The last few nights have seen Ska pioneers The Specials show their faces for the first time (despite filming the video for ‘Message For You Rudy’ there) at Camden’s esteemed venue The Roundhouse. HTF went along to catch them for the third date of their residency on Saturday night.
With Neville Staple currently unable to tour due to health issues, fans may have wondered whether anything but the full package would be worth the trip. And whilst the singer’s absence was noticeable, there certainly wasn’t any question on whether we were getting the vintage Specials experience.
Hundreds of skinheads, be it by choice or nature, had booked the babysitter, dusted off the DM’s, trilbies and braces, and made their way to the iconic venue for a trip down memory lane. And by the time Ghost Town‘s memorable first chord had rung out, madness had already erupted in the crowd with skanking skins left right and center. The guest appearance of Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock on guitar added an extra bit of spice as the band cruised through a set full of the hits we all know and love – the backing of their regular horns section and a trio of female strings players making the sound and atmosphere even fuller.
The night was a proper knees-up occasion throughout, with tracks like ‘Rat Race To Why?’, ‘Too Much Too Young,’ ‘Gangsters’ and a cover of Toots And The Maytals’ ‘Monkey Man’ upping the pace before the classic ‘Too Much Too Young’ really got the crowd going; the two-tone rudeboys offering the exact kind of excitement and mayhem you’d hope for in a Specials gig.