Dave Wakeling's first performances were in front of a full-length mirror in his mother's bedroom, pretending to be The Rolling Stone's guitarist Brian Jones.
"My mum would go out and I would go straight upstairs with a cricket bat and a wig on," says Wakeling, who became a guitarist/singer for the seminal ska band The English Beat. "I could sing for hours."
Formed in Birmingham, England, in 1979, The Beat (the English demarcation was added when the group came to the U.S.) was instrumental in the early '80s ska revival that dovetailed with punk and new wave and included bands like Madness and The Specials. The group released three albums and had several hits including "Mirror in the Bathroom" and a cover of Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown," before disbanding in 1983. Wakeling had similar success with General Public, a group he formed with members of The Specials, The Clash and Dexys Midnight Runners, whose drummer lives in the Fresno area.
"It's a rare honor, and a long way from playing a cricket bat in front of a mirror," Wakeling says. "I could celebrate that forever."
He does, in a way, by continuing to make music with a new incarnation of The English Beat, which plays tonight at Fulton 55. While the band hasn't released a proper album since 1983, Wakeling has 20 songs ready to record and release as an English Beat album this summer. He's also working on the third in a series of compilation albums that benefits the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Still, performing is priority.
"It's my favorite thing to do. Any day I'm not doing it, I miss it," Wakeling says.
The live show is therapy, an opportunity to be truly in the moment with the audience. At a good show, the performer, the audience and the music all become one.
It's mass consciousness, Wakeling says, and it's getting tougher to achieve. Every person who pulls out a cell phone to grab some video or take a picture breaks that connection. He wishes they wouldn't. Not that he cares about copyright laws or people illegally sharing his music. Filming a show is not the same at watching it, he says.
"The crowd forgets sometimes that they're at least 50% responsible for how a show goes. You can't have mass consciousness with half the people filming the thing to enjoy it later."
The English Beat, 8 p.m. Friday night, Jan. 24, at Fulton 55, 875 Divisadero St., with Fresno's Let's Go Bowling. Tickets are $20-$25. Details: (559) 412-7400, www.fulton55.com
A life on the road
9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24 / Audie's Olympic Tavern, 1426 Van Ness / $12-$15 / (559) 233-3733, Audie's Olympic on Facebook
John Corabi was the voice that replaced Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil on the band's 1994 self-titled album. He was also a founding member of the '90s rock band The Scream and played guitar for Ratt.
So the guy has some stories to tell. He will share them during his one-man acoustic show, which stops Friday night at Audie's Olympic Tavern. Local rockers Gutterfish open the show.
7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26 / Strummer's, 833 E. Fern Ave. / $20 / (559) 485-5356, www.numbskullshows.com
Max Cavalera has been a defining voice in death metal music since the mid-'80s, first with the Brazilian band Sepultura (whose 1997 release "Roots" was named one of the 50 heaviest albums of all time) and then with his current group Soulfy, which will be in town Sunday night at Strummer's.
Hatefx, Amenthes and Azazel open the show.
The Truth About Love
8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30 / Save Mart Center / $39.75-$99.75 / (559) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com
We won't known until Sunday night, Jan. 26, whether pop-songstress Pink will be a Grammy winner (her duet with Fun singer Nate Ruess was nominated for Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo). It shouldn't matter.
The singer sells albums — she was Billboard magazine's Woman of the Year in 2013 with 886,000 albums sold. She also sells tickets. Her extended "Truth About Love" tour continues to play to sold-out audiences. The show — which features the singer doing high-flying acrobatics — is in Fresno on Thursday at the Save Mart Center.
This reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, firstname.lastname@example.org or @joshuatehee on Twitter.