I got a ride to the Brighton Center from my Aunt Rachael. I cannot begin to remember the last time that I was dropped off at a concert… god, that sentence just drips with adolescence. She dropped me at the door and I quickly joined the queue to get in. I presented my ticket that had been printed off of Ticketmaster; they scanned it, and in the door I went. Once inside, I traded my ticket for a wristband, as I was part of the standing crowd. I walked into the hall, where Pama International were playing. I was quickly unimpressed, so went to the bar to get a pint. It took much longer to stand in line for the pint than it took for me to drink it, which I have decided speaks volumes for the lack of quality service and the manner in which I consume alcohol. When I finally got up to the front and it was my turn to order, I got a pint of Carlsberg. The bartender asked “Is that it?” and then the man next to me said “Order three more and I’ll pay for yours.” We both knew that despite the fact that he was also now at the front of the line, it could easily be another ten minutes before he was served, so this was an awesome deal for us both. I asked if he was sure and took him up on his offer. I went back in to watch Pama International, and decided that going to buy another pint would be a much better use of my time… so I went and did just that. With my pint of Strongbow in hand, I went back into the hall to wait for The Specials to begin.
The black curtains opened, and just the same as the last time I saw them, there was a white sheet in front of the stage. Stage lights were lit, and the band members appeared like ghostly shadows on the fabric. “Enjoyyyyyyy yourself, it’s later than you thinkkkkkkk…” followed immediately by the sound of the snare drum. The sheet fell from the stage and Terry began “ALL YOU PUNKS AND ALL YOU TEDS, THE NATIONAL FRONT AND NATTY DREADS. MODS, ROCKERS, HIPPIES AND SKINHEADS, KEEP ON FIGHTING ‘TIL YOU’RE DEAD. WHO AM I TO SAY, WHO AM I TO SAY. AM I JUST A HYPOCRITE, ANOTHER PIECE OF YOUR BULLSHIT.”
It is such an incredible feeling to watch The Specials perform, and I felt full of a buzzing, glowing energy. I love Madness with an undying passion, but I think that The Specials are more and more tying with them as my favorite band. The Specials were always far more politically charged than Madness were, and it’s a staggering experience to watch a band who were the voice of a generation, speaking out against the injustice, the hypocrisy, and the bullshit. What’s amazing, and, if anything, frightening is that most of their lyrics still ring true thirty years later.
The band were even better than when I saw them in Blackpool only two weeks earlier; it was definitely worth the money I paid to see them twice. Once again, Terry seemed down, but from all that I’ve heard and read, apparently it is really rare to see him smile. At one point, someone in the crowd yelled for him to cheer up, to which he replied “Cheer up? Why, this is the happiest day of my life.”
The set was almost identical to the one they played in Blackpool, but this time their last song before the encore was “Skinhead Moonstomp,” which was just too good. The encore was the same; they came out and did Ghost Town, then disappeared again. The crowd cheered and called some more, and they came out for one final song: “You’re Wondering Now” Terry’s voice hung over our heads, haunting us as he slowly sang out “You’re wondering nowwww, what to doooooo, now you knowwww this is the end… you’re wondering nowwww, what to doooooo, now you knowwww this is the end.” And breaking those lingering notes, “OK, this really is the end, we’ve got to go, thank you!”
Perfect. I didn’t think it could get any better than Blackpool, but I was wrong. I only hope that one day in the future, I am again blessed with the opportunity to see them.
Pictures! These came out better than those from the Blackpool show because I figured what to change on the manual settings to get sharper images. Enjoy!
Roddy Radiation, with others in the background
Roddy Radiation, again
Roddy Radiation (I was on his side of the stage, so I have more and better pictures of him than of the other band members.)
Horace Panter, John Bradbury, and Terry Hall
Horace Panter and Neville Staple
I love this picture too much. Roddy Rodriguez, with Nik Torp in the background.
And Terry Hall again!
Terry Hall and Neville Staple
Perfect, perfect, perfect. I love The Specials.