CARDS-ON-THE-TABLE TIME: I’ve seen few bands in my lifetime that are as fun to watch as the English Beat. The pop/ska band, scheduled to play the Hard Rock Café on the Strip on Nov. 9 ($22), has a number of truly great songs in their repertoire, songs that you’ll recognize from the jukeboxes in your favorite bars—including the jittery “Mirror in the Bathroom,” the menacing “Twist and Crawl,” and “I Confess,” perhaps the happiest song ever written about the fight that ends a relationship. The band’s lineup has changed drastically over the years—in fact, only singer-songwriter Dave Wakeling still remains from English Beat 1978. But where the one-remaining-member thing is usually bad news for these still-touring 1980s bands, one Wakeling is plenty. He’s a charismatic and genuinely funny bandleader who runs a tight, yet improvisational crew, and his voice hasn’t diminished one bit over the years. The English Beat is every bit as fun, and sounds nearly as good, as they did 30 years ago.
SO GLAD YOU MADE IT: Speaking of clear-voiced legends, the great Steve Winwood is performing at the Pearl on Nov. 9 ($71-$102). Winwood is one of the few blue-eyed soul performers I can name for whom the label “blue-eyed soul” doesn’t cut both ways: From the 1966 Spencer Davis Group smash “Gimme Some Lovin’” to his 1986 comeback single “Higher Love,” Winwood has been a soul singer, full stop. He never chased trends, like George Michael, and he never pandered to radio, like Michael Bolton. (In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to even mention Winwood’s name so close to Bolton’s.) He’s only ever stood at the microphone, proud but unassuming, and sang his exquisite heart out.
NOW ON SALE: The Mars Volta may be too extreme for some tastes and Yes may be winding down its career, but prog rock aficionados both young and old can still pin their hopes on Muse. The band plays at Mandalay Bay on March 17 ($46-$74). Surely Muse will be the band that helps the next generation to discover that winning combination of marijuana and Dungeons & Dragons.