Gig Review: The Beat and Bow Wow Wow at Rock City

Words: Michael Prince
Photos: Michael Prince
Thursday 29 June 2023
reading time: min, words

Michael Prince saw The Beat and Bow Wow Wow take the Rock City stage...

Leftlion (7)

I was booked to review The Beat tonight having seen them come up as a potential gig months ago and thought: “why not? A bit of Ska, always good,” and then found out they were being supported by Bow Wow Wow. So in some ways I was there to see Bow Wow Wow first and The Beat second. As it turned out, they were both excellent and there was nothing in my heart to split me between them. Quite often people say they are not interested in politics and it’s not important. Tonight it was important - both bands were passionate about their politics and they made it clear.

Making a dramatic entrance, Annabella, the original teen singer of Bow Wow Wow, half danced and half marched her way onto stage. She made the point time and time again about the importance of helping others in the charity funding she has initiated in her music. Wearing a “One Love” Bob Marley top she was absolutely right. Afterwards, she was happy to meet fans, and acknowledged her friends who had arrived and waited patiently for her. She is a true star, putting others ahead of herself. “Is it the big one?” someone asked when she was announcing one of the songs to which she said it might be, and it was. In Go Wild In The Country, she bounced around the stage, happy in the moment. Bow Wow Wow blended pop, punk and reggae in that heady 80’s underground sound that broke into the charts. 

Leftlion (6)

Dave Wakeling came on stage and made the point that over 30 years on nothing has changed: the Tories are in power, there is a threat of nuclear weapons, inflation is spiralling out of control and The Beat are still playing..   

The Beat had nine, yes NINE, musicians on stage tonight. The were roaring through old and new stuff, including songs I’d forgotten about and was incredibly happy to hear again. The Beat are still there making the point about injustice, but they make it so you want to dance and enjoy the night with such exuberance as well. There was so much love in the audience and so much joy in the music. I loved the songs Hands Off She’s Mine and Mirror In The Bathroom, which brought back long lost memories. People were dancing at the bars, dancing at the rear of the venue, and naturally dancing at the front. Everyone was happy.

Age does not stop you, as a new generation discovered the music and the message. Yes, Ska is important and does not get anything near enough radio play. Tonight was not only political, it was immensely fun.  There were so many smiling faces and love really was in the air.

With a final flourish of “We are The Beat, Nottingham keep it sweet. Love and respect,” they said it all.

The Beat and Bow Wow Wow played Rock City on June 26 2023.

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