2 Nov 2011

"And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed
they were not here."
You know I've been to several gigs over the years both large and small. I helped to create the earthquake at Madstock in 1992. I have seen Bad Manners quite literally rock the stage until the speakers fell over at the Blandford corn exchange. I was there in 1993 in France when Russell from the mighty Bigshot wandered over to me and told me he “Couldn't play as his lips were pissed.” I've seen ska legends like Prince Buster, Pauline Black and I've had my pen stolen by Laurel Aitken. I've seen groups as diverse as Mud, 808 state, Carter the unstoppable sex machine, The Buzzcocks , Morrissey, 999 and The UK Subs. I've also shouted/sung myself hoarse to Ian Dury twice.
That said the other night's excursion to the Specials tour was something rather … special (sorry). I enjoyed my annual 'being dragged out to the Bournemouth International Centre by Jimmy' last year when I went to see Paul Weller. That in itself was a fantastic concert populated as it was by 50 something mods in their 'just unpacked from the army surplus' parkas complete with the tell tale square crease in the back.
27th of October however is a day that I shall not forget in a hurry.... and not just because I've been constantly playing the gig on my iPod for the last week either. After the two support bands, By the Rivers and Stone Foundation had both done their excellent sets and had praised the crowd for being better than Brighton and Plymouth in atmosphere and actually interacting with them The Specials began.
A brief slide show began on the backdrop starting as it did with the enormous visage of Herr Margaret Thatcher to rapturous boos.  This was appropriate as we all know the band came to the attention of the world on the post punk wave of anger that followed the winter of discontent of James Callaghan's Labour party that lead to the inevitable rise of Thatcher's evil reign. (long memory very angry still).  Anyway the slide show continued with the heroes and villains of the last thirty years, British troops (cheers), Paul Gascoine (big cheers) royal couples (mixed cheers and boos), Blair, Brown and Cameron (enormous boos) and then all of a sudden John Barry's theme from the Persuaders dies down and Neville greets all with the now famous opening “Bernie Rhodes knows don't argue.”  
 The years fell away for all us elderly Rude Boys and Girls.  There was none of the usual minutes of banter between songs for the first few tracks at least. The set list was almost all of the two albums.  No Guns of Navarone or Skinhead Symphony but here's the set list. 
01-Intro – Gangsters
02-Do The Dog
03-Dawning of a New Era
04-Up To You
05-Monkey Man
06-Blank Expression
07-Rat Race
08-Too Hot
09-Doesn't Make it Alright
10-Hey Little Rich Girl
11-Pearl's Cafe
12-Stupid Marriage
13-Concrete Jungle
14-International Jet Set
15-Friday Night Saturday Morning
16-Stereotypes (parts 1&2)
17-Man at C & A
18-Do Nothing
19-A Message To You Rudy
20-Nite Klub
21-Too Much Too Young
22-Enjoy Yourself
23-Ghost Town
24-Little Bitch
25-You're Wondering Now
A cracking set altogether I think you'll agree. Terry was funny all through the night with his remarks about “You'd better be worth it I'm missing fucking Sarah Beeny's restoration project for this.” Linval came out and told us all we were the best crowd on the tour so far during the interval before the encore. Yeah sure there was no Jerry Dammers, Dick Cuthell or Rico Rodiguez but the keyboardist and brass section did a more than adequate job to fill in for them. The three string instruments at the back added to the sound and I'm glad I bought the cd. To be honest out of the five gigs or so that I've been to at the B.I.C. This was the most packed I'd ever seen it, even Apul Weller and Madness had space at the side of the Wessex hall dancefloor.
Despite Terry's insistence on singing Wham's Last Christmas and declaring his love for George Michael the set continued and I could see the mass of skinheads and feather cuts danced and bobbed away and danced and sang as the music played... sounds familiar, anyway as I sat in the best seats in the house, (thanks again Emma), I felt my age by thinking how glad I was to be not on the dancefloor what with my bad back and all. Mind you most of the crowd below were my age group and it was just me being a curmudgeon or realising I'm no longer 19 take your pick.
If you get a chance to go to this or the hinted at 2013 tour go for the love of all that is precious go. I spoke to several of my cunt-stomers in the shop the next day who had obviously gone to the gig and we were all unanimous that it was the best gig we'd all been to in a loong long time.