Saturday, April 13, 2024

Review: The Specials thrill Wolverhampton Civic Hall crowd

  • The Specials returned to the West Midlands for a near-homecoming show in Wolverhampton
  • Brummies Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene) & Gary Powell (The Libertines) joined the band on guitar and drums respectively for this UK tour
  • A plethora of hits including Do The Dog, Ghost Down, Monkey Man and A Message To You Rudy keep Civic Hall crowd bouncing

It’s a freezing Friday night and Wolverhampton is packed with Specials fans, despite a few naysayers complaining about the reduced number of original members now in the band there is certainly an air of excitement and anticipation.

The Specials’ touring band currently consists of original members Terry Hall, Horace Panter and Lynval Golding, with other members including Tim Smart, Drew Stansall, Nikolai Torp Larsend, Pablo Mandleson, Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Cradock and The Libertines’ Gary Powell taking over drum duties following the sad passing of long-time drummer John ‘Brad’ Bradbury last year.

The Wolves Civic is packed to the rafters, it’s easy to spot the original fans who are in abundance but there are also a lot of young fans in the mix, a testament to The Specials lasting appeal.

Many are still stuck in queues for drinks when the first eerie notes of ‘Ghost Town’ start drifting through the venue, the bars are full of panic-stricken faces and people frantically make their way to the front terrified of missing a beat.

The audience are friendly if a little rough round the edges, new friends are made quickly and old mates throw arms around each other and dance around merrily, their joyful faces tell that they’ve enjoyed The Specials together many times before. Everyone is part of one big smiley, slightly drunken family tonight.

The band are on top form and although old members are missed the performance of every single person on stage is faultless and full of energy, the comradery is evident. The audience is mainly full of hard core Specials fans, so everyone knows every song, singing and dancing along through the whole 20 song set, but they go particularly bonkers for ‘Rat Race’, ‘Do the Dog’, ‘Gangsters’ and well most of it really!

Terry, Lynval and Horace are on fine form sounding as good as ever. Terry masterfully heading up proceedings, he has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.  Lynval sings a passionate and heartfelt version of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ which seems more poignant with so many sad losses and the troubled times of our day. They end their set on a very apt ‘Enjoy Yourself’ which would have been a great end to the set but of course with this fantastic turnout they were always going to treat us to more. They come back out for a 3-song encore ending on Skatalites cover ‘You’re wondering now’.

The thrilling ride finally comes to an end and people leave smiling, laughing and singing, The Specials reputation is firmly intact.

Full set list:

Ghost Town
Do Nothing
Friday Night, Saturday Morning
Man at C&A
Blank Expression
Rat Race
Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
Doesn’t make it alright
Nite Klub
(Dawning of a) New Era
Do the Dog
Concrete Jungle
A Message to you Rudy
Monkey Man (Toots & The Maytals)
Little Bitch
Too Much Too Young
Enjoy Yourself (Prince Buster)

Guns of Navarone (The Skatalites)
All the time in the world
You’re wondering now (The Skatalites)

Maryam Snape