The Specials played Brooklyn Steel (pics, setlist, video)
"Sorry for ruining your weekend," Terry Hall said near the end of The Specials' set at Brooklyn Steel on Friday night. Known for a very dark, very dry wit, Terry Hall is also a bit a curmudgeon and watching the The Specials you might wonder if he's having any fun at all; never cracking a smile, never leaving the safety of his stage right mic stand, except to take a pull from his vape pen. Luckily, guitarist and the group's other singer, Lynval Golding, makes up for it, running around and constantly pumping up the crowd, as did bassist Horace Panter (the only other original member in the current lineup).
The Specials aren't exactly playing fan service on this tour either. With Encore, their first new album with Hall in nearly 30 years -- which is very good and very politically charged -- out this year, we got a lot of that album in the set. The new album's themes seemed to shape the night, which they played against a backdrop of protest signs, and what banter there was, was for a cause. "We're going to go to Alabama," joked Terry at one point, "and I'm going to marry Lynval, impregnate him and then we're gonna get the sweetest abortion you’ve ever seen." Meanwhile the most electric moment of the night was Encore's dubby "10 Commandments," which featured vocalist Saffiyah Khan (who was also the night's DJ) and is a rewrite of ska legend Prince Buster's misogynistic original. Saffiyah stalked the stage and went into the crowd, and seemed to be updating her lyrics here, possibly on the fly.
The night opened with More Specials' "Man at C&A,' and they didn't get around to playing a song from their iconic debut album till seven songs deep in the set ("Blank Expression"), giving us non-LP single "Rat Race," another More Specials song ("Do Nothing"), and two from the new album ("Vote for Me" and "Embarrassed by You") first. They also played their version of "The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum," by Hall's post-Specials band Fun Boy Three (which is also on Encore) before settling into the hits which then came fast and furious and had the crowd pogoing throughout: "A Message to You Rudy," "Nite Klub," a very spirited "Concrete Jungle," "Gangsters," and "Too Much, Too Young." Though Hall proved impervious, for everyone else it was hard not to dance. The encore led with Encore's "Breaking Point," followed by the classic "Ghost Town" and "You're Wondering Now" which closes their debut album (and has closed most of their sets since).
UK singer songwriter L.A Salami opened the night with a nice acoustic set. No pictures of his set, unfortunately, but pics of The Specials are in the gallery above and the Brooklyn Steel setlist and a couple videos are below.
SETLIST: The Specials @ Brooklyn Steel 6/14/2019
Man at C&A
Vote for Me
Friday Night, Saturday Morning
Embarrassed by You
Doesn't Make It Alright
The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum
Blam Blam Fever
A Message to You, Rudy
Do the Dog
Too Much Too Young
You're Wondering Now
photos by P Squared