I love 2 Tone ska. It was my uncle Pim who turned me onto the 2 Tone. He was playing in a band playing a mixture of ska and soca and I loved what they did. Of course, they sounded very, erm, white. I remember hearing a tape of the band playing live in Brixton, which in the early eighties was like the lion’s den for a band of white men playing “black” music, and in between songs you could hear the Jamaicans shouting “please man, get off the stage man, please. Go home man please!”.
Probably had nothing to do with the fact of them being white. They were just bad.
Years later I saw The Specials, or what was left of them, play live. I felt ambiguous because they hardly played any new stuff, and it was 1991 already. But the new songs just weren’t as good as the ones from that incredible first album. Also, the audience all but booed them off the stage every time they played a new song, so you could hardly blame them.
The same thing happened at the Paradiso gig of The Selecter I witnessed. Although maybe a bit less. Which had a lot to do I think with singer Pauline Black‘s attitude. While well aware of the old hits’ power and the crowd’s desire to skank to nothing else, she and her boys stood their ground and played a good mix of past and present. Which made for a great gig.