SAN ANTONIO, IBIZA. SEPTEMBER 14th.
Well, that was supposed to be that but as usual in Specialworld, things can change.
Mike Darling, our old tour manager organizes the Ibiza Rocks concert series (see Chapter 6) so he calls up and wonders if there’s any chance The Specials could play the final concert in this year’s series. This is all very well but I’ll be half way through my family holiday in Devon. Everyone else is up for it so as we’re a democracy these days, we’re going to Ibiza. The sweetener is that we can stay for the whole week if we so desire. Now I don’t want to come across as one of these grumpy old men (perish the thought Horace), but I’m reminded of what Jean-Paul Sartre said: ‘Hell is other people’. The idea of spending a week in Ibiza with lots of ‘other people’ is…………well, you can guess, I hope.
So I have to re-adjust my head back into Special-mode and get on the plane.
In this case it’s the flying shopping experience that is Ryanair from East Midlands airport on Tuesday (show day). No Sammy as I’m driving myself up to Castle Donnington to get the 10:40am flight, which is bearable this time, due to the fact that I’m in i-pod mode and have my headphones on. The party is in full swing as we go through customs and wait for our luggage. ‘Budgies Stag Do’ t-shirts are everywhere and I overheard a Welsh gentleman proclaim that he’d already drunk 2 and a half bottles. Not mineral water I’ll wager. I’m met at the airport by Steve (not the manager) Blackwell and Stuart, one of the drivers for the venue. We speed off through a torrential downpour; according to the driver “this is the second time it’s rained this year!” We eventually arrive at the villa at the end of a dusty track. There I find Lynval and Brad and his family.
The Bradbury’s are staying here until Friday. Everyone else is in San Antonio where the gig is. Ah yes, the gig. It’s basically the enclosed courtyard the Ibiza Rocks hotel. Swimming pool at one end and a festival-type stage across the other end. There’s room for 2,500 in front of the stage but, of course, all the balconies look over the courtyard. See The Specials from the comfort of your own room; take a piss during the lead guitar break in Blank Expression and be back in time for the last chorus. What fun. We do the sound check without Neville who is hobbling about nearby and without Terry, who’s flight gets in around 5:30pm. Terry’s suffering from a chest infection and is going to be under a lot of pressure this evening. We complete the soundcheck and head back out of the hotel to get a ride back to the villa. It is outside the hotel where I meet my first Spanish person! A taxi driver. ‘Hola! Buenos Dias!’ I cry. ‘Hola’, he cries back, ‘Taxi’? I’ve been on this island nearly 5 hours and everyone I have met has been English. Crazy. The King Blues, who played with us at the Albert Hall earlier in the year, are supporting this evening and do a sterling job. (Lynval spends most of the time between numbers in our set bigging them up. Is he on their payroll or something?) It’s 10:20pm and we’re all here. Nev is a bit more mobile (he’s had some tablets to ease up the problem with his leg) and Terry is trying to be as quiet as possible and looks like he’d rather be somewhere else to be honest. Nonetheless, 54-46 kicks in and whether we like it or not, it’s showtime.
I was incredibly nervous this afternoon. Like I haven’t been this nervous for years. I suspect it’s coming from my holiday/relaxed frame of mind into the hyper-adrenaline world of The Specials. As usual, when the drums start and the bass kicks in, it’s business as usual and, as per usual, we do the business. Roddy messes up the Duane Eddy bit on Blank Expression but apart from that, is on fine form. Concrete Jungle rocks very hard this evening. Nev has fun too, distributing bottles of water to the front rows. At one time I saw him wearing a Coventry City flag as a cape. People from Coventry get everywhere! Terry’s voice holds up for the first half of the show but gradually gets quieter and quieter. I really feel for him. Luckily Neville, Lynval and Roddy sing too, so we pull it off - just. Brad battles with a smoke machine that is placed just behind the stage. (It makes the lights look good.)
It also makes it difficult to breathe, which is not good for Terry, who’s having enough difficulty as it is, or for Brad trying to play drums, which is nothing if not a demanding physical activity. After a bit of shouting it is turned off. The crowd don’t seem enthusiastic but there again it is only 11pm and for the majority of them the night has only just started and at least another 6 hours of alcohol and hedonism await. (The promoters and hotel owners are really impressed with the performance and the gig in general has created a tremendous buzz across the island apparently. Tickets went faster than those for The Prodigy and Dizzee Rascall.) Enjoy Yourself is our last song and we’re off. Terry’s voice has practically disappeared so we go back on without him and thunder through Guns of Navarone.
Roddy comes up to me afterwards in the dressing room, puts his hand on my shoulder and says ‘I wanted to play some more’. Me too, mate, me too. The atmosphere is, consequently, a little subdued backstage but this doesn’t stop the Ibiza Rock-ers and the 24-hour party continues around us. Male dress code, I have observed, is shorts and tattoos with beer bottle accessory. After blagging some t-shirts and listening to some d.j. guy hammering on to Steve (not the manager) Blackwell about ‘future plans in Ibiza’, Lyn, Brad plus family and I head on back in Stuart’s van to the villa. I get to sleep (eventually) under a mosquito net - a first!
Due to a surfeit of adrenaline, I don’t sleep too much and at 7am I’m trying to find something that looks like breakfast. Lynval joins me around 8am and we sit out on this veranda thing listening to the loudest frogs I have ever heard and watching tiny lizards scamper up the walls. Stuart arrives sometime after 11am with Neville and Tony (the trumpet) and we get in the van, then get on the plane, then get off the plane, then get in the car. Travel, travel, travel. Still, we’ve got a few months of down time until we get to do this again next year. Ah, Next Year!!………….