The Specials closed Melbourne Zoo Twilights in style
The last of the Zoo Twilight concerts was appropriately concluded by The Specials. An effervescent timeless group with an abundance of fun-time tunes delivered with a lyrical conscience.
They bounded onstage, replete with both old school and new school rude boy wear and the sold out audience was set for a riveting finale.
Aided by minimalist strings, the band was suitably revved up from opener Ghost Town. The malicious intent of this song was something of a demure beginning. Do Nothing and Friday Night, Saturday Morning followed and suggested a search for enlightenment and clarity was afoot. The Nite Klub, Concrete Jungle and Little Bitch blew the cobwebs away with tales of grand and wonderful excess littered with seedy and deep human misery.
Nevertheless it was clearly time for some vigorous skanking and pork pie hats were struggling to stay in place. All the while, the band exhibited precisely why they were the architects of a generation as the social commentary remained equally relevant in the current climate as it was the first time around in 1979.
The sprightly guitar and organ underpinned by pounding drums and fluid bass and brass made for many outstanding vignettes. Doesn't Make It Alright, Too Much Too Young, Blank Expression and Rat Race were unwavering reflective sounds propelled by a clear hindsight and informed foresight.
The generous selection of original songs from their first two era-defining releases was intertwined with respectful blasts of songs that form The Specials heritage.
Cover versions of Do The Dog, Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think), Guns Of Navarone and A Message To You Rudy were at times mournful but nevertheless defiant and victorious. When the audience joined in to lend a united voice to You're Wondering Now, a triumphant performance was closed out.
If The Specials never manage to perform in Melbourne again, then the legacy of excellence will at least remain intact in the memories of all present.
Words by Bronius Zumeris
Image by Ian Laidlaw
Highlight: The sterling set of one of the most irresistible bands ever.
Lowlight: None. Terry Hall put it succinctly "Love, love, love". Pause. Repeat.
Crowd Favourite: Message To You Rudy.