THE SPECIALS TO VISIT HULL’S BONUS ARENA IN 2021

Ska-punk legends The Specials will perform in Hull next year.

The seminal band will take to the Bonus Arena stage on 13 September 2021. Tickets go on sale on Friday at 10am.

Influential, important and exhilarating live, they are a band embedded in this country’s DNA. It is impossible to envisage the musical landscape without them, from the startling, angular Gangsters in 1979 to their swan song, the epoch-making Ghost Town in 1981. They infused ska with punk, homegrown political anxiety with wider issues. 

The Specials’ ascendancy was swift. Two years, seven hit singles including two number ones, two hit albums, sell-out tours – the mass stage-invasions and audience energy only adding to the myth. They were everywhere; on Top of the Pops, Radio One, nightclubs and school discos. At the time, the nation could not have seemed more polarised: far right youth cults, violence on the streets, conservative government. Their demise, however, was rapid.

April 1981. The Specials spend ten days recording Ghost Town in an 8-track home studio in Leamington Spa. The song spends three weeks at number one in July 1981 culminating in a Top of The Pops appearance 9th July 1981. In the dressing room afterwards the band split. In retrospect, maybe a signifier of how weird those times were is the fact that they are introduced on screen by both Jimmy Savile, and a nervy Adam Ant.

In 2009, with Britain in another recession, the Specials reform to play live – without founding member Jerry Dammers who clashes with the others during initial rehearsals. Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, Horace Panter, John Bradbury, Neville Staple and Roddy “Radiation” Byers play a sell-out tour and the offers keep coming.

“There was never a long term plan,” says Horace, the Special’s extremely grounded, polite bassist. “But before we knew it, it was 2012. Then Neville quit, out of ill health, Roddy quit thank goodness, so four of us were left, all facing in the right direction, all in agreement.

“Towards the end of 2015 Lynval, Brad and I got together in a little rehearsal room and we recorded some demos on a handheld mic,” continues Horace. “Then of course Brad dies [in December 2015, of a heart attack]. It took a year or so to pick ourselves back up again.” 

But eventually they do, and they record. Ten songs – originals and some covers. A new album called ‘Encore’. 

The genius of the Specials is their innate understanding. The skill of re-contextualising what has gone before – from Monkey Man to Blam Blam Fever – and writing new songs that fuse this heritage with all that is current. Throughout the decades the Specials’ influence has never gone away. And we need it.

“I’m aware our work has been out there for forty years and I’m so grateful for what we’ve done, I pinch myself sometimes,” says Lynval. “I can pat myself on the back now, and say ‘Well done,’ because that what my father says to me. As a band, making this record, it was the closest we’d ever been.”

“That’s the thing with the Specials,” says Horace. “We are three very different people, but you put us together and we become the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, as far as I’m concerned. Something remarkable happens.”

Tickets for this standing and seated event go on sale on Friday, 11 September at 10am. They will be available online via www.bonusarenahull.com or online at Ticketmaster. Telephone sales are unavailable at present. Accessible tickets can also be purchased online.

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