From The Specials

From The Specials

From The Specials Featuring Neville Staple and Christine ‘Sugary’ Staple

The Valley, Birmingham

19 September 2021

Being a homecoming Midlands show, this jam-packed open-air concert was an emotional post lockdown event ‘From The Specials’ for completists to new fans alike.

From the get-go, the enthusiastic crowd could not fail to be mesmerised by the mercurial Neville Staple, as his idiosyncratically charismatic glow adorned the stage alongside ‘Christine Sugary Staple’ and their incredible collective of versatile musicians.

Kicking off with a magnificent reworking of the classic Gangsters before morphing into a raucous rendition of the Bob Marley classic Simmer Down, Staple had the baying crowd eating from the palm of his hand.

Whilst remaining true to the classic two-tone sound, the band avoided convenient categorisation in a dense thicket of classic ska and reggae, tinged with undertones of new wave, blue beat and rockabilly. As they treated the audience to reworked classics such as the pertinently relevant Concrete Jungle which as opposed to proselytising from the church of disenfranchised youth provided a foot-stomping, rousing rendition of the Roddy Radiation penned opus much to the delight of one and all.

Upping the anti-further, the crowd literally went ballistic, as Neville Staple burst into the timeless crowd-pleaser Ghost Town which has his idiosyncratic unique phrasing and lyrical stamp all over it, causing the crowd to enthusiastically join in with the famous phrase, ‘This town is coming like a ghost town’.

Ringing the changes, Christine ‘Sugary’ Staple went down a storm as she launched into the infectiously catchy and upbeat live favourite Original Rude Girl Soundwhich surely with dedicated promotion, could become a worldwide standard.

Next up, feverously fabulous renditions of reimagined Fun Boy Three classics such as Farmyard Connection and The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum brilliantly belted out by the band whilst remaining true to the lyrical ethos, whilst adding a spark of surprise to the proceedings.

However, for me, the cornerstone of the set was the Neville Staple ‘staple’ Monkey Man for which he received a Brit award, memorably presented by long term Specials fan and collaborator the late great Amy Winehouse.

To my mind, this is by far the best lineup from The Specials and a tremendous testament to the fact that the enigmatically effervescent Neville Staple, is nothing less of an evergreen legend.

Although the brilliant UB40 and Beverly Knight, also on the bill, turned in mighty fine performances, in my opinion, From The Specials featuring Neville Staple and Christine ‘Sugary’ Staple were clearly the catch of the day!

Click here to witness a fantastic ska reworking of the classic John Lennon song ‘IMAGINE’ From The Specials



This is the first piece by Mike Bennett whose website is here and Wikipedia is here

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  1. What a show. The other line up are good but Neville staple proved once and for all he was key to the original sound and although the other line up do a reasonable cod impersonation this was the real deal. Its was heaving with fans in specials at shirts and a spring amount of young fans. My favourite section though was the Fun boy 3 slot lunatics was awesome. The crowd went nuts. The best line up by far

  2. It was heaving with Specials fans and this gig will stay with me for the rest of my life. songs so relevant and encore after encore. best of the reo line ups I think

    • Yes imagine is super good.

      I’m listening to specials ft Desmond Decker atm

      Another Neville based record

      He is in it. Not sure about fun boy 3 though buy did launch Bananarama

      Is that good

      Every entitled to one mistake lol

  3. Worked on the mix for both line ups. The split was a good thing as Neville is now free to do these reimagine versions. Ghost town was his baby really and he smashed it at the heaving show

    Chritine sugary is a great counterpoint and her acting talents make a change for the other vocalist.

    Both line ups work so big up to two offshoots but this is bouncy and fun and live mixing with Neville. hes and ideas man.

  4. I was stuck at the back for the first half and missed alot if visuals

    But it was loud and the set was so good

    Saw the other line up recently and though good they had a fake Neville vocal and a guy copying Roddy

    There was no Terry mimic here. Just sugary doing her own slant.

    That’s clever

    The brass section was really shanty town but guitars were punky reggae party vibe.


  5. Worked with Neville and sugary on vintage TV

    They were great she is the nuts and bolts. He is the maverick who pulls it of with wit charm and a gift for being a communicator a rare gift in this homogenized music scene but he is honest and believes in what he puts across and that’s key to his legacy

    Love imagine its uplifting

    MISSED GIG FAILURE ON COVID TEST BUT GOT ROUGHNECK ON CD. ITS MAGIC HIS AWESOME ALTER EGO. Loved his stuff with elvis Costello and the attractions too. A punk at heart

  6. I really loved skanking in the mosh pit to this incredible performance. It brought me way back to the two tone days .But this version from the specials really give it a modern twist. And i was in awe with Christine sugary Staple who is a breath of fresh air as opposed to the talented and morose Mr Hall.
    The single Imagine has already had over 60.000 hits on social media , and over 30.000 thanks to Louder than and the fan and additional 30.000 on YouTube alone .
    Sadly For UB40 despite giving a competent set they were a hard act to follow given the enormity of Specials fans who had shown up .
    And the progressive nature of Neville managed to include The Fun Boy Three set with Lunatics having resonance on modern times .
    Neville Staple Cleopatra album The return of Judge rough neck was mind blowing wish he had played more from it.
    Perhaps he will bring Rough Neck back to skamouth. lets hope so as I’m going with rude girls who love that character.
    Certainly with this last ne up it’s the dawning of a new era .

