by Andrew Frisicano
back in the day...
The Specials have not been on American soil since a grueling 6-week, coast-to-coast tour launched in January 1980 (one of the colder winter's in U.S. history) all but broke the band up. Many U.K. bands have been unprepared for the distance between U.S. cities and the amount of travel time that is required to go from the east coast of the U.S. to the west coast and everywhere in between.In 2009, the reunited Specials played a full UK tour with 6/7ths of their original lineup, notably missing songwriter and keyboardist Jerry Dammers. This year, they'll bring the show stateside, with a Friday, April 16th set at Coachella (where they are not the only reuniting band).
While The Specials may have been ready to kill each other off stage, on stage they channeled their anger at one another into stellar live shows. They opened a number of shows for The Police during the tour, whipping crowds up into such a frenzy that they often stole the show from the headliners. Adding to the band's fervor had to be Jerry Dammers edict that the band not travel in a 'rock and roll' style, banning limos or stays in expensive hotels while in the U.S. Horace Panter documented this in great detail in his memoir 'Ska'd For Life' noting that the band's tour manager was sent ahead on some occasions to ensure the band's accommodation were not too luxurious. In fact, Jerry Dammers hated touring the U.S. so much that not even finding out that their EP "Too Much Too Young" had gone #1 in the U.K. could raise his spirits. [Marco on the bass]
They'll also be playing the next week, at NYC's Terminal 5 on Wednesday, April 21st. Tickets go on sale Friday, January 29th at noon.
Unless the band makes it known otherwise, it's assumed that Jerry Dammers still isn't part of the reformed band. Dammers and his bandmates were both vocally acrimonious about his absence last year, but didn't totally rule out the possibility of him joining up. The shows last year were organized to celebrate the band's 30th anniversary, and a DVD of the tour is on the way later this month. Videos from those shows and footage from their last US tour, in 1980, are posted below...
The Specials - Guns of Navarone - Liverpool Olympia 29/10/2009
The Specials - Nite Klub - Summer Sonic Tokyo 2009 - 08/08/2009
The Specials - Message To You Rudy - VFest - 23/08/2009
The Specials Live in USA 1980 @ Hurrahs New York
The Specials Live in USA 1980 part2 @ Hurrahs New York