The Specials embark upon their first UK tour since the passing of drummer John Bradbury late last year.

A sold out audience in attendance tonight to witness the return of The Specials to the North East of England. Libertines drummer Gary Powell assumes the position behind the drum stool left by Bradbury and joins the trio of original members Terry Hall, Lynval Gooding, and Horace Panter still remaining in the band.

As the lights dim, chants of “Rude Boy” reverberate around from the room from the eager fans at the O2 Academy Newcastle tonight. The Specials take to the stage and waste no time in digging deep into their back catalog with the classic, “Ghost Town”. The song was, of course, commended for its social commentary highlighting issues of unemployment, urban decay, and inner city violence in the 80s, now seems more relevant than ever in a Brexit Britain.

The Specials come out with all guns blazing and their career-spanning set gets the audience dancing from the off, they leave no stone unturned. As the band breaks into “Blank Expression” and “Rat Race”, the audience are so loud they almost take the roof off the O2 Academy Newcastle, they start to sound a lot more like the Saturday afternoon football crowd at the nearby St James Park football ground.

The Specials slows down the proceedings with “Redemption Song” whereby Lynval Golding takes to lead vocals alongside Steve Craddock on acoustic guitar, and a beautiful cello and violin accompaniment. However, this mid-set lull doesn’t last for long as the band continues with their no messing attitude to break out the big numbers, for which they are many. These include the likes of “Nite Klub”, “Do The Dog”, and “Monkey Man” to name but a few.

The Specials incredibly infectious brand of Ska with a rocksteady beat even manages to take a hold of the venue’s security staff who were noticeably dancing at the back of the room. The band brings their main set to a close with their No. 1 hit, “Too Much Too Young” and their take on Prince Buster’s “Enjoy Yourself”, which leaves the audience wanting more.

Tonight was everything you would ever want from The Specials. The band delivers a set full of generation-defining anthems, which sound as fresh as they did back in the late 70s and early 80s. Long may they continue.

The Specials
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Event Date: 28-Oct-2016

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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