It’s hard to believe that The Specials have been doing their thing for over forty years now so come on out and celebrate the huge milestone with them on Friday, June 7th at First Avenue.
The Specials are back with ten songs on a brand new album. Influential, important and exhilarating live, they are a band embedded in this country’s DNA. It is impossible to envisage the musical landscape without them, from the startling, angular Gangsters in 1979 to their swan song, the epoch-making Ghost Town in 1981. They infused ska with punk, homegrown political anxiety with wider issues. The Specials’ ascendancy was swift.
Two years, seven hit singles including two number ones, two hit albums, sell-out tours – the mass stage-invasions and audience energy only adding to the myth. They were everywhere; on Top of the Pops, Radio One, nightclubs and school discos. At the time, the nation could not have seemed more polarised: far right youth cults, violence on the streets, conservative government. Their demise, however, was rapid.
In 2009, with Britain in another recession, the Specials reform to play live – without founding member Jerry Dammers who clashes with the others during initial rehearsals. Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, Horace Panter, John Bradbury, Neville Staple and Roddy “Radiation” Byers play a sell-out tour and the offers keep coming. “There was never a long term plan,” says Horace, the Special’s extremely grounded, polite bassist. “But before we knew it, it was 2012. Then Neville quit, out of ill health, Roddy quit thank goodness, so four of us were left, all facing in the right direction, all in agreement. “Towards the end of 2015 Lynval, Brad and I got together in a little rehearsal room and we recorded some demos on a handheld mic,” continues Horace. “Then of course Brad dies [in December 2015, of a heart attack]. It took a year or so to pick ourselves back up again.
The irony of course is that forty years ago the Specials embodied the state of the nation – seven voices as one from a typically dispossessed UK town. Now, in 2018, we have had a conservative government in office, recession and “austerity” measures which have dealt a direct hit at the vulnerable. Much has become full circle. “Scary isn’t it?” says Horace. “We don’t have to preach at all – although I don’t think we ever did anyway. The songs are relevant – but then I always say injustice is timeless.”
The genius of the Specials is that they are still observers, not commentators. The genius of the Specials is that they know what pop music is.
L.A. Salami will be opening up the show and believe me when I say to not miss this guy. L.A. Salami (Lookman Adekunle Salami) is a singer/songwriter from London, England known for crafting magnetic blues-rock songs with a postmodern twist. Salami was fostered when he was two months old and grew up between his birth mother in Peckham, South London and his foster family in Broadstairs on the English coast. Much of his teens and early twenties were spent on the move, rarely settling in one place for more than few months at a time. It was this lifestyle that provided him with a unique insight about life in the city, something that he would later use to fuel his songwriting, both lyrically and conceptually.
Tickets are still available HERE!
Remaining Tour Dates:
05/22 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
05/23 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
05/24 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
05/25 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
05/27 – Las Vegas, NV @ Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival
05/28 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
05/30 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
05/31 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
06/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Novo
06/03 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren
06/05 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
06/07 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
06/08 – Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
06/10 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
06/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
06/14 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
06/15 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
06/17 – Montreal, QB @ Corona Theatre
06/18 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
06/19 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
06/22 – Groningen, NL @ Stadspark Life Festival
07/12 – Wert, NL @ Bospop Festival
07/20 – Nottingham, UK @ Splendour Festival
08/23-24 – Portsmouth, UK @ Victorious Festival