The Specials Gunnersville Highlights
In our Gunnersville highlights we celebrate 40 years of two tone with The Specials.
And, round-up fantastic live performances by Ocean Colour Scene, General Roots and Wild Flowers.
On day two of Gunnersville we basked in the sunshine and another day of formidable performances.
The Specials headlined the day with a set that took in all of the hits from their 40 year career. Britpop legends Ocean Colour Scene had us singing along to songs from their classic album, ‘Moseley Shoals’.
Whilst, London collective General Roots brought their reggae dub to the Big Top. And, garage punks The Blinders got the day off to a raucous start.
South Yorkshire garage punks The Blinders, get the day off to a fierce start. The trio dressed in Johnny Cash head-to-toe black announce their arrival with the rabid howl of, ‘Gotta Get Through’, from their debut album ‘Columbia’.
The band vibrate with the same youthful urgency of The Clash, Libertines and Sex Pistols before them. Singer Harry spits out the words to the stomped rock of ‘A Brave New World’ as a single black tear rolls down his cheek. Whilst, bassist Charlie jerks violently to the tense doomed infused rhythms on royal takedown, ‘L’etat C’est Moi’.
They only draw breath, albeit for a few minutes, for the drawled Nick Cave blues of ‘Ramona Flowers’. Before leaving us in the unruly wake of ‘Brutas’ – a epic ode to Shakespeare’s play Julia Caesar – that snarls with the same savagery as The Horrors’ ‘Strange House’.
With tracks like this we can’t wait to see what the The Blinders draw up next.
As the sunshine kisses the ground outside the Big Tent, General Roots make sure we feel the warmth inside with some super hot reggae.
‘Walk Tall’, the title track from their debut album, opens the set. The glossy melodies and smooth beats radiate with the last carefree vibes of summer. Whilst new song, ‘Virgo Moon’, makes everyone get their skank on to the track’s laid-back beat and rich organ.
Singer Field Marshal Fred puts us all at ease with his onstage banter and vocals as soft as fur. He instantly gets us all on side after previewing a new track by asking, ‘who’s from London town? Oi! Oi!’.
The meditative tones of ‘Stroke Of Dub’ draw the set to a close. Fred leaves the stage saying ‘more love, more love’ and that’s definitely what General Roots have given us today.
Ocean Colour Scene
Ocean Colour Scene arrive on stage to take us back to those glorious halcyon days of Britpop with their genre defining album, ‘Moseley Shoals’, released back in 1996 dominating this hit packed set.
‘You Got It Bad’ gets everyone moving to its bustling blues grooves. ‘The Circle’ is enwraps us in its mod perfection, whilst the 60s soul of ‘Travellers Tune’ carries all the way back to the heady days of drinking in The Good Mixer.
Front man Simon Fowler can see he’s amongst friends as he says, ‘I can see a lot of dark glasses in Harringtons’. His voice still has that rich rasp that ripples with emotion on the rallying call of ‘Profit In Peace’ from their fourth album, ‘One For The Modern’.
Guitarist Steve Craddock, who’ll later be playing with The Specials, reminds us why he’s such a formidable player. ‘Get Blown Away’ from their third album, ‘Marchin’ Already’, is underpinned by his intricate hooks. And, ‘Better Day’ has him dishing out solos worthy of Clapton.
If there was a rulebook on how to end a show, Ocean Colour Scene are one of the writers as the last three songs leave everyone on an unbelievable high. They start with those iconic notes of ‘The Riverboat Song’ for the biggest singalong of the day and follow it up with hedonistic charge of ‘Hundred Mile City’.
Finally, ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ has the whole tent shouting out the loudest ‘oh la, la, las’ with every fibre of our being. It’s the ultimate end to a vintage set.
What better way to celebrate the recent 40th anniversary of Two Tone than with a headline show from its’ founders, The Specials.
Political placards fill the stage emblazoned with slogans, like: ‘Resist!’, ‘Right Wrong’ and ‘We Sell Hope’. And, as the urgent call of ‘this is a nuclear attack! from ‘Man At C&A’ rings out across the tent, it’s clear this is going to be more than a just show – this is going to be an awakening.
The Caribbean lilt of ‘Rat Race’ follows and is transformed into a full-blown anthem as everyone chants out the chorus. Whilst, ‘Vote For Me’, from their recent acclaimed album ‘Encore, follows with a pertinent potency.
Front man Terry Hall’s signature deadpan delivery is still razor sharp. On the waltzed muzak of ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’ he takes us right back to the monotony of the Locarno nightclub in Coventry. Whilst, his banter between songs is as delectably dry as he introduces the band like a teacher doing a headcount.
As always guitarist Lynval Golding is the light to Hall’s shade. He exudes so much energy that he looks like he’s about to bound off the stage at any given moment. Whilst, bass player Horace Panter is the steady influence to ensure that this ship stays firmly on course.
The show hurtles along at an unstoppable pace as all of the songs are charged with an infectious vitality. The iconic ‘A Message To You Rudy’ gets one of the biggest singalongs of the night. Whilst, ‘Stereotype’ climaxes with us singing the huge stomped chant of “all I want is my stereo!’.
One of the many standout moments tonight has to be when activist Saffiyah Khan, joins The Specials to deliver, ’10 Commandments’. She holds our unwavering attention as leaves the stage to go deep into the crowd to give the song’s manifesto. This song and tonight are reminders that The Specials, four decades on, still have their finger firmly on the zeitgeist.
Terry asks “do you like disco?”. Without waiting for answer the pace is whipped up again as the band drop the after hours hedonism of ‘Night Klub’. They roll straight into the riotous bounce of ‘Do The Dog’, the bawdy football chant of ‘Concrete Jungle’ and get the whole tent skanking to the “ay-ay-ay, ay-ay-ay” of ‘Monkey Man’.
Terry proclaims “Gunnersville, you’ve been absolutely delicious”. The band make everyone’s night and drop, what is still the most devastating takedown in pop history, ‘Too Much Too Young’. And, with that they’re gone.
But, of course this is thankfully far from the end as the band return for not one but two encores. ‘Ghost Town’ cruises in with an extended trombone intro and its delectable dystopian dub never sounded so good.
‘You’re Wondering Now’ aptly brings the show to a end with one last soaring ska singalong.