Though a mere shadow of their original line up, The Specials returned once more to the UK as part of a lengthy, much sold-out tour. Their set at Nottingham’s Rock City proved that the 2 Tone and Ska revival band are still much adored, loved and relevant.
Despite only three original members taking to the stage, the Coventry based band opened with ‘Ghost Town’, which was met with a rapturous cheer from the Nottingham crowd. The 1981 single is arguably their most iconic and has remained incredibly relevant even to this day, especially in relation to the closure of music venues and the sudden modernisation of a now more heartless music industry.
“Songs such as ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’ were well received, both creating animated sing-alongs”
Lead singer Terry Hall may not come forward as the most energetic front man, but it is his voice that allows such a reunion to continue to exist, especially considering the lack of original members. Songs such as ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’ were well received, both creating animated sing-alongs.
What was most interesting was the diversity of the crowd, acting as an ode towards the longevity and mass influence of The Specials. People both young and old made up a friendly, peaceful crowd which clearly shared guitarist Lynval Golding’s anger towards both Brexit and a non harmonious society.
“Although nothing can replace the aura of the Coventry formed band’s original drummer, Powell did well to encapsulate Bradbury’s sound and spirit”
Golding’s cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ was also an obvious highlight of the night, along with the introduction of world renowned ‘A Message to You Rudy’. The latter, originally released by Dandy Livingston in 1967, merely reached number 10 in the charts upon its release in 1979. However, its popularity has grown ever since, and to this day it is a regular in venues and clubs alike.
The Libertines’ Gary Powell was bought in to replace John Bradbury after his tragic death in December 2015 at the age of 62. Although nothing can replace the aura of the Coventry formed band’s original drummer, Powell did well to encapsulate Bradbury’s sound and spirit. As the man who manages to keep notorious frontmen Pete Doherty and Carl Barat in time and order, Gary Powell is in his own right an incredibly talented drummer.
One question which was pondered heavily before the gig was the expensive price of a ticket. At almost £50 a head, many wondered whether such a hefty price in modern terms really encapsulated the true spirit of The Specials or whether their latest tour is merely a money making ploy. However, such a night of high energy and a set list of their greatest hits dispelled such a question.
The band closed with an amalgamation of greatest hits including ‘Do The Dog’, ‘Monkey Man’ and ‘Enjoy Yourself’. It is incredible to see how the band have improved songs which may not have been written by them in the first place. They have certainly added their own mark. This was the case with the previous three examples.
As usual, the band closed with ‘You’re Wondering Now’ and were cheered lovingly off stage. One has to wonder whether we will see The Specials tour so extensively again, especially considering the regularity of line up changes. However, with such an adoring fan base and long lasting political message it is clear that the sound of The Specials shall remain for an eternity.
Charlie is listening to Digsaw by The Wytches
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