Date: July 17th 2013
Opening Band: Little Hurricane
The Specials have finally returned to New York City and played an outdoor concert on the Hudson River. Pier 26 is somewhat close to the World Trade Center and has beautiful views of downtown and the Jersey City waterfront. It seemed like the entire New York ska scene was out in force last night to see The Specials. Everybody was skankin’ and having a great time, including myself.
This summer has been miserably hot and most of the day was brutal. Thankfully it cooled off by the time the Specials came on stage. This was suppose to be an early show but the cynical side of me just knew it wasn’t going to be. I still left work really early and got to the Pier by 5:30pm. Doors were suppose to be at 5pm but they didn’t let anyone in until 6pm. The Specials list wasn’t there for awhile so I hung around, hoping I was on the list. Thankfully everything got sorted and my wife Kristen and I grabbed some food. I tried the Phil Steak’s cheese steak. Not the best option for an outside show considering the steak went all over me as soon as I picked it up (no not the ska “pick it up”). Fun! Kristen and the rest of the crowd optioned for The Taco Truck. We also got some fresh samples of candy and body washes.
The opening band came on around 7pm and played for 45 minutes. They were Little Hurricane and play bluesy, honky tonk rock. While I appreciated the sound; I was really hoping to get a ska opening act. The rest of the tour has ska bands opening so not sure why NYC was different? Maybe the band was handpicked by Skabilly Roddy Radiation? In any event, the band played well but not sure the crowd appreciated them all that much. Seemed like everyone was just hanging out and had some background noise. At least that’s my observation.
I thought the Specials would go on around 8pm but they didn’t take the stage until 8:30. The sun went down so that’s probably the biggest reason for the delay start. They had great lighting so I’d probably want to wait too if I was them (plus it was cooling off). Just would have made sense to let everybody know of the correct doors time. All the negatives went out the window as soon as the band took the stage.
Terry Hall and the rest of the band were in fine form! Terry was making funny comments about listening to Billy Joel, and getting grumpy about someone tossing up their dirty flip-flops. Some hippie guy was passing out flowers throughout the show and one of those flowers ended up on stage. Terry said that it smelled really awful.
Sadly Neville Staple wasn’t on this tour but Lynval certainly filled in quite nicely for him. Roddy was his usual rock star self and doing his poses. Horace would pop in and out from the back too. And the obvious answer, no Jerry wasn’t with the band.
The band started things off with “Do The Dog” and then “Dawning of a New Era.” Not sure what they started off with last time they played NY but it was probably those. “Gangsters” was next and that’s always a great tune to hear live. After the three songs in the photo pit, I met up with Kristen in the back and could actually see behind the giant sound tent so we stayed there for most of the show. As soon as “Monkey Man” came on, we started to skank it up and didn’t let up until the end of the show. I don’t usually dance too much anymore, especially with a camera bag, but I didn’t let that stop me. The times I’ve seen the Specials in the 90s and even the show at Terminal 5, Roddy would sing “Concrete Jungle.” This time Terry ended up singing but I actually like when Roddy sings it; it’s got more power to it I think.
Other standout songs include “Rat Race,” “Why,” “Hey Little Rich Girl,” “Friday Night Saturday Morning” and “Do Nothing.” Towards the end of the set, Lynval dedicated “Message To You Rudy” to shithead George Zimmerman. Terry had some “nice” things to say to him as well.
The crowd was still dancing at this point, and they continue right onto “Nite Klub” and “Little Bitch.” The later is a personally favorite of mine and think it’s one of the best ska songs to dance to. The band finished up their set with “Too Much Too Young” and “Enjoy Yourself.” I believe they finished their encore with EY at Terminal 5. They came back to play an amazing dancehall BOOMish style version of “Ghost Town” and then ended everything up with “You’re Wondering Now.” I love hearing “Ghost Town” and particularly loved dancing to that one with my wife. We were goofing off and dancing like we were in some hip hop club.
I’m glad The Specials decided to come back again, and also glad they decided to finish the entire show. The night before in CT, Terry ended up leaving the stage early and didn’t come back. I was getting worried the show might not even happen but thankfully everything went okay! The band will be playing a few more shows before ending this tour. Hopefully this isn’t the last time I see the Specials but I treat a Specials show like a Pogues show, every show could be their last.
More photos will be posted on SkaPunkPhotos.com.