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This week’s #MondayMemories are from the pages of Vague, the unmissable fanzine that chronicled the punk and new wave years across the Wessex area. On this day, 5 October 1980, The Specials played Poole Arts Centre where usherettes lined up rows of skinheads outside the Wessex Hall and made them remove the laces from their boots before admitting them to the gig! 

Here’s what happened when Vague interviewers Brendan and Jane met the band... 

"In walks Horace Gentleman, who is as you know the bass guitarist. Before answering any questions, he cadges my copy of the June/July Vague, flicks through it and notices a picture of Neville Staples, he then asks if the review was good. Horace tells us: “We had just finished the album and Jerry was cleaning it up and getting the production right, while the rest of the group were resting, but as soon as Jerry had finished the album we had our first gig of the tour in St Austell, so Jerry was a bit tired and suffering from over-work and was generally disillusioned, but everything was cleared up and here we are.”  

Horace on the NF: “W*****s! We don’t want any of their factions at our gigs. Anyway, most of the people who support the NF that come to see us don’t really understand what it all stands for. They are all just a bit thick. Did anyone see ‘25 Years of Rock’? Wasn’t it Americanised? Going to America was great for me but everything was very false. All the audience wanted to see was this hip new band from England. The record company businessmen were being friendly, which we knew was a big con and two-faced. The Japanese have a good command of English. The people there have copied American ideas and are into the same bands, so we found it very similar to America.”  

After a general Two-Tone update, we said goodbye to Horace Gentleman, a man aptly named, and then we made our way back to the pub. I heard from the bar “You’re going home in a f***ing ambulance!” The Specials were on. I stayed in the crowd for the first three numbers ‘Concrete Jungle’, ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Little Rich Girl’, by then I was knackered. They came back on after much demand from the crowd to play ‘You’re Wondering Now’, which was left to a lone skinhead to finish. 

Published 5 October 2020