Monday, 20 April 2015

Kew the Music - throwing up something Specials reports the Richmond & Twickenham Times

When the Specials perform at Kew Gardens, they will be without three original members - but drummer John ‘Brad’ Bradbury says the door will always be open.  

The 2-Tone legends reunited in 2008, performing a string of comeback gigs, but keyboardist and songwriter Jerry Dammers chose not to be part of the band he formed 30 years previously.  

Seven years and a handful of sell-out tours later and only four of the magnificent seven remain, although Brad says the door is always open for them to return.  

He says: "It is an interesting process we have gone through, starting with the six members when we reformed at Bestival and people [vocalist Neville Staple and guitarist Roddy Radiation] leaving of their own volition.  

"But I see the whole thing, the Specials, as a brand bigger than any of its members - we have got this healthy development between the rhythm section and vocals.  

"I think the people that really want to be there are there at the moment.  

"Although, to me, no door closes and when you leave it is a question of making in-roads back into the band but I’m not sure they want to come back."  

Brad, lead singer Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter have been joined recently by Steve Cradock, who plays guitar with Ocean Colour Scene, and the Dead 60s’ Matt McManamon.  

One man unlikely to join his former band mates is founding member Dammers, who joined the band for just two rehearsals when they reunited before walking away, seemingly forever.  

"Jerry Dammers came along to two rehearsal sessions but he didn’t find it conducive," says Brad.  

"To be honest we had an idea of what we wanted to do, he had his opinions but I’m not sure if he hung around long enough to work his ideas into what we were doing.  

"They were short-lived rehearsals and I couldn’t attend one of them because I had done my back in, but contrary to what you read elsewhere it just didn’t work out."  

The Specials drummer adds he would be keen for Dammers, and other former members to return some day, and that he has no problem with people coming and going.  

He says: "Of course it would be good if we all got back together one day - it would be great."  

Brad and the band recently completed a sell-out UK tour, as well as a short jaunt to Chile and Mexico earlier this year, but he is unsure future gigs will follow the same format.  

He says: "There will be something different happening in 2016; that is all I can say.  

"We are going to be travelling abroad next year and one reason for visiting South America was to dip our toe in the water and visit a fan base we waited a long time to see.  

"As far as touring is concerned, I’m not sure they will take the same form they have in the past.  

"Anything we do next year will involve a recording studio - albums are gone and it is more likely to be a release or two."  

The Specials' live shows may have been toned down slightly since 1979 but they still rank among the best live performers in the world - although there is one thing Brad is missing.  

"In the old days it was all about the stage invasions," he says. "Now that doesn’t happen anymore because of the health and safety aspect of course but that was the highlight of the gig for me back then.  

"We were in Amsterdam once playing Sock It to ‘Em JB when the stage collapsed - you can still see it on YouTube.  

"It was frightening to watch but nobody got hurt, in fact we had two or three collapse on us."  

As well as his passion for Ska and Rocksteady, Brad’s true love is northern soul, demonstrated in his later band JB’s Allstars, whose single Alphabet Army was the last release on Dammers’ 2-Tone label.  

He says: "Northern soul is in my blood, the same as reggae or Rocksteady, they are the two things I grew up on.  

"They are lifeblood to me, something I play every day."  

The Specials have enjoyed rapturous successes both in their heyday and since reforming and a little known fact is that Elvis Costello, who performed at Kew last year, produced their debut album.  

And Brad admits Costello is an artist he would be keen to hook up with again.  

He says: "The only person I think I would like to work with is Elvis Costello, that man has stood the test of time. I would love it if we worked with him again.  

"I am really looking forward to the gig, it’s going to be a new experience for Kew, that’s for sure - our fans are incredibly respectful so I think you can say it will be the right type of mayhem."

• The Specials at Kew the Music; Kew Gardens, Kew Road, Kew; July 11, 5pm; adults £45, under-16s £27; visit for more information.

No comments:

Post a Comment