The Specials are, quite rightly, legends within the music industry. Their status has been gained not only by their own output but by the influence they have cast over the industry as a whole. Socio-political lyrics with some damned fine tunes has been their go to for over 40 years and tonight they have brought the package to Glasgow at (hopefully) the tail end of a period of plague ridden political and social strife and hardship known to us all as COVID -19.
The weather tonight seems somewhat fitting as a rain soaked east end of Glasgow is taken over by excited fans of the group who’ve waited the best part of two years for some release from sitting at home in lockdown or being governed by sometimes baffling rules. Tonight they can forget some of those rules as the rude boys are in town.
The famous venue is packed to the rafters by fans of a certain age and the attire of the day is a throwback to polo shirts and pork pie hats, patch strewn jackets and lager…
The already excited crowd can be contained no longer as the band take to the stage – 25 minutes late — and tear immediately into ‘Rat Race’. The Specials have brought that much needed release to the adoring crowd and, for a short time at least, COVID-19 is forgotten.
The main reason for the tour is to support the new album ‘Protest Songs – 1924-2012’ but let’s be honest, no-one in the crowd could care less. They are here to reminisce, to have a blow out, to sing and to dance. Yes, they’ll buy the album and they’ll buy the t-shirt but tonight is all about the Rude boys and the skank.
The band is on fantastic form and I’m sure Terry Hall even managed a smile at one point; no, seriously! Unfortunately he misjudged part the crowd and the general feeling in Scotland with a statement on our political leaders and this lead to a somewhat mixed reaction. Know your audience…
The undoubted star of the show is Lynval Golding… his dress sense was on point; his stage presence and unbridled joy was there throughout the whole show. The only time his huge, infectious smile disappeared briefly was when he also made an ill judged political statement which, once again, brought a mixed reaction from the crowd.
A false start to ‘Too Much Too Young’ brought the aforementioned smile to the face of Terry Hall, ‘A Message to you Rudy’ and all of the familiar classics are given an airing to much acclaim and huge singalongs before the end inevitably comes in the shape of ‘Ghost Town’ and ‘You’re Wondering Now’ before the band leave the stage to huge acclaim.
Age and time may have withered the visual appearance (as it does to us all) but the sonic experience in legendary venue was without fault.
In what seemed like a fleeting moment the rude boys and girls (and a healthy number of younger new fans) were back in the wet, dark and somewhat depressing streets of Glasgow and back into their C-19 controlled lives, craving their next dose of live musical release.