Monday, 7 November 2016

The Specials at York Barbican

The Specials
York Barbican
The Specials brought a full house to York's Barbican centre as they hurtled through their impressive back catalogue at top speed. This continued the coincidental 1980s theme of my last few gigs.

I was surprised they started with Ghost Town, undoubtedly their strongest song, rather than hold it back for the finale, but there's no doubt it proved a very effective opener.
Terry Hall's battles with his personal demons have well-documented. He doesn't look happy on the stage (don't expect anything in the way of small talk) and he exudes a curious form of anti-charisma. It produces an odd effect; when he is off the stage his lack of presence is really felt. When he took a break to temporarily hand over vocal duties to Lynval Golding it acted as a cue for a significant part of the audience to head for the bar.
A lack of new material is another potential stumbling block if The Specials are to remain a growing concern. Yes, their back catalogue is very strong but it would be good to hear something new. Nevertheless, as the old tunes were spat out as if fired from a machine gun, it was clear to see they are still a class act.

There is criticism in some quarters for The Specials being only three sevenths of their former selves (Hall, Golding and Horace Panter), but this numerical observation should not be allowed to act as a deterrent. They still offer a ska experience few can hope to match.

Yes, a gig by The Specials is certainly a lively experience. We conclude with a few more photos from the frantic night.

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