Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Specials at Lewisham Odeon

Nice piece in the Guardian today by Jon Dennis on the Specials as 'the music that changed my life': 'The Specials' Gangsters symbolised the fight against the fascists at my front door'. The author grew up in Lewisham, and recals:

'London was drab and frightening in the late 70s, nowhere more so than Lewisham, where I lived. In 1977, Lewisham had been the scene of a riot when the National Front attempted to march. There were coaches full of far-right thugs parked outside my house. My adopted sisters are black, and so for my family the NF represented an existential threat. Racism was rife among my predominantly white classmates. The Lewisham march represented a political awakening for me. I was glad of any ally, and the Specials defined themselves against the far right...

In December 1979 I attended my first gig: the Specials at Lewisham Odeon. The support acts were the Selecter and Dexys Midnight Runners. The audience were frenzied, dancing continually, with frequent scuffles breaking out. For years afterwards I assumed that violence was a normal part of going to gigs. The experience was frightening, but also exciting. It illuminated a world that was violent and hard, shone a light on the grimness of late-70s London, but also provided gleeful escape...'

That gig at Lewisham Odeon was on 1 December 1979 - quite a line up! The Selecter also played there in March 1980 (there's a recording of that gig out there somewhere)

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