October 17, 2013

Making Noise: The English Beat, Mandy Patinkin and Rickie Lee Jones light up October

Three exciting shows, one excited fan.

By Aimsel Ponti aponti@pressherald.com
News Assistant

I’m on the best kind of bender; a live music one. It started earlier this week with The Parkington Sisters at Empire and continues with three more shows in the next three days.

click image to enlarge

Dave Wakeling, The English Beat’s front man, says the band will play new songs Thursday at Port City Music Hall.

Eugenio Iglesias photo

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Rickie Lee Jones will play with a cellist and a guitarist on Saturday at Asylum.

Astor Morgan photo

LISTEN IN: Turn your radio to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top live music picks for the week with The Captain and Celeste.

CATCH LOCAL and national acts performing live at The Press Herald on The Newsroom Sessions video page.

Tonight I’m off to Port City Music Hall to revel in my favorite ska/pop/alternative band, a band that’s been dear to many of us for many years.

The English Beat, fronted by Dave Wakeling, put Portland on its “cool places to play” list in 2009 and this will be their third time here since then. We fans, both new and old, keep going back for more because it’s always a lively affair of dancing and musical mirth.

All this from a band that only released three studio albums back in the ’80s but made a lasting impression with a bevy of tunes permanetly etched in the DNA of its fans. I still have one of their albums on vinyl, one I’ve had since college (it’s practically an antique) and every song on it has held up over time.

There have been a number of lineup changes since the glory days of the early ’80s, but the heart of the band is still Wakeling. Quick aside without confusing you too much: It should be mentioned that in England, they were and still are simply The Beat and original member Ranking Roger is fronting that outfit, whereas Brit-turned-Californian Wakeling helms The English Beat, which has been the American moniker since the beginning. And I might remind you that after the original band dissolved, General Public was formed, and who can forget “Tenderness”?

So where was I? Ah yes, recounting all the songs that make me such a big fan, there’s “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Stand Down Margaret,” “I Confess,” “Twist and Crawl,” and of course, “Save it for Later,” and there’s plenty more where that came from, including a personal favorite, their treatment of “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” first made famous by Andy Williams in the ’60s.

As for new music, Wakeling told me during a telephone chat the other day that they are indeed working on some. “We’re quite a ways down the road,” he said, adding that we can expect to hear three new songs at the show. He also said we can expect an evening of music that won’t make our ears bleed. “You can hear everything and you don’t have to wear earplugs.”

I’ve seen The English Beat two times and I can’t wait for number three. I was essentially a kid when they broke up the first time and was thrilled to learn several years back that they had reformed and were touring again. See and hear for yourself, you won’t regret it.

The English Beat. 8 p.m. Thursday. Port City Music Hall. 504 Congress St., Portland. $30; $40 VIP; 18-plus; portcitymusichall.com 

ON FRIDAY NIGHT you can find me at Merrill Auditorium, where I’ll be seeing (and reviewing for Saturday’s paper) Mandy Patinkin. Said another way, I’m seeing Inigo Montoya live. But long before I ever saw “The Princess Bride” I was obsessed with the Broadway recording of “Evita,” which I had seen in Boston. Patinkin won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Che in 1980 and that album, with the black, white and silver cover, is still a favorite, mostly due to Patinkin’s gorgeous, booming voice.

Patinkin went on to have huge roles in “Chicago Hope,” “Criminal Minds” and now “Homeland,” but his first love was singing and since he does it so very well, I can’t wait to hear him live.

Mandy Patinkin “Dress Casual.” 8 p.m. Friday, Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland. $51 to $76. porttix.com  

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