You can read my full review of The Selecter’s appearance at Paradise Rock Club in Boston at bostonska.net. But the piece I really want to highlight here is just how inspired I was after walking away from the set. I’ve seen lots of bands and I goto lots of shows. Many of them are a very good time and a select few of them are a really amazing time. I often walk away energized to make my own music. Pauline Black left me in awe of what a performer can be. She was an actress, a singer, a conductor, a dancer, and a part of the audience all at once.
What happened next was a never ending exchange of energy between the band and the audience, members of the audience and each other, and band mates with each other. Particularly, Pauline and Gaps had this unbelievable chemistry between them. They were performing for each other just as much as they were performing for the audience, and it only made for a more engaging show. My girlfriend commented that Pauline had theatrical qualities about her. She was expressive and animated from start to finish and it only made you want to dance more. Her voice and range seem to have no limits, seamlessly jumping between the highs and the lows. It became very apparent why many people credit her as an influence.
She and The Selecter also exemplified something I strive for in every band I play in, and something I look for in every band I see: the ability to make a show a party with an audience that feels a part of the show. This is more than a basic performer-audience dynamic (which certainly has its place).
Party on stage equals party off stage. If a suited up bari sax player can dance, so can you. Pauline closed by saying “This is what a two tone band sounds like!” I’d go a step further and say “this is what a ska band looks like and plays like.” And I’m not talking about the suits.