THE SPECIALS Concert Review (9/23/16, Warfield)

“A Very Special(s) Evening”

I was very excited to see the Specials perform at the Warfield in San Francisco on Friday, September 23rd from the front row at their sold-out concert. This was a show that felt like it could have easily not happened under the circumstances. The last two years have been tough ones for the band and its fans. Original member Roddy Radiation officially left the band in 2014 and original drummer John Bradbury unexpectedly passed away in December of 2015. As such, this concert felt like one of those precious opportunities that come rarely in life, where the stars align and you experience the inexplicable. Such was the magic of seeing the Specials perform live.

The band played hit after hit, with a palpable sense of presence. The set list for the evening was:

Ghost Town

Do Nothing

Friday Night, Saturday Morning

Stereotype

Man at C&A

Blank Expression

Rat Race

Hey Little Rich Girl

Why?

Doesn’t Make It Alright

Nite Klub

(Dawning of a) New Era

Gangsters

It’s Up to You

Concrete Jungle

A Message to You, Rudy

Monkey Man

Little Bitch

Too Much Too Young

 

Encore:

Guns of Navarone

Enjoy Yourself

You’re Wondering Now

By the time the final encore track was played, the audience had experienced a deluge of lively, danceable songs adeptly invoking the spirit of working class ethos and racial tolerance so needed in today’s tumultuous and stratified world. On more than one occasion during the concert Lynval Golding even spoke to this, referencing the Black Lives Matter movement and the continued presence of racism and bigotry in the 21st Century. This stood as a constant reminder to me that the songs that meant so much to me in youth (whether it was the alcohol-inspired merrymaking and misanthropy of “Nite Club” and “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” or the working-class pessimism of “Ghost Town”) were still vitally relevant and much needed in today’s world.

After the concert I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Terry and Lynval where I got a number of Specials, Colourfield and Fun Boy Three LPs autographed.  I have heard various stories about Terry, in particular, being shy and reclusive, but he seemed genuinely grateful and appreciative of the adoring fans positive words to their beloved icon. It was the perfect end to a memorable night seeing this iconic band.

For information about the band and their upcoming projects check out www.thespecials.com.

Jason Reed
Inner Edge Music

 

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