Nottingham City Pulse: Secret Affair and Neville Staples
Last weekend saw the new annual Nottingham music festival, City Pulse, return to various outdoor points around the city. By the Nottinghams castle a marquee was erected for dancing whilst in the Forman Street, Trinity Square and Hockley areas, a bill of musicians was organised. The main arena however is in the Old Market Square which has a bill for all three days over the Ban Holiday. There has been some criticism of some of the performers laid on with perhaps, shall we be kind here and say their star has slightly faded. It’s all totally free though and brings a little vibrancy in Nottingham’s city centre for a few days. I eyed up the official programme to note that the Saturday night might be worth a visit with Secret Affair playing at 7p and the Neville Staples (of The Specials fame) Band appearing at 8.30pm.
Secret Affair being the old modsters that they are played a fair few Tamla tunes in their hour-long set. The seven-piece band had a couple of handy horn players plus singer Ian Page who is also a talented trumpet player. He seems to have mellowed from the slightly precious, angry and precocious young mod that he could be at times back in the seventies. Between 7pm and 8pm the square already had a good crowd gathered. It’s sort of strange, seeing guys like this all of thirty years later, but I really like the fact that these sort of people are still around.
After a pint at The Cape Bar we returned for Neville Staples and the boys. with darkness descending and the Old Market Square bathed in a light show, the band took the stage sans their guitarist who was ‘still on the motorway’ according to Nev – he didn’t want to keep us waiting though he mentioned.
The band blasted into a blistering rendition of ‘Monkey Man’ and the square was rocking with guys in Fred Perry’s and a few pork pie hats jumping around. That’s a lie – everyone was jumping around! The guitarist arrived after a few minutes as the set flowed through one ska classic after another, Toot’s and The Maytals ‘Pressure Drop’, ‘Simmer Down’ and plenty of Specials hits including ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Gangsters’, ‘A Message to You Rudy’ and many more. Neville found the time to harangue one poor observer down front who steadfastly refused to dance whilst looking on disapprovingly. ‘This is not The Specials’ mate – if you want to see The Specials come along tomorrow, it’s fifty quid a ticket!’ shouted Neville! It was all in good nature though. Neville is still the big daft laddie that he ever was. A lad just out for a good time playing the music he loves.
Pauline Black came out to good applause and sang three Selector hits. She looked cute in her rude girl outfit and bounced around the stage with lots of enthusiasm and style. She sang well too, staying on to finish the set with Neville and the band.
The set ended fairly abruptly after one call back – Neville had another gig somewhere that night plus a Specials gig the day after! A good night’s entertainment all completely free. Well done Nottingham, I look forward to the next one.