On Snow Patrol Followed by The English Beat – A December to Remember

english_beat.jpgI often find myself in a quandry when seeing bands in the winter. How do I get from my car to the venue and back without freezing to death if I leave my coat in the car? If I wear my coat from the car to the venue and back, what do I do with my coat during the show?

At last night’s Snow Patrol show, I carried my coat the entire night because the coat check was closed. It was a sold out show at The Crystal Ballroom, and if you’ve ever been to one of their sold out shows, you know it’s really hot and crowded. I concluded that carrying my coat all night totally sucked, as evidenced by my sore biceps (it was a stupidly heavy leather coat) this morning. Although, I suppose a bicep workout isn’t a bad thing for an anti-gym bunny like myself! In any case, for tonight’s English Beat show I shucked off my coat at the car and fled several blocks in the cold to reach the venue, only discover a fully functional coat check in operation. Sheesh.

Now why would the coat check be open for The English Beat crowd, but not the Snow Patrol crowd? Perhaps it’s indicative of the crowds themselves? Snow Patrol has a top 40 hit called Chasing Cars blaring on the rotation of every radio station in town. I was sort of horrified when I first heard it softly crooning from my coworker’s office. My coworker listens to “soft rock” during most of the year, and then the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day she has it on an “all holiday music, all the time” station. Headphones are my friends.

Snow Patrol is a cool band from Belfast. Easy Listening they are not, but their ballads are lovely. The mix of radio stations playing them lent itself to a mixed crowd of teenagers through gray-hairs. I have no clear idea what that has to do with the coat check, but feel free to comment if you think of something. Beyond that, Gary’s voice was “going off” as he put it thanks to being ill so the show wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It sounds like they’re coming back in February (they ought to just move here) so maybe I’ll catch them again. If they play a bigger venue though, I’m out of the game.

The English Beat crowd was for the most part all in their 30’s and early 40’s. We were the ones who grew to adulthood listening to them. I never thought I’d see them live. I felt that way about Echo and the Bunnymen last year too, but this was way more fun. They put on a fantastic, energetic show and the entire crowd was dancing. One thing I’ll say for it, The Crystal has a great floor for ska! The floating wood floor makes you bounce along with everyone whether you want to or not. I’m not sure it’s a super great idea to have drunk people bouncing with pints of beer held over their heads but, there you go.

I kept a wary eye on the drunken, bleached hair dude who was sometimes next to me. I say “sometimes” because, well, let’s just say he got around a bit. I’m pretty sure by the time I got there most of his beer was already on the floor, if not someone’s head, which is precisely where the last of his beer ended up. The guy he doused was good-natured about it, as one can’t really be too cranky at an EB show. The ironic thing is that my friend got a nice round of beer dumped down the back of his leg last night at the SP show, by a guy who was standing completely still. You just never know when the beer gods are going to anoint you.

Like the saying about it not being a party until someone spills a beer, The EB pointed out that it’s not really a party until someone ruins a perfectly good Motown song. And with that, they launched into Tears of a Clown. I had forgotten how many songs they have that I like. I had also forgotten how much fun ska is live. The last ska band I saw was in the mid-90’s in Seattle when Black Happy played Bumbershoot. I could count the short set from The Clash tribute a few weeks ago but I wasn’t paying enough attention.

There are a few other interesting shows this month but I think it’s time for a short break. I might even make it two weeks before I break down and head for a show. I have a serious backlog of books waiting to be read…



  1. Yep, it was fun!

  2. Jeff Said:

    I know one of those old people you were with, and sad to say I knew him when English Beat was au courant. Oh the inhumanity!

  3. Steve Said:

    Great review of both shows! They were both great, but English Beat takes the cake for fun. I really can’t imagine any way the show might have been better. Like you, I never dreamed I’d actually see them live at this point — a full 28 years after they were formed! And they all looked great! We talked about that after the show. Were they toddlers when they started the band or have they found the fountain of youth? Definitely a December to Remember. Thanks 94/7 and Crystal Ballroom!

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