The Specials @ Jaguar Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena 15th May 2009

When The Specials announced a homecoming gig at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena I snapped up two tickets for this sold out event. Well the gig taking place in the Jaguar Exhibition Hall which held 8000 people. This was The Specials first time in Coventry for 28 years and it was billed as the last gig. Originally there was talk of doing something in Coventry but no date nor venue was confirmed. So I arrived outside the gate entrance to the Jaguar Exhibition Hall and there were already two people already starting the queue. I did go with my dad as he is The Specials fan and he was a bit reluctant to wait for just over two hours. Well there were a few touts trying to buy spare tickets and there was even someone who had travelled from Edinburgh and he hadn’t even got a ticket. So after I spotted him I went up to him and said I knew someone who had a spare. So this guy got a ticket from this guy who had travelled from Holland for face value which is nice as you don’t want to pay extortionate fees just for one ticket. So he then joined the queue with the person he purchased the ticket from. Around 17.40pm the heavens started to open and all of us were huddled under the shelter that we had. Luckily the wind was blowing the rain away from us. So 18.00pm came the doors opened and everyone started to make their way in. We presented our tickets, the stub got ripped off then we had to be scanned with a metal detector. When we had got passed checks I ran towards the front dead centre to where the drum kit was. The Jaguar Exhibition Hall was massive and when I was by the barrier I could not stand there as it was carpeted up they had to wait for someone to tape it up. Now that was frustrating why didn’t they just tape it up when the doors hadn’t opened.



Well the support act who were supposed to be on at 7pm took to the stage 30 minutes later. By this time I had already been standing for just over 4 hours. From the doors opening till the opening act DJ Felix was Djing playing songs to get the audience in the mood. The first act was a band called The Rips. They also come from Coventry they were a good band with some good songs. The last few songs had a ska vibe to them. The Rips were on for 30minutes and played around eight songs. I enjoyed the set but supporting a act that is well known like The Specials is a extremely hard task. The band looked quite young I would say about early twenties early thirties. Well when they went off at 8 we had more Djing until 8.37pm. The lights then went out music was being played. The curtains then opened to reveal a see through curtain. As soon as it dropped all hell broke loose.


The first song that The Specials sang was Do The Dog. It was a good song to open to the crowd were already jumping up and down. It definitely got the crowd in the mood for a further 21 songs. During this song Lynval was running from each side of the stage.When the song had finished Lynval took off his jacket and threw it to the side of the stage. Well the main vocalist was Terry Hall. Up next was (Dawning Of A) New Era. Before the song started the crowd were cheering and chanting Rude Boy. Following on was the debut single by The Specials it was Gangsters. It was not a song that I was familiar with from the very start but just from the atmosphere you start getting into the song. It’s Up To You is next followed by Rat Race then Monkey Man. The seventh song I had heard before and I was familiar with. Blank Expression starts off with Terry saying the opening line Snow is falling. You can definitely hear the ska-ness of this song. The audience joins in with singing the chorus. By this time I was being rammed into the barrier and I thought my back was going to give way.  I was thinking of getting pulled out but I decided to wait one more song. Well I managed to last Too Hot then Doesn’t Make It Alright, then I decided to be pulled out after when the song had finished. So I then made my way to the side where I had a good view of the stage (well it was a side on view) and I had the screen in front of me which was black and white (two toned). It was another four songs until another was played that I had heard before. Well The Specials sang Concrete Jungle, Friday Night Saturday Morning, Stereotype and Man At C & A. A Message To You Rudy was the next song this has to be one of the most memorable Specials songs. I really like this song I like its vibe and its beat. Next is Do Nothing from where I am there is no crushing it is full of space. This song has a nice pace to it. Following on is Hey Little Rich Girl which is then followed on by Nite Klub and then You’re Wondering Now. The sirens then start and it is onto the last song Ghost Town. Both Lynval and Terry share the vocals. After the song has finished The Specials leave the stage only to return minutes later for what would be their three song encore. The first song of the encore was Too Much Too Young. The crowd is already chanting and cheering. The bugle goes off and the band gets stuck into the song. After there is a rapture of applause and the stage goes dark and the band launch straight into Skinhead Moonstomp. Throughout that song you had people jumping up and down and after there was a rapture of applause. The final song on the night was the first one that the audience sang. Enjoy Yourself was that song this has to be up there on my top five Specials songs. Both Lynval and Terry sing vocals. It is a good song but I wonder why this was the last song sung on the night. It would of made more sense to be the first as one of the lines is Enjoy the show. Terry then takes a bow when the song has finished and they leave to plenty of cheering.


Do The Dog
(Dawning Of A) New Era
It’s Up To You
Rat Race
Monkey Man
Blank Expression
Too Hot
Doesn’t Make It Alright
Concrete Jungle
Friday Night Saturday Morning
Man At C&A
A Message To You Rudy
Do Nothing
Hey Little Rich Girl
Nite Klub
You’re Wondering Now
Ghost Town
Too Much Too Young
Skinhead Moonstomp
Enjoy Yourself

Overall it was a amazing night the roughness of the gig did not tarnish my experience. Some peoples experience may have been spoilt because there were pick pocketing people loosing wallets etc. Fortunately neither my dad or I had lost anything. Well this gig is something you can say you were there and you will treasure for a long time. The Specials were brilliant and I really enjoyed the songs my five favourite tracks on the night have to be Ghost Town, A Message To You Rudy, Too Much Too Young, Enjoy Yourself and Do The Dog. Plus there is Blank Expression. Well I am glad I did last a long time at the front well I lasted for 9 songs which was about 30 minutes. You could describe the front area being a mosh pit and a really rough one. Being taken out did not spoil my day. I purchased a tour programme and I got a nice T Shirt. We then made our way to the car where we stayed for another hour as the car park was jammed.


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