Review: The Specials at Portsmouth Guildhall

Terry Hall of The Specials on stage at Portsmouth Guildhall - PICTURE BY PAUL WINDSOR
Terry Hall of The Specials on stage at Portsmouth Guildhall - PICTURE BY PAUL WINDSOR
Zara Larsson.

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How odd, that in 2013 the voice of disaffected youth is a bunch of 50-somethings who started out more than 30 years ago...

The Specials, fronted by the enigmatic Terry Hall, have lost none of their intensity or agitprop angst, with a blistering 90-minute set that had the Guildhall throbbing and ardent fans in ecstasy.

As the X Factor generation stumbles around in a random-play haze of off-the-peg hit choons, The Specials continue to plough their own furrow of life-affirming feelgood music with a message that has never been more relevant.

Doesn’t Make it Alright, an anthem for racial harmony, could have been written as a response to the Woolwich atrocity, yet it first appeared in 1979, and gave Hall a chance also to angrily condemn this weekend’s protest at Southsea’s Jami Mosque.

The audience was touched by the prescience. Rat Race seems less relevant today, but Nite Klub hits the zeitgeist on the head with: “I don’t have to work/There’s no work to do.”

The set was perfectly paced, with a lower-key start, then stepping through the gears to an epic climax, with Ghost Town, A Message For You Rudy, and Too Much Too Young, which, as a wise man once said, should be the theme tune for Jeremy Kyle.

This was no night of Rude Boy nostalgia. It may be ska, but it’s rock ‘n’ roll, and I loved it.

ALAN COOPER