The Beat and the Specials played a fund raising gig in the Stardust Ballroom to over 3000 people, exactly a month before that awful night on 14th February 1981 when fire swept through the Stardust killing 48 people and causing serious injury to 128 others.
terry hall specials artane stardust ballroom jan 1981
I had forgotten this gig took place and was only recently reminded about it when Enda Murray mentioned it in his post on this blog about the impact the tragedy had on him and a his pals in Drogheda. I found a review of the Specials gig in an old Record Mirror from 24th Jan, 1981 and have scanned it in.  The great pic of Terry Hall from the gig was taken by Colm Henry. I had forgotten how much violence or the threat of violence existed at gigs & ordinary discos/dances back then.

Click here to read my Totally Dublin piece on the gig. 

specials beat jan 15 1981 advert

See also: Specials at Easons, Connolly Station 1979

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. yup this was a bloodbath of a gig.
    Still enjoyed the Specials though.

    1. i only live 5 minutes from the stardust had to jump out my mams bathroom on to the flat roof extension and leg it up the road to see the band that that took over my life bad memorys that night of the trouble the gig was electric first time iseen ablack man in real life 31 years later went to see them in cork last night still playing a role in my life excellent last night aswell regards paul heller original rude boy dublin

      1. What a great gig!
        And i also saw them 30 odd years later at Brixton.
        Its true about not seeing black people in Dublin, my granny used to say’ if you ever see a black man, touch him for good luck’ lol

      2. Morning Paul. Met you yesterday, chatted about scooters. The shop name is actually Buzzsolomoto, phone number: 01422 385818. Unit 3 Princess Court, 17 Chapeltown, Pellon Lane, Halifax, HX1 5SR. Opening times: 9:30am – 5pm.
        Cheers pal

    2. Wasnt it fun though! : )

  2. remember it well great Gig ,nightmare getting back to Finglas

  3. “The black guys in the band were the only coloured people I saw the whole time I was in Dublin…”

    That would have been accurate 30 years ago alright.

  4. I’ll always remember this gig as it was my first ever!
    Having just moved to Dublin from London as my parents thought Ireland safer for their 5 kids ( obviously had green tinted spectacles as it was rife with drugs and high unemployment at that time), me aged 16, my brother and a friend aged 15 clutched our tickets bought from ‘Golden Discs’ and set off to North Dublin from Tallaght ( the posh side lol ).
    My memory of that night is hazy but i will always remember the high spirits, bordering on crazy really, i recall a lot of pushing, shoving, shouting and fighting going on amid the exciting sound of The Specials and The Beat.
    I do remember Terry Hall shouting ‘No violence, we hate violence’ to the oblivious ears of young people boot stomping, shouting, singing and going nuts!
    Me, my brother Peter and our friend Stephen were stomping our feet big time on a huge black speaker that vibrated all the more, it seemed with that Ska bass.No ‘Health and Safety’ regulations back then,tragically, it turned out.
    It was the most frenetic, exciting, craziest night of my life at that time. So wonderful to escape the unemployment, misery, regret of my parents at moving from London to Dublin for a night of pure escape!
    I remember how disorganized it all was, chaotic and a bit shambolic trying to get out afterwards with the crowds.
    And i remember the comedown after that kind of gig….the ‘back to reality’ feeling when you step out of the venue, blink, focus and look for a bus to make your way home, ears ringing and a sadness that the mundane awaited you next morning
    I also remember with sadness, shock and horror the fire that killed 48 young people a month later and couldnt believe how lucky we were to be alive after hearing of the tragedy.
    Seems such a long time ago and i’ll never forget that gig,
    I saw The Specials at Brixton Academy about 4 or 5 years back, again with my brother and our friends and it seemed surreal.
    It was also a good gig, not great, the sound wasnt too good, the crowd older, the energy never as young and fresh as when we were all teens…us and the band…it just wasnt….but it could never really be, could it! : )

    1. Love your descriptive account of your first gig, Lorraine. Many thanks for sharing.

    2. All. Remeber it well…. Great gig. Violence terrible… took me ages to get out when it finished. Had to wait for my brother to pick me up outside the Goblet to get back to Rush. If memory serves me right the Selector opened up the gig? Pauline Black was excellent and very pretty. I am sure the Selector were there or maybe that was a different gig…. It was the Olympics of SKA in the one place on one great night of music and thankfully mainly positive energy……….Kaiser.

  5. Went to see The Specials in the Olympia last night – great gig. I’d say there were a few more who had been to the ’81 gig too judging by the age profile, the receding hair and the extra few pounds! No crowd invasions though – much more good humoured than The Stardust.

  6. Ah , i remember this gig well, there was me a 15 year old black guy from Dundrum all the way over the northside,
    I went to this gig at about doors wernt due to open till 6.30, Red harrington jacket and a pork pie hat on, one of the door men thought i was with the band because i was black, so i got in the side door ha ha , sterotypeing or what, i didnt care, one of the best gigs i was at, but then youth is a wonderful thing.
    Was crazy trying to get back to the southside that night.
    One picture that will remain with me is the tour bus with the bands on it passing me and a few guys from dundrum on the way home and as it passed the back luggage door was open and there was a little skinhead guy sitting with his legs dangling out the back of the bus.
    So sad what happened only a month later…..

    1. Hi Jeff , myself, Kieran Malone and Collie Bergin were with you that night, a fuckin brilliant night. Everyone dancing and having a laugh, a long fucking walk back to Dundrum afterwards.

  7. One of the best gigs I was ever at with Jeff, Collie and Kieran , one fucking long walk back to Dundrum after it was over. Some of the people outside thought Jeff was Ranking Roger, great night.

    1. Hi John I hope you have such fond memories of gigs at the Baggott Inn with me! Long time ago xxx

    2. Yea John great night, and yea i remember being confused for ranking roger,,,ha,ha,,,,when i came in the side door i ended up coming out onto the stage, there was a cheer, i just jumped down and went to a seat, with one of those little tables in front of it,,,great memories,,,

  8. Hard to believe now that good times were indeed had in the Stardust, Artane before the awful events of Feb ’81.
    Did Terry Hall’s Specials sing ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ c.1984 ?

  9. Hall had left by then – it was all Jerry Dammers with guest vocalists and they changed their name to The Special AKA by then.

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