Concert Review: The Specials, Hammersmith Apollo, 24/11/09


A swarm of beer-bellied, balding white men were packed together. Plastic cups filled with overpriced beer were clenched in each hand. There was a notable buzz of excitement in the air.

What could have been a typical scene at a football match was, instead, the setting for The Specials concert at the HMV Apollo Theatre in London.

But the uniform of choice for this nearly-homogenous crowd was a Fred Perry t-shirt and cuffed jeans.

And instead of chanting “You couldn’t score in a brothel!” they were chanting, “Rude boy! Ruuuddeee booyyyyyyy!”

Photo Courtesy of Deepesh Patel


I’ve been to my fair share of concerts, but never before had I been so hyper-aware of being a female in a typically male-dominated scene.

The majority of the concerts that I’ve gone to have been in the United States, and the crowds are usually varied in terms of gender, race, and age. I’ve never gone to a concert and felt like I didn’t fit in.

However, at The Specials concert I was all too aware of being a young, mixed-race female.

San Francisco, where I come from, is an extremely diverse city. And in London, my course consists of students from 26 different countries.

It’s funny how you don’t usually notice your differences until you’re in a situation in which you’re the minority.

Considering The Specials’ music in itself is a mixture of different influences—1960s Jamaican rock steady and 1970s British punk—it was unexpected to not see this diversity reflected in the crowd.

The Specials Bring Rocksteady Beats

That being said, all thoughts of this quickly dissipated as The Specials opened up with a vigorous rendition of “Do The Dog.”

From that point on, the crowd became a dance floor of every type of move imaginable—awkward head bobbing; forceful fist-pumping; and old-school skanking.

It no longer mattered how old you were, what your gender was, or where you came from.

We were all there for a common goal: to catch The Specials on one of their rare reunion performances, and dance and sing along like mad people.

Because, in the end, “It’s Up To You”…to “do the dog (not the monkey).” And have a cracking good time in the process!

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