Review and photography by Frank Ralph

The Selecter and The Beat, two of the best bands from the Ska and reggae scene of the late 70s and 80s brought their double headliner show to the Old Granada Studios in Manchester on Saturday night.

The Beat-15

The one word that summed up the double bill for me would be ‘fun’. Pure unadulterated FUN. That’s the outcome of putting two great bands, a great venue, a great crowd and a style of music that embraces multiculturalism and simply makes you want to move all in a pot together. FUN!

I initially thought the venue was a bit of a shed. An old studio lot on the site that Coronation Street was filmed for 4 decades. It was empty except for the magnificently dressed stage at one end and it felt huge and as if it lacked any personality. But that all changed as I watched the crowd fill up with all kinds of wonderful characters.

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The Selecter-5

The Selecter-8

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The audience were a joy to watch in themselves. Obviously a lot of them were of a certain age and probably were there the first time around, which was evidenced by the lack of mobile phones in the air, which were replaced by the amount of bouncing heads instead. A refreshing change from most gigs nowadays and a throwback to when people simply enjoyed the moment they were in.

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The Selecter-11

The Selecter hit the stage first and completely blew me away. They played a lot of tracks from their most recent release SubCulture including Breakdown with Pauline Black stating before the track, if Britain doesn’t embrace multiculturalism it will have a Breakdown. She’s right.
A few lucky people, including myself, had the opportunity to meet her quickly when we came in as she was manning the merch stall and signing things for adoring fans – she really is a woman of style and substance . One of my personal highlights of the whole night was seeing the look of pure joy that she still has on her face as she performs.

By the time they close the show with ‘On My Radio’ and ‘Too Much Pressure’ they had completely stolen the show for me – even before The Beat had come on.

The Beat

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The Beat-4

The fact that I thought The Beat were brilliant should tell you how good I thought The Selecter were. The Beat took the stage on at a time building up a groove with each member, beginning with drummer adding their part to it until Ranking Roger and his son, Ranking Junior appeared.

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The Beat-9

The energy from all of the band was infectious and the crowd responded well skunking and singing along with them. The likes of ‘Too Nice to Talk’ to ‘Hands Off She’s Mine’ were highlights in a set packed full of great tunes but it has to be ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ that is going to steal the show on any given night.

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The Beat-17

All the rude boys and rude girls had a fantastic SKAturday night and with the tour set to continue through May, and returning for more dates in September and October you’ll have plenty of chances to catch what is a spectacular show.

See more pictures from the gig on our Flickr page.

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