So first off, I went to go check out The Specials' return to New York City last night. Finally making it here after announcing their resumption of duty in 2008 (albeit without founder/organist/madman Jerry Dammers), I wasn't originally planning on going, being that they were playing Terminal 5 (which, as I may have mentioned in my report on the Stooges show there in 2008, sucks some very serious eggs). But, my next door neighbor Bruce twisted my rubber arm and convinced me to go. After all, it's the goddamn Specials! How could it not be excellent? I did have a moment of panic after ordering tickets, though, after reading that they'd canceled a few shows (though not this one) due to some health problems. But away we went.
Still smarting from the early start of that Stooges show, Bruce & I hoofed it over to friggin' 12th Avenue and entered the venue only a half hour after the 7pm door. We secured a great spot right in the center from the bar barricade, bought ourselves a couple of (very) pricey beers for ourselves and waited. And waited. And waited. With no opening band, the hours moved pretty slowly as the venue slowly filled up. I'd been expecting a more colorful crowd, honestly, but apart from a few pork pie hats, there were only sporadic sightings of full-on Rude Boy and/or skinhead finery. Mostly, it was just middle-aged folks (like…er…ourselves). As I mentioned over at The New York Nobody Sings, it seems the once-thriving NYC Ska scene has thinned out a bit.
In any case, the band hit the stage around 9:35 and launched right into it. Though a bit older and burlier looking, the patented Specials' brand of explosive stage presence remained largely intact. Guitarist Roddy Radiation still looks like a punky Eddie Chochran prone to throwing all sorts of heroic, splay-legged poses. Lynval & Neville still symmetrically bounce around with infectious energy. I'm not sure who Jerry's replacement on the organ was, but he did a fantastic job. The real star attraction was, of course, the return of original vocalist Terry Hall. While even in the band's heyday, Hall wasn't exactly happy-go-lucky, the man's onstage demeanor remains a puzzling one. Skulking around the stage in a depressive funk (despite the kinetic frenzy around him), Hall comes off like a bemused, latter-day Peter Sellers, making the odd aside to the audience. It was hard to tell at certain points if he was actually enjoying himself or not. He's like the Eeyore of Ska. His voice, meanwhile, was a distinctive as ever.
The set itself was all a Specials fan could have asked for. "Do The Dog," "Concrete Jungle" (my favorite), "Stupid Marriage," "Rat Race," "Nite Klub," "A Message to You Rudy," "Too Much Too Young" & many more were dusted off to huge fanfare and high, communal stepping. The encore was the obligatory run through "Ghost Town" (with an odd flute accompaniment in place of the ghostly chorus) and a spirited romp through "Enjoy Yourself." Overall, it was a great – if somewhat exhausting – show (and they're doing it again tonight). There's already video up on YouTube and you can check out Brooklyn Vegan's review (which I haven't read yet) by clicking right here.
In other comeback news of sorts, fans of Adam & the Ants took heart recently upon reports that Adam was recording a new album. In light of the poor man's relatively recent lapses into, well, insanity, that was encouraging news. Well, not so fast, Ant people. Brace yourselves, this story is da diddley qua-quite a disappointment (sorry).
Elsewhere, during some random `Net trawling recently, I stumbled upon this rather awesome looking trailer for a new documentary on the mighty hardcore phenomenon that are Bad Brains (note, not the Bad Brains, mind you). Sadly, like so many other cool documentaries currently "in the works" (like, say, I don't know, that Killing Joke one), who knows if/when it'll ever see the light of day?
Next up, check out this fascinating piece on one of my favorite strips of Manhattan real estate, Cortlandt Alley, courtesy of the scrupulously detail-oriented Scouting New York. Regular readers may remember that I've alluded to the same little ode to the same slab of pavement here on The New York Nobody Sings a couple of times.
Elsewhere in NYC-related news, my friend Rob spotted a curious piece in Animal recently. Evidently, a guerrilla artist is putting up handy little reminders about proper etiquette around New York City's notoriously rough-hewn subway system. Study up, cretins!
Meanwhile, a little while back, I got in an unfortunately heated exchange on Facebook after I posted a relatively tame piece of agitprop about Sarah Palin scoring a TV deal with the Learning Channel. A friend of mine who leans rather pointedly to the right took great exception to me using Facebook as a bully pulpit in this way, and viscerally took me to task for it. Fair enough … Facebook is an open forum where differing opinions should be able to mingle in an exchange of ideas that is ideally bias. I recanted, promising I'd reign in my lefty exhorting. And I have done. Still, this isn't Facebook. This is my blog. As such, please enjoy this piece wherein Jon Stewart takes fatuously pompous Bernie Goldberg and Fox News as whole to the fuckin' pavement.
In cinema doings, I hasten to point out that while I count myself as a fan of horror, even I have my standards and parameters. If anything, I tend to like a bit of plausibility in my horror films, being that it lends an extra degree of tension to the proceedings. That all said, when I saw this trailer for a movie called "The Human Centipede," I found its inherent ludicrousness and utter repulsiveness so genuinely vile that – whether plausible or not – I wasn't even able to watch the whole thing. Maybe I'm just a big p_ssy, but you give it a try and see if you can keep your lunch down.
In small screen developments, the good news is that "Mad Men," the show that single-handedly restored my faith in the possibility of worthwhile television, is coming back. The bad news is that it's probably going to end after this season. Boo!
Lastly, while out fetching lunch this afternoon, my colleague Drew and I spotted a food truck branded with the moniker, "Kosher Oasis." I mentioned that it sounded like a Jewish Britpop cover band. This somehow led to us discussing the strenuously lamentable Matisyahu, which then triggered the fond reminiscence of this bit from 'SNL.' Enjoy. Irie.