The crowd was composed of a diverse mix of fans. I even think there were people who may have never even heard of The Specials before but just came to dance and have a good time. From the opening notes of “Do the Dog” the band’s main objective was to get people moving. The stage wasn’t elaborately decorated. The band keeps it simple with a black and white backdrop. The group roared right into “Dawning of a New Era” after their opening number. In spite of the absence of Neville Staples (due to health reasons), The Specials still had incredible live energy thanks to Roddy Radiation (lead guitar), Lynval Golding (rhythm guitar and vocals), and Sir Horace Panther (bass). Sir Horace jumped around stage during almost every breakdown. The Specials lead singer, Terry Hall, stayed in relatively the same spot on the stage during the whole performance. But his witty sarcastic commentary was definitely a highlight for me especially when he admitted to being “socially retarded.”
The Specials played a wide variety of songs from their whole cataloge. Their self titled debut received the most attention with killer versions of “Gangsters”, ”Man at C & A”, “Too Much Too Young”, a lounge-y jazz of “Night Klub” and a ska classic “Monkey Man.” I was surprised how great these classics sounded but some of their later songs had a lot of grooves going on like “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” and “Do Nothing”. Towards the end of their set the Specials were on fire with the energy of “Little Bitch” the whole place was screaming “1….2″ during every stop. Lynval dedicated “Doesn’t Make It Alright” to George Zimmerman. The song written about racism in the UK over 30 yrs ago is still relevant and we are still struggling with many of the same issues.
The band closed their set with “Enjoy Yourself.” You could tell the whole band was having a blast on stage during their second tour of the US in the last few years. Every member really wants to put on a great show. The new members of the group (the horn section and keyboard player) also provided some great stage energy and backing vocals. The only omission from their set was “Skinhead Symphony“. The band came back for a quick two song encore with an extended cut of “Ghost Town” which showed off Nik Torp’s organ licks and the Studio 1 classic “You’re Wondering Now.” All in all this was a must see performance from a Two Tone powerhouse still going strong!
Here are the remaining US Tour dates. Go to their official site The Specials.
July 16: Ives Concert Park, Danbury, CT
July 17: Hudson River Park, Pier 26, New York, NY
July 18: The Paramount, Huntington, NY
July 20: Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
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