The Specials entered the stage to a backdrop of images cataloguing the last 30 years – photo’s of Mrs Thatch, Poll Tax Riots, Anti War Demos, and finishing off with a mugshot of Cameron. Are they trying to tell us nothing has changed? Maybe.
Musically the big change is that Jerry Dammers is no longer playing in The Specials, but most fans are over this following a hugely successful comeback tour last year. This time round it’s bigger venues, but the same classic sounds. They open with Gangsters and Terry Hall sounds as fresh as ever.
Quickly they rattle through Do The Dog & New Era just to get everyone warmed up. Only then do they take a breath to greet the crowd – mostly over 40, overweight men, arm in arm on the dancefloor.
Most of the band have played these songs over the last 30 years in some shape or form – with their own bands, or solo acts etc, but it’s the return of Terry Hall that makes the big difference. Still sullen, sarcastic and caustic only he can do these songs justice, and galvanise the rest of the band to play as they once did.
Tracks from More Specials stand up well – Enjoy Yourself, Pearl’s Cafe, Hey Little Rich Girl nestle nicely with searing versions of Concrete Jungle and Monkey Man.
Terry told the crowd they were the best of the tour and kindly said we were all added to the guest list for the rest of the tour.
A show that never flagged, ended with You’re Wondering Now (What To Do?). The Specials are perhaps asking themselves the same question?
In the same way Madness tours will never capture that Madstock moment, this comeback was hot, but not too hot if compared to last years shows.