the crowd its clearly very very good for you - In fact with only 2 weeks til my holiday I'm going to go kickstart my Beat work out and skank around the house to Wh'appen!!
So the Beat set was just out of this world. It was the bestest gig ever, they played pretty much everything you could hope for (apart from Ackee 123, but I doubt they'll ever play that - no matter how many times I write on their MySpace wall) BBE got a thumbs up from Roger for singing along to Muscle Ska - a new(ish) tune co written by Ranking Roger and Neville Staple. Of course if you keep going to see a band often enough all their "new" songs stop being new, so we were both doing the Vroom Vroom Vroom Zoom Zoom Zoom dance moves to "How Do You Do" and singing along to "Dangerous".
Disaster occurred during the encore when the guitar amp packed in - just as they were about to sing Save it For Later. Ranking Junior stepped up to deliver a few words about saving the day until the sound of guitar filled the room again and Ranking Roger said "now that's what I call an upgrade"
That's one of the reasons I like Roger so much. He always looks sooooo proud of his son Ranking Junior. And he always looks so happy. He sings, he dances around and he just grins all the way through it. I truly believe that he would be one of the few celebrities who wouldn't turn out to be an arrogant twat if you met him!! (Glenn Tilbrooke from Squeeze is the other celebrity at the top of my list - in fact I only have 2 people on my list - and I have it on good authority from other people who met him that he really is a very nice bloke when you meet him!)
So I was pleased to get a nod and a smile from Ranking Roger - whether that is because he clocked that I was dressed as the Beat Girl or whether it was because I gave him a big smile when he looked in my direction I don't know...he may well have been grinning at someone behind me, or maybe he just had wind!! Maybe He thought "Bloody hell are those 2 here again???"
I dare say we will be there again...we just can't stop it!