Have you ever had the fantasy of hosting your favorite band in your own backyard? You know, having a huge party (maybe it’s your birthday bash) where say, the Clash, or perhaps Wilco, or if you’re thinking really big, maybe Mick, Keith & the boys (“Ladies and gentleman, please welcome…the Rolling Stones!”) play your private party for just you and a few hundred of your closest friends and family. I know I’ve always entertained this dream. One of my best friends, when he was back at Long Beach State, hired a local band to rock his fraternity’s annual huge block party. The band? Sublime. Remember them? Of course you do – they enjoyed huge modern rock hits in the mid-90s (“What I Got,” “Santaria,” “Wrong Way,” “Date Rape”) and my buddy booked them just before they got signed to Geffen records and took over modern rock radio. What a coup!
The legendary Dave Wakeling took over Temecula’s Wine Country with his current version of the English Beat (Dave – lead guitar/vocals, Antonee First Class – toaster, Rhythmm Epkins – drums, Wayne Lothian – bass, Raynier Jacildo – keys, Matt Morrish – Sax) and turned the landscaped courtyard at Wiens into a “backyard party,” where amazing wine (Wiens’ Crowded was my choice for the evening), great food, and the Beat’s iconic songs added up to make a memorable evening for about 600 of their luckiest fans. I haven’t seen Temecula have this much fun since, well, the last time the English Beat played Wiens (this was their 3rd year).
Leading off with “Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret” (a perfect opener, as the chorus sounded like “wine and dine,” which is what everyone in the crowd was doing) and then heading into their classic version of “Tears of a Clown,” Dave & the Beat easily took control of the night and at least 50 concert goers immediately jumped out of their seats and began dancing to the Beat’s unique Ska/Reggae/New Wave sound. Those who were teens when the English Beat’s first album was released found themselves “skanking” to their steady, rhythmic, hypnotic groove. The front of the stage filled up with revelers reliving the early 1980s and the party was on!
As the evening darkened and the full moon shone brighter, Dave and the gang kept the energy level high with rousing versions of “I’ll Take You There,” “I Confess,” and “Best Friend,” all well-known English Beat tracks. After taking a break between sets, they saved their biggest hits for last, as their second set consisted of “Save it for Later” (their biggest state-side hit), “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” (their ska version of the Andy Williams classic), “Tenderness” (from Dave’s General Public days), and of course, “Mirror in the Bathroom,” which ended the evening with the entire stage filled with dancing and singing concert-goers. There were so many fans taking over the stage, you couldn’t even see Dave and his band! Needless to say, tonight’s English Beat concert turned out to be the party event of the Temecula summer.
Presented once again by Golden Crown Productions, this evening’s proceeds went to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest County, a Riverside County organization that provides a safe, supervised, and structured environment for young people. Serving more than 600 local youths a day via its innovative programs and fun activities, it’s “The Positive Place for Kids.”