Date: September 9th, 2016
Opening Band: The Far East
The last time The Specials played in New York City (in 2013), Roddy was still playing guitar for them. Sadly, it was also the last time I saw John Bradbury play drums for the band before passing away last year. The band continues on with Terry, Sir Horace, Lynval, Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene/Paul Weller), Gary Powell (The Libertines) and the others. The first stop on their US tour was in New York City and it was awesome, sold out night out filled with dancing, singing, and spotting celebrities in the crowd.
The day & night was a hot, humid, sweaty mess. Walking around Manhattan before the show made me sticky and gross before I even got inside the venue. I arrived few minutes before the show was going to start and Terminal 5 was filling up quickly. The Far East arrived on stage right at 8pm and gave a strong performance. They are a reggae/rocksteady band from Brooklyn, fronted by guitarist/singer Maddie Ruthless. I never saw the band before so I was curious to see how they were. I’ve been in a rocksteady mood lately, especially with the release of the flawless “Nothing More To Say” by The Frightnrs. The Far East gave respect to Brukky (Dan Klein) before one of their songs as well. Not sure what songs the band played but they won the crowd over by the end of their set. I’ll definitely check out their music.
The Specials took the stage and started things off with “Ghost Town.” Since Neville isn’t with the band anymore, Lynval took over a lot of his singing duties. I honestly thought they might have opened with a song that paid tribute to Prince Buster since he passed away the night before. They did that later on though. After shooting the 3 songs, I went up into the VIP section to watch the rest of the set. As soon as I sat down, I look and see a familiar face at the next table from us. It was actor Clive Owen, who I believe is in town shooting the film Anon. I’ve been a big fan of his since he starred in those BMW short films, but having him singing & dancing to the Specials next to me makes him even cooler now. Sadly, didn’t want to bother Clive in the middle of the concert so I didn’t get to meet him.
The first half of the set was a lot of the slower songs like “Friday Night, Saturday Morning,” “Do Nothing,” “Stereotype,” and “Man at C&A.” Terry was particularly funny and on point with some of his comments that night. Dedicated “Blank Expression” to that “cunt” Donald Trump and made some funny comments about Hillary Clinton too. The Donald Trump comments got the biggest cheers. Things picked up and the crowd starting moving when the band played “Rat Race.” After that, they played “Hey Little Rich Girl,” “Why?” and “It Doesn’t Make It Alright.” I’m not sure I’ve heard “Why?” played yet by the Specials but that was a nice surprise nonetheless.
Lynval was having issues I guess with reading since he can’t see out of one eye. At one point, he introduced A Message To You Rudy early and dedicated it to Rudy Giuliani. Horace had to come over and tell him that was later on. When it came time to actually play the song, Lynval wanted to talk before again. Terry wasn’t having any of it and just wanted to play the song. Neville, Roddy and John’s absence was certainly felt but I thought The Specials had a stellar performance! Gary Powell fit right into the band with his strong drumming, and Steve did his stuff. I miss Roddy’s rockabilly guitar style and him bending down to play though. I thought the best songs of the night were “Do The Dog,” “A Message To You Rudy,” “Gangsters,” “Concert Jungle,” and “Little Bitch.” They came back to play “Guns of Navarone,” “Enjoy Yourself” and then finished things up for the night with “You’re Wondering Now.”
The Specials music is still relevant today so it’s important that they continue as a band. Even though it’s the songs were used to hearing, I honestly wouldn’t mind if they came to play the States every 3 years or so. I’m not sure if this is the last tour or not and they were just contractually obligated to do it before John’s passing? Whatever happens, glad I got to see the band play on September 9th at Terminal 5. The Specials always put on a fun show!
Here are some of my favorite photos of the night. The rest will be up at SkaPunkPhotos.com this week!
The Far East