The English Beat, Sunday, July 15, 8 p.m., 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood, gothictheatre.com
ne of the nicest people in show biz, Dave Wakeling is also among the most prolific, especially when it comes to touring. The Birmingham-born singer, guitarist and songwriter co-founded the racially integrated ska-pop band The English Beat back in 1978, a time when ethnic tensions had reached a boiling point in the UK, thanks in large part to the emergence of the neo-Nazi National Front. (Yes, the more things change...) After releasing hit singles like “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save It for Later,” “Twist & Crawl” and the banned-from-the-airwaves “Stand Down Margaret” on the influential 2 Tone Records label, the band split down the middle: Rankin’ Roger, who’d shared center stage as The English Beat’s resident toaster and backing vocalist, continued on with Wakeling in the more pop-driven General Public (“Tenderness,” “Never You Done That”) while bandmates Andy Cox and David Steele formed the classic soul-inspired Fine Young Cannibals (“Johnny Come Home,” “She Drives Me Crazy”). Wakeling has since relocated to the West Coast, where he formed an American English Beat that’s kept the band’s legacy alive and skanking, recapturing both the infectious music and invigorating spirit of the original band at its best. Better still, fans who’ve bemoaned Wakeling’s decades-long absence from the studio can celebrate last month’s release of The English Beat’s new full-length album, Here We Go Love
. Combine those tracks with exuberant live versions of their 2 Tone hits and deep catalog — with maybe a couple of General Public songs tossed in for good measure — and you can expect this show to send you home with a smile on your face and a double-vinyl LP under your arm.