The Selecter / The Beat featuring Ranking Roger

The Selecter / The Beat featuring Ranking Roger, Glasgow O2 ABC, 31 March 2017

If you’re considering buying a few concert tickets, and wondering whether to add a pair of fine ’80s ska bands to your shortlist, allow me to convince you that The Beat and The Selecter should be your top choice this autumn.

Back in March, I found myself in a sea of Sta-Prest, houndstooth and DMs for the hotly anticipated co-header tour from these solid 2 Tone legends. You know you’re in for a good night when you’re called from the bar by a piper standing next to Ranking Roger, blasting out a tartan medley, and sure enough, the first song we’re treated to is Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret. Unsurprisingly, this went down a treat with a mostly Scottish crowd, who were clearly expecting the big hits to be kept till the end.

Ranking Roger was in fine fettle throughout; along with fellow vocalist Ranking Jr he racked up several energetic laps of the stage (and Ranking Jr proved a hit with the ladies in the crowd with his magical opening shirt). At most gigs I’ve been to, new material is met by a mass exodus to the bar, but nobody moved this time: even The Beat’s latest offerings were effervescent and catchy. The crowd just lapped it up.

As for The Selecter’s half of the night, I’ve never seen so much love and admiration for a main singer. If I have half the energy and style of Pauline Black at 63(!) I’ll be very happy indeed. Like The Beat, they also played a chunk of newer material but they nicely complemented the older songs. Depressingly, this was because the subject matter is exactly the same and just a little bit topical: austere Tory governments shafting the poor, racism, that sort of thing. During one song a list of black men shot by police was read out, which was sobering to say the least.

The concert was rounded off with both bands giving an apparently traditional rendition of Prince Buster’s classic Madness which had the old skinheads around me standing misty-eyed, remembering the good old days. I left the venue feeling energised, politically charged, unable to feel my feet, and frankly ready for another three hours of utter joy.

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If you’d like a piece of the ska action, they’ll be playing the ABC again on 17th November, so grab tickets now. Really. Go do it now.

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