The Specials at Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Review by Keith Harrison
The boos began even before the band took the stage – as a giant image of Margaret Thatcher spread itself across the backdrop.
But, as other snapshots of the last 30 years were revealed, images of the recent riots drew a muted response, suggesting little empathy with 21st century lowlifes from an audience that largely had lived through the hardships of the early 1980s.
Then jeers turned to cheers, first single Gangsters rang out and we were off on another special night of musical magic and mayhem. This was the first of a third run of reunion shows and lesser bands would be running out of steam by now, particularly with a setlist dominated by vintage material.
Not a bit of it last night though, as the first of two sold-out shows at the Civic lapped up every social comment, kitchen sink drama and great tune. Picking highlights from a perfect two-hour set including Rat Race, Do Nothing and Too Much, Too Young, is hard but Nite Klub and the biting Stereotype somehow managed to stand out.
Neville Staple didn't let a gammy leg slow him down while lugubrious frontman Terry Hall smoked his way through, deadpanning lyrics, putdowns and even his 'thank yous'.
They're on again at the Civic tonight and if you miss it, you'll be missing out.
Especially as they're being backed by three-piece string and horn sections, a keyboardist and, last night, 2,000-plus backing singers who may not be able to hold a tune, but blimey, they know all the words.
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