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Arts and Entertainment

The Specials @ Club Nokia 4/15/10

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It’s a good thing the Specials made it into Los Angeles before the volcanic ash cloud grounded all flights from the UK, or there would be a squadron of California boot boys swimming across the ocean to beat the crap out of Iceland right now. The atmosphere inside an unusually tightly-clamped Club Nokia fifteen minutes before showtime was tense and hot, as hundreds of patrons were ushered up to the balcony due to overcrowding downstairs, only to find that every seat had been filled. Lots of them looked like they might have a go with the security, or each other, as they roamed the aisles, ready to eat someone alive in order to take their spot. But as the band took the stage and hit the opening notes of “Do The Dog”, all the tension diffused as the balcony began to bounce up and down and people partied where they stood.

Though various after-projects have appeared since their split, the Specials haven’t performed in America since 1981. This reunion lineup is missing organist Jerry Dammers, who founded the band as well as the record label 2-Tone, introducing the world to the (English) Beat, the Selecter and Madness and spearheading the British ska scene at the end of the seventies. But all the other key players - vocalists Terry Hall and Neville Staples, guitarists Lynval Golding and Roddy “Radiation” Byers, drummer Horace Panter and bassist John Bradbury - are in place, and sounding as tight and wired as one could hope.