  7. I was there as a special guest as Ian in a film with these guys called laundry Matt. Christine is a FORCE actor and her stage presence was great at this gig

    Her interaction with Neville was great and the guitar player blew me away

    Cheers for sharing this with me Sage at moon ska and cheers for the in in invite guys

    Brill gig

    • Too right maggie. saw you there bopping away

      All they need to do is keep Jerry and Roddy on side they are great mates from what I’m.told….Roddy collaborates. Sugary a d Nev hold it together and from.thes specisls ha e original backing band.

      It’s a great thing that they created this new model as it really works and brings in fun boy 3.

      Clear space sound too

  8. I travelled from Scotland to see this show

    It was amazing
    Gangsters was essentially the best track but orinsk rude girl by SUGARY was so poppy radio 6 would love it

    They should get behind it

    • I think it’s sad that we jo w are two line up floating about

      Same with UB40 also on bill for this gig

      I enjoyed both bands actualy

      From the Specials were edgy but uplifting and UB40 cranked out hit after hit
      Beverly knight was also good . Her soulful voice went down well with the trilby and braces brigade I thought . She is a great performer .

      Credit where credit is due 2 Midlands iconic acts all pit on good sets
      I love th ed last album bt The Specials but live they are not so strong anymore

      I hope Dammers , staple and Roddy Byers could patch things up .

      Mind you for live the line up here wins all day long
      Terry Hall has done very well out of Neville has over the years .

      When he quit to make a bunch of mediocre projects Neville was the one who kept the Flag flying high and at one point replaced Hall with Desmond Decker. Also of course ranking Rodger for Special Beat projects

      Loyalty should cut both ways and its sad when people of a Certainly age to fall out

      Still I’m going to see Neville and his super band at their festival .

      I have all the albums. I liked the trojan period very much and the classic twist ribe period

      This new period silent feel right

      Terry’s ensuing looked stilted interviewed on the Norton show. Just 3 of them on them all with personality transplants. Neville and Jerry were always the entertaining raconteur types and Roddy was well ..Roddy is. Ool though and wrote a lot of the best tunes .

      There is an alleged rumour that Neville also a great writer sister get his writing credit for Ghost Town . He certainly did create the main hook and it’s his. Classic phrasing that makes the track . I’m sure Dammers ,also ousted for alleged political reasons can form these facts up
      It is not right the way these iconic founder members have been treated in my opinion. No doubt money is at the centre of of it though

      Thank goodness From the Specials has emerged as Roddy has played a part and more original members in this line up than the other three

      Let’s not forget Neville retained the original 15 piece brass section .

      I follow both line ups but love the fact we have Christine in this version.

      Ok ,we e had the Ska light novelty band The Bell Stars doing happy clappy fodder and Selector are female fronted and very good . But Sugary is being punky pop to the table and makes such a good foil for her Husband Neville . It’s so clear that everyone is hs ing fun on stage and that bleeds into the audience, as it did in Birmingham .

      Awesome, Keep it coming Dr Neville and crew.

      The uncertain world need people you right now and imagine is a brilliant version and so well produced.

    • True I fucking love that toon

      I love both versions but a certain x colleagues impersonation of Neville s laughable. Alike a bad entry for the defunct stars in third eyes.

      At least SUGARY dont mimic Terry Hall

  9. Great show and loving imagine single here

    Best segment for me was the Fun Boy 3 stuff. Forgot about lunatics. Very apt now LOL

  10. I came with my dad. we follow NEVILLE

    since the rebrand more die hard fans show but he has been doing capacity gigs for years

    Not being rude but I wonder how something like the Terry Hall band would have worked. He’s good but message to you and Neville’s anthem ghost town kicked it off

    Great this line up is upping the anti and sound as modern as fuck

  11. Why don’t we get a live skin from the specials. It would be magic if it sounded anything like this gig
    I love seeing Neville live but a dedicated live album would be a fan based thing but lots of us out there

  12. Since this piece traction on Imagine has gone mad. 6 music also pushed but only spot plays. Needs play listing. The fans and traction surely proves its worhy

  13. I played it at Ska night at our warehouse where judge roughneck was themed. we t down good. Mashed it with king tubby. Crowd were responding good


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