Gig review: The Beat, Edinburgh

“We’ve got a style to suit everybody,” affirmed long-serving Beat frontman “Ranking” Roger Charlery during this lengthy set of classics from the group he led for five years and three albums around the turn of the 1980s.

The Beat
The Beat
The Beat

The Beat - Liquid Room, Edinburgh

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That may be so, but only if your tastes filter down to the various permutations within ska, two-tone and straight reggae.

It’s fair to say, however, that Roger’s reconvened group aren’t just two-tone in their racial diversity these days, but in the cultural tribes they appear to belong to. A going concern once more since 2006 – they’ve now been revived for three years longer than they were active – the Beat’s distinctively more youthful bassist and guitarist appear as though they might be better suited to a nu-metal band. Yet their sound was impressively authentic alongside original drummer Everett Morton, while a saxophonist provided essential support.

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Birmingham-born Roger, meanwhile, was joined by his son Matthew, aka Ranking Junior, on vocals, lending an important breadth of harmonies and call and responses to the voice parts, although the dynamic did leave the audience with the odd sight of it being the dreadlocked elder man of 52 years spending much of the show with his T-shirt rolled up to his midriff, exposing a wiry frame.

Similarly the Beat’s music, contemporaneous with the likes of the Specials, was just as eternally young, including their medley of ska classic Whine & Grine and Stand Down Margaret, the dancehall sound of Hands Off… She’s Mine, and a lengthily spun-out version of their bass-rumbling signature track Mirror in the Bathroom whose welcome was never outstayed.

Seen on 15.02.14