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Review: The Neville Staple Band at The Junction




The former member of The Specials celebrated 40 years of 2-Tone, supported by Roddy Radiation's Skabilly Rebels.

The Neville Staple Band. Picture: Adrian Peel
The Neville Staple Band. Picture: Adrian Peel

Specials fans were treated to not one but two founding members of the legendary band as singer Neville Staple and guitarist Roddy Radiation took to the Cambridge stage on Friday, October 4.

First up was energetic ska combo, The Beat Goes Bang, featuring original drummer of The Beat, Everett Morton.

They were followed by The Skabilly Rebels, led by original Specials guitarist, Roddy Byers - aka Roddy Radiation, who noted that he hadn't played Cambridge "for years."

The Skabilly Rebels featuring Roddy Radiation. Picture: Adrian Peel
The Skabilly Rebels featuring Roddy Radiation. Picture: Adrian Peel

Describing himself as the "pop guy" in The Specials - and combining ska and rockabilly really quite effectively, though his singing isn't perhaps as strong as his guitar playing - Radiation performed a few Specials numbers in his set, including Rat Race, proudly reminding the audience that he had written it.

Some of his between-song ramblings were a little incoherent (I think at one point he was criticising people who only wanted to hear Specials songs as "living in the past"), but the songs, old and new, continued to be satisfying.

Concrete Jungle and Hey, Little Rich Girl (both songs he wrote for The Specials) were further highlights, the latter being dedicated to Amy Winehouse.

Sharing the stage with his wife, Sugary, and a six-piece band, Neville Staple also, inevitably, delved into The Specials back catalogue.

Kicking off his set with Gangsters, the instantly likeable Staple oozed relaxed charisma and charm as he performed songs from various stages of his career.

The Neville Staple Band. Picture: Adrian Peel
The Neville Staple Band. Picture: Adrian Peel

There were covers of classic reggae songs - most notably Johnny Too Bad by The Slickers, Bob Marley's Simmer Down, and Toots & the Maytals' Pressure Drop - while crowd favourites such as Monkey Man and A Message to You, Rudy were enthusiastically received.

The fans, some of whom were dancing with wild abandon, also lapped up the Fun Boy Three covers, The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum and Really Saying Something, while Ghost Town served as both a popular sing-a-long and a moment to introduce the band "because it's not all about me," said Neville.

The Neville Staple Band. Picture: Adrian Peel
The Neville Staple Band. Picture: Adrian Peel

Sadly, the venue was far from full, with Sugary blaming it on the lack of promotion carried out ahead of the gig.

Still, those of us who were there had a pretty good night, enjoying a ska-filled trip down memory lane from some of the architects of 2-Tone.



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