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The Specials 30th Anniversary Tour

November 30, 2009

I was at the Hammersmith Apollo on Friday for The Specials 30th anniversary Tour. The gigs had sold out months ago, but thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend, let’s call her blow out Tracy due to her uncannily regular ability to drop out at the last minute, I got the golden ticket. Her loss was definitely my gain.

Every musical artist or group has a tribal audience and this was no different. The make up of the audience was largely male, white and over 40 wearing either two-tone or skinhead gear, which may sound like a recipe for trouble, but everyone was very friendly and on good form. As we entered the stalls, I noticed two women dressed like they were going to a hen night. I wondered if they knew what they were letting themselves in for.

We waited an hour before The Specials arrived on stage. The atmosphere was building and you could feel the Testosterone. This was not going to be a James Blunt Soiree. As the lights went down and the cheer went up, the first of many plastic pint glasses with beer was thrown into the audience. When (Dawning of a) New Era started, everyone went nuts and we found ourselves flung around from left to right in a sea of big men. Hit after wonderful hit was played with the economy Prog rockers could only dream of. Do The Dog, Rat Race, Man At C&A, Do Nothing, Blank Expression, Nite Klub, Stereotype and so many more were lapped up by a frenzied audience. Between each song you’d hear the chanting of Rude Boy, Rude Boy, Rude Boy. I’d try and catch bits of video with my crappy camera phone in the quieter moments before the nutty crowd started slamming into each other again. It was over way too soon. They returned for two encores, Ghost Town and You’re Wondering now.

We left the venue sweating like pigs in blankets but were elated because the gig was so good. We went our separate ways and it was only when I made the final leg of my journey home on the DLR that I noticed the stink from the beer shower. The other passengers noticed too as they cleared space for me… in a crowded train!

Beer showers? Being slammed by sweaty blokes? Dancing to great music? Top night.

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