After hearing about The Specials doing a 2nd reunion tour (after their first in 2009) I wrote out my Christmas list and Father Christmas delivered 4 tickets to me for the Ally Pally gig. And, lo and behold, 11 months later the time came round to get on our dancing shoes and head to the cavernous Alexandra Palace to see this legendary band for the 2nd time for me and Jono, 3rd for Jon (the bastard) and 1st time for Jason, losing his Specials virginity.
We arrived as the support band were onstage. I don't know who they were, but it doesn't matter because they weren't very good. We lurked at the back near the bar, marvelling at the sheer number of harrington jackets about. I actually felt a bit left out as I've never owned a harrington, but anyway, I digress, this isn't a fucking fashion blog is it?
After the support act had left the stage and we deemed it safe to move closer, we weren't waiting too long till the lights went down and a montage of footage from the 80s was played, showing images of riots and strikes, war, Thatcher, racism, unemployment, a royal wedding...then it cut to the present day with the 'war on terror', London riots, the BNP and EDL, Cameron and Osborne, and another royal wedding. It was a good way of showing that since the Specials first started playing places infinitely smaller and sweatier than the place they were gracing with their presence this evening, very little has changed in Britain. However despite all the 80s-esq shit that's going down, if it means I get to see The Specials again then it's certainly the silver lining on an increasingly all-encompassing dark cloud.
Opening with Gangsters (one of my personal favourite tracks anyway) the whole place just turned into a jumping, skanking mass of people. They played everything from their self-titled LP, including Stupid Marriage which was an unexpected treat. They played everything in a perfect order, after dancing around like a mentalist for 3 or 4 tracks you needed a little rest so would play something slightly slower, then launch into more ska joy. It's hard to pick highlights because it was all so fucking good, but for me Do the Dog, Nite Klub (complete with glitter balls), Monkey Man, Too Much Too Young and Little Bitch were the best for me. Hearing so many people singing along to A Message To You Rudy was also brilliant.
This was as close to a perfect gig that I could have asked for, I never wanted it to end and the sad thing is I might never see them again (unless the call of money is too great to resist). I'm not complaining, it was a sweet gig with awesome people, I felt young compared to the rest of the crowd, I danced and sang more than normal at a gig, it was everything I wanted it to be! We all left with massive grins on our faces, my legs were weary but I didn't care.
Gig of the year? Certainly a top contender for me. 5/5 no frontin!