Tonight is an exciting night for me. First of all, I’m seeing a band that has been part of my musical upbringing for as long as I can remember.

…and secondly, it’s in a city that I never thought I would visit, Las Vegas.

Oh and it’s the last night of what has been a hugely successful U.S. tour. There was a time I never thought I’d see the specials play live again. What with various key members leaving and the passing of drummer John Bradbury, you would be forgiven in thinking that the end was near. However the guys are made of stronger stuff than that, and have recruited ace guitarist Steve Cradock and Libertines drummer Gary Powell to complete that musical backbone that is The Specials.

It’s a strange crowd mix tonight. To be honest if this was in the UK I could expect to see Fred Perry, Doc Martens and Harrington jackets, but here it’s a different ball game. Las Vegas’ finest are out in force. There are punks, psychobilly’s, classic mods and even a few greasers. Oh and a guy in what looks to be a suit straight out of Beetlejuice.

As I eventually make my way in, I’m quite surprised by the space inside. There are a couple of bars that are busy, and the mainstage floor area is already packed with eager fans dancing to the dub sounds being played by the warm up D.J.

I just have to add that whilst waiting for the “three songs no flash” moment I started talking to a couple at the bar about how they got into The Specials. Turns out his dad used to play them a lot at home. But I’m also amazed to find out He’s from Mexico….and he’s a wrestler. I’ll save that story for another day.

As the lights dim the band walk on stage to a rapturous applause the opening notes of the eerie “Ghost Town” fill the room. It’s a brave entrance as it’s usually an encore tune, however as we will see, it doesn’t matter. I’d just like to point out at this point that the sound is amazing. Horace’s bass is just loud enough to give you that underlining rhythm that is perfectly in sync with the haunting drum beats and horns. It’s a storming opener that reminds me how good they are.. The moody “Do Nothing “follows. I remember seeing this on T.O.T.P. back in the day. Pretty sure it was a Christmas edition as they all had Xmas jumpers on! Anyway, still sounds awesome. “Friday Night , Saturday Morning” is up next. Behind me the crowd are loving every moment. It’s a surreal moment for me actually. One of my favourite bands in a venue I never thought I’d set foot it.

Terry is definitely in a playful mood tonight. His understanding of “plus tax” laws when buying a bottle of milk is hilarious. Probably went over the U.S. audiences heads, but I understand his frustration.

That’s my three songs done. As I go back to my spot at the bar my new Mexican friend is in full skanking mode as “Stereotype” blasts out of the P.A.
From here on in it’s a night of blistering tunes that bring back so many memories from the early 80’s.

From here on in it’s a night of blistering tunes that bring back so many memories from the early 80’s.
We get “Blank Expression”,” Rat Race”, “Hey Little Rich Girl”, and “Doesn’t Make It Alright”. However it’s “Nite Club” that rips the roof off.

We get “Blank Expression”,” Rat Race”, “Hey Little Rich Girl”, and “Doesn’t Make It Alright”. However it’s “Nite Club” that rips the roof off.
As the intro is played, Terry halts the proceedings and voices his opinions on the up and coming Presidential race. Trump is definitely NOT on his Xmas card list. Then it’s on to the best version of this song I’ve heard in a long time.

As the intro is played, Terry halts the proceedings and voices his opinions on the up and coming Presidential race. Trump is definitely NOT on his Xmas card list. Then it’s on to the best version of this song I’ve heard in a long time.

From here on in, its oldies galore. “Gangsters” sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it all those years ago. That horn section sounds amazing. “Concrete Jungle”, “A Message to You, Rudy” and “Monkey Man” seals the deal with the crowd. There’s even a mosh pit!!

From here on in, its oldies galore. “Gangsters” sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it all those years ago. That horn section sounds amazing. “Concrete Jungle”, “A Message to You, Rudy” and “Monkey Man” seals the deal with the crowd. There’s even a mosh pit!!

“I got married in Vegas some years ago, a little chapel down the road”, announces Terry. “Worse fucking thing I ever did” Then it’s on to a riotous version of “Too Much Too Young”. Brilliant stuff.

Tonight we are treated to three encores, “Guns of Navarone”, “Enjoy Yourself”, and the perfect final song “You’re Wondering Now”.

I must say it was the gig of the year for me. Tremendous stuff. There has been talk it may be the last time they tour. I hope this isn’t the case. There are many years left in this class act. Catch them in the UK later this month

Details at www.thespecials.com

Also you might want to check out Horace Panter’s exclusive exhibition in L.A.

Details at www.horacepanterart.com

Out Of Ten 10/10