Music review: The Specials, Barrowland, Glasgow

ON A PREVIOUS visit to Barrowland, Specials guitarist Lynval Golding railed against the opportunistic and materialistic nature of the 2011 London riots. One suspects eight years on, against a political backdrop of climate change protests and their own striking concert backdrop of political placards – including the rather plaintive slogan Help Someone and the sound advice Listen to Sly and the Family Stone – that he might find more to commend in the man on the street.

Two Tone veterans the Specials provided the perfectly pitched soundtrack to our times

The Specials, Barrowland, Glasgow ****

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And once again, these Two Tone veterans were on hand to provide the perfectly pitched soundtrack to our times, be it the perennial relevance of their original catalogue from the late 70s, from which they cherrypicked ska-infused portraits of social alienation such as Man at C&A, Rat Race and Do Nothing, or equally perceptive new songs such as the low-slung skank of Vote for Me.

Their rebooted version of the Fun Boy Three hit The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum spoke for itself. Sadly, there was to be no reunion with Bananarama, performing their own gig mere paces away, but activist Saffiyah Khan was on hand to deliver her alternative feminist take on Prince Buster’s Ten Commandments over a trippy dub backing. Ska party stompers Night Klub, Concrete Jungle and Monkey Man ramped up the energy and paved the way for their two inspired repurposed ska standards Gangsters and Too Much Too Young and an encore of their urban requiem Ghost Town, inspired at least in part by the social deprivation they encountered during a tour stop in Glasgow at the turn of the 80s.

FIONA SHEPHERD