Review: The Specials, O2 Academy, Birmingham

While today’s politicians are squabbling amongst themselves about welfare reforms, what to do with our disaffected youth and the double dip recession they could do a lot worse than listen to Terry Hall’s words of wisdom.

He’s never stood for election but The Specials frontman still speaks for a generation – every bit as much today as back in his 80s heyday.

The anthems of yesteryear; Too Much Too Young, Stereotypes and Ghost Town, are just as relevant now as then.

And his passion, while always knowingly understated, has clearly not diminished.

Last night’s O2 Academy was barely standing room only as the crowd crammed into the venue desperate to drink in the 2 Tone classics. And The Specials didn’t disappoint.

Starting with Concrete Jungle and working their way through Man at C&A, Rat Race and Do Nothing the performance was spot on.

The original Rude Boys and Rude Girls, who made up the majority of the crowd, lapped it up, while those too young to remember them first time round wished they’d have been there back in the day.

Terry Hall’s po-faced pronouncements still command our attention and while there may be fewer Specials actually on stage now that Neville Staples has had to step aside because of ill health the sound is none the poorer for it. And there are even some signs that Terry may be mellowing.

“It cracked me up, someone from Birmingham asking why do I look so miserable,” he deadpanned.

He even allowed one fan to propose to his beloved on stage during the show last night.

“Will you be my wife as well?” he asked.

It was an unforgettable night for that couple but it was also one that the rest of the crowd didn’t want to end either.

Gangsters, Doesn’t Make It Alright and Nite Klub were belted out by the fans who were guaranteed their favourite Specials song would be given another airing as their back catalogue of classics has something for everyone – and means something to everyone.

They may be older, we may be wiser but we know a class act when we see it.

And that’s our message to you, Terry.

Maria Cusine

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Comments for: "Review: The Specials, O2 Academy, Birmingham"


It's a shame there was no support act, the two hour wait took the edge off the atmosphere. Other than this the Specials were on top form

Hartlebury Torch Man

Was at the O2 last night as well. As you say, a truly class act that had the audience in a frenzy. Absolutely brilliant!


Great gig, rammed, hot, sweaty and frantic, all the ingredients for a near perfect night. Long may they continue.


Absolutely superb night. The atmosphere was as good as when they last played in Birmingham, in 2009, at the old Carling Academy. Spent the whole night at the front of the crowd; like dancing in a sauna.