Terry Hall and Friends
About the gig
It would be easy to mistake the evening for just another successful Subculture gig, but the uniqueness of the event was palpable, given the rarity of Hall's performances over the years. Even rarer, for Hall to perform songs from his career with The Specials, Fun Boy Three and The Colourfield. Rarer still for him to approach the performance as a solo artist. All this represented an enticing treat for long time Hall and Specials fans, along with a new generation of music fans.
Bryn Christopher and Le Volume Courbe had set the scene for the evening’s main event. Terry Hall took to the 100 Club’s stage for the first time, joined by Charlotte Marionneau and Theo Hall, to perform a selection of Terry’s favourite songs including an acoustic version of the Lightening Seeds’ “Sense” (written by Hall), and less predictably, championing the work of David Cassidy.
This led neatly to the much anticipated, performance of songs from Hall’s past career. Hall was joined by Lynval Golding (The Specials, Fun Boy Three), and Ben Gordon, Charlie Turner and Bryan Johnson (formerly of The Dead 60s).
Hall and Golding's on stage partnership engaged immediately, quipping about growing up in Coventry, then performing Fun Boy Three's "Tunnel Of Love" and "Our Lips Are Sealed", and The Specials' "Gangsters", "A Message To You Rudy" and "Friday Night, Saturday Morning", amongst other gems from their years working together. Golding's energy was unmistakable, bringing the Stepper beat to the stage.
After Lynval had left the stage, Hall brought his set to a close with a heartfelt cover of "Moon River", dedicating it to his wife, putting his own stamp on it whilst keeping the Mancini spirit intact.
The audience were clearly left wanting more, with Hall leaving crowd pleasers such as "Ghost Town" out of a set which was, already, brimming with once in a lifetime opportunities.
Coventry's favourite son and pivotal figure of new wave, ska, and two tone - Terry Hall's discography speaks for itself. Although undoubtedly best known for his seminal work with "The Specials", "Fun Boy Three", and "The Colourfield", Hall's list of projects and collaborations read like a who's who of the last 30 years of popular music. Collaborators have included: Dave Stewart, Bananarama, Sinead O'Connor, Ian Broudie, Tricky, Gorillaz, Dub Pistols and Lily Allen, to name just a few.
Hall's reluctance to rest on his laurels has led to a diverse career. Speaking in a recent interview about The Specials 1980 number one single "Ghost Town" and his departure from the band, Hall stated, "With every record, it's a little agenda. If I feel like I've achieved it then I stop it."
Earlier this year, Hall announced that The Specials would mark the 30th anniversary of the bands formation, by getting together for festival dates over the Summer.
Lots of U.K. punkers were fans of Jamaican music in the Seventies, so it made sense that reggae's faster (but previously unpopular) progenitor, ska, would eventually be combined with punk rock. More surprising was that a band would merge them as skillfully as the Specials did. Hailing from Coventry, an industrial city in England's West Midlands, this seven-piece band with multiple vocalists and songwriters spearheaded a revived interest in ska that continues to this day, largely because its debut album (released in England in late 1979 and in America in early 1980) is extraordinarily fine and fully formed. Between leader Jerry Dammers' keyboards, frontman Terry Hall's sneering vocals, the soulful singing of Neville Staples, and the braying horns of sidemen Rico Rodriguez and Dick Cuthell, the Specials embraced so much so well that their debut became an instant U.K. hit and an enduring classic worldwide.
Embodying the name of its self-created U.K. record label 2-Tone, the black-and-white band specialized in contrast, flaunting sharp vintage suits and sharper contemporary commentary, party sounds and rueful sentiments, kinetic remakes of previously obscure ska and reggae oldies (including Dandy Livingstone's "A Message to You Rudy," Prince Buster's "Too Hot" and the Maytals' "Monkey Man"), as well as songwriting that equaled or bettered its inspirations. Produced with straightforward intensity by Elvis Costello, The Specials' fourteen tracks veered between racism ("Doesn't Make It Alright"), urban anxiety ("Concrete Jungle"), babies making babies (the BBC-banned but chart-topping "Too Much Too Young"), trendies ("Nite Klub"), free will ("It's Up to You") and more. Although Hall, Staples and guitarist-singer Lynval Golding would soon split to form Fun Boy Three and the others would regroup as the Special A.K.A., this early achievement remains one of New Wave's greatest and most diverse debuts.