“There’s gonna be a terrible fight” exclaim Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson on ‘Danger’.
From the look of the crowd at tonight’s sold-out Brudenell, you’d be forgiven for thinking similarly; shaven heads, Fred Perry polos and braces make up a large proportion of the enthusiastic first few rows. It’s like being transported to This Is England’s skinheaded early 80s, fitting for a show celebrating and running through 1980 album Too Much Pressure track by track.
But The Selecter have always been about inclusion and good times, and from the moment the choppy ska guitars of ‘Three Minute Hero’ kick in, any intimidating atmosphere dissipates and the Leeds venue bounces jubilantly.
Black’s voice may have softened over the years, losing some of the rasping rude-girl styles that stood her out from her contemporaries in the first place, but she and Hendrickson are still mesmerising