TVD Live Shots: The Specials and L.A. Salami at the House of Blues Anaheim, 6/2

The Specials are by far one of the most influential ska bands of all time. Founded in 1977, their unique brand of music helped to revive a little-known genre originating in Jamaica in the late 1950s. The Specials’ fusion of traditional ska music with a formidable punk rock attitude and danceable rocksteady beats took the world by storm with a sound so unique it created its own genre, Two-Tone.

Who would have thought that four decades and over 20 albums later, this group from Coventry, England would still be around, playing the music they love to packed houses all around the world? Back then, probably not too many. However, The Specials withstood the test of time and are still one of the most dynamic bands to ever hit the stage. Their show at the House of Blues in Anaheim on June 2nd was no exception and thrilled the thousands of loyal fans in attendance.

Before we jump into the review, readers should know that The Specials original date at the House of Blues on May 28th was cancelled moments before hitting the stage. Guitarist Lynval Golding fell ill soon after his performance on the Jimmy Kimmel Live television show with what we now know was a severe bout of dehydration. Although fans were disappointed, The Specials stepped right up and immediately rescheduled the show for Sunday night and dubbed it “A Night with The Specials.” There would be no opener on Sunday, just the Two-Tone favorites playing an extended set in front of some ecstatic fans.

Prior to the show cancellation on Tuesday, I was able to catch opening act L.A. Salami. The London native is best known for his acoustic folk music and did a nice job in the short time he had on stage. Although many enjoyed his set, I personally thought his unique style of folk was a bit more subdued than I would have expected at a ska show. Don’t get me wrong, L.A. Salami was lyrically solid and an extremely talented musician in his own right. However, I would have preferred an opener that fired up the crowd and readied fans for a nonstop night of dancing rather than creating a more melancholy mood in the vein of Bob Dylan or Neil Young.

But now onto The Specials. Curtains were drawn promptly at 8:30PM and the now packed dancefloor erupted as they blazed into their 1980 classic, “Man at C&A.” Lynval Golding grabbed the mic shouting, “Warning, Warning, Nuclear Attack…!” as the rest of the band energetically made their way to the stage. But before the song took off, Golding took a moment to apologize to fans for the cancelled show. In a world where most bands fail to capture moments like this, The Specials did so and it made all the difference in the world. After a brief pause, the band fired back up, Terry Hall walked out, and the show was finally off to the races.

For the next 2 hours, the thousand+ fans in attendance were captivated by The Specials and their amazing setlist, including favorites “Nite Klub,” “Gangsters,” and “Concrete Jungle.” The classic covers of Danny Livingstone’s “A Message to You, Rudy” and Toots & Maytals’ “Monkey Man” pumped rock-steady energy into an already rabid crowd. The night ended with a three-song encore, capped off with the Skatalites’ classic “You’re Wondering Now.” It was the perfect way to end the show and one that Rude Boys and Rude Girls in attendance won’t soon forget. At a time when many of us are caught up in the day-to-day “Rat Race,” who wouldn’t prefer to spend their Sunday night just like this?

L.A. SALAMI

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