The Specials Return to the States With Powerful, Precise L.A. Set

April 16th, 2010 by Matt Diehl Leave a reply »

It’s fitting that the Specials chose Los Angeles as the location for their first reunion shows in the United States in nearly three decades. Southern California has long proven to be the American ska scene’s ground zero, spawning the likes of Sublime, No Doubt, Operation Ivy and Rancid, among others — all of whom were both clearly influenced by the U.K. “2 Tone” legends; Specials lead singer Terry Hall even co-wrote the hit “Our Lips Are Sealed” by archetypal L.A. band the Go-Gos.

So when the band hit the stage for a sold-out show at downtown Los Angeles’ Club Nokia last night, it felt like a homecoming. While missing founding member Jerry Dammers, the band otherwise featured all original members, save Dammers’ keyboardist replacement and a crack three-piece horn section. And despite the gap in years since the Specials’ last U.S. tour, when the band kicked into “Do the Dog” as its opening number, it was clear nothing had been lost in the interim. From the first note, everyone in the nearly 10-piece band played with a manic intensity that wouldn’t suggest its members were in their fifties. For the majority of the sprawling, 22 song set — drawn from the band’s classic first two albums and assorted singles — most numbers careened full stop into the next with startling, infectious velocity. If only all reunion tours felt so vital and fresh. Right off the bat, it was clear this was the real deal and not a money grab.

“Do the Dog” was an appropriate starter, its opening lines — “All you punks and all you teds/National Front and natty dreads/Mods, rockers, hippies and skinheads/Keep on fighting ’til you’re dead” — sounded like a call to arms for the multiracial tribes assembled, and a prescient reflection on the audience’s behavior. By the fourth song, “Up To You,” the crowd had grown unruly in their excitement — a little too authentic to the spirit of the original pun...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


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