The Specials performing their Protest Songs 1924–2012 Tour at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Friday 17th September 2021

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The last time live music was played at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham was when The Script graced the stage on March 9th 2020, so it was with a great deal of anticipation that 5,000 people were there last night to see the legendary 2-Tone band, The Specials, who skanked into town.

Delivering a set list that contained songs from their 2019 album, Encore, the first new music that Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter have recorded since 1981’s Ghost Town as well as songs from their forthcoming album; Protest Songs 1924-2012, which were all mixed up with some of The Specials’ classics.

Starting off with new song Freedom Highway, a cover song originally by The Staple Singers, it wasn’t long before they ploughed into the set full steam. There was a superb Do Nothing and Friday Night Saturday Morning which were followed by the likes of Man At C&A and Breaking Point before the ever capable Steve Cradock of OCS fame accompanied Golding with a fabulous stripped down version of Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up, one of the protest songs from the new album.

With Panter’s excellent bass playing driving the songs on, Gouldings cheerful rabble rousing and the dead pan Terry Hall performing his songs effortlessly, it wasn’t long before the crowd were singing along. A Message To You Rudy had them bouncing which was quickly followed by Nite Klub, Do The Dog, Too Much Too Young, Gangsters and main set closer, Monkey Man which made for a frantic twenty minute period where much of the crowd couldn’t keep still.

Back on for an encore with Listening Wind but there was no way the band could get away without playing Ghost Town and they duly delivered with an atmospheric version of the hit which dissolved into an echoing dub reggae finish. Ending the evening with their usual You’re Wondering Now, the unsmiling Hall thanked the audience, and unassumingly left the stage.