Concert Review with PHOTOS: The Selecter & The Beat

Photos by Reuben Raj

Photos by Reuben Raj

By Labretta Suede

Artist: The Selecter & The Beat

Date / Venue: Wednesday January 24th, 2018 - The Powerstation, Auckland


Entering The Powerstation at 8:30pm to a very sparse dance floor would usually have me feeling let down, but instead it just made me grab my partners hand and fill that gap. Front and centre we stood and within seconds the place filled with just enough room to attempt a half-assed skank.

Having seen The Beat some 6 years ago in the USA fronted by Dave Wakeling, which was very much like the cruise boat versions of the band. I was apprehensive.

But fuck me. Ranking Full Stop, Awight!

Ranking Roger and his son Ranking Junior’s (Matthew Murphy) unrelenting Beat on a muggy and steaming Auckland night was not only impressive but contagious.

Rude Boys!

Rude Boys!

Rude Boys


Rude Girls!

Rude Girls!

Rude Girls!

Ah the whiff of nostalgia but nope stay in the moment, like you had never seen this show before and ya know, I most certainly hadn’t. Seeing Ranking Roger and Ranking Junior skank and bounce across the stage, dear I say riffing off one another and only three songs deep and into ‘Hands Off She Mine’, with solid audience participation was reminiscent of my misspent youth of some 30 years ago.

Only to then showcase their songs ‘Side to Side’ and ‘Avoid the Obvious’ from their most resent album released in 2016, ‘Bounce’.

This was Ska, Reggae, 2 Tone, Multiculturalist royalty, with a message of Love and Unity throughout the whole show in this time of unrest and segregation. A different decade from the world this band grew out of but with the same message. Much like in the 70’s and 80’s when this band was at its peak with songs such as ‘Stand Down Margaret’. Now, fast forward to 2018. Can you believe this band is just as relevant now? Roger speaks about "All world leaders, they are all at war. There is a future in man, there is a future if we unite” seguing into ‘Fire Burn’ and the hits kept rolling with ‘Can’t Get Used To Losing You’, ‘Tears Of A Clown’ & ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’.

Political, tender, vibrant, upbeat, inclusive and so much fun, I hadn’t hugged bald men whilst shouting lyrics in quite some time and gotten away with it. 30 years ago I would’ve had my teeth knocked out at a different themed sub-culture night.

Phew, intermission, but not the light of day just yet as we all joyously embraced and prepped for round 2.

Cue The Selecter with Pauline Black & Arthur 'Gaps' Hendrickson. That harmonious vocaled duo soothed your ears while Pauline’s strong, delightful and enigmatic stage presence owned it. Her always top-notch vocals and performance whilst sporting an extremely tailored style with matching crimson socks and handkerchief in the right pocket of her double breasted suit. Being eye height with her shoes, you couldn’t overlook the eye candy of her tasslled, brothel creepers either (yes, you can still buy them from the deep dark web).

The players were on point and had a comedic yet odd dichotomy between the big guy, little sax and little guy, big sax scenario. I must confess it had me struggling for breath with hilarity many a times. The sound of the Nord keyboard through a giant revolving Lesley speaker bought the voodoo….

The unmistakeable ‘Too Much Pressure/Pressure Drop’ call and response with the crowd and there was most certainly ‘Missing Words’  (a great song, that got EVERYONE singing and moshing – including a bit of argy bargy) but this set was also missing some hits. 

If you had never seen them before you would be thoroughly impressed as Pauline professionalism and performance carried the show, but having seen them a few years back at The Studio in Auckland, I felt like this set list was lacking…. I would have loved to have heard Murder, My Collie, Celebrate the Bullet but we definitely all left feeling like a three-minute hero. Especially since I got in a quick peck on the cheek while Pauline was selling the last three items left at the merch stall.

Neither band in my opinion is a heritage band. They are both relevant with an admissible message that still needs to be shared regarding sexism, multiculturalism, community and the merits of sub-culture and expression.

Love and unity, the only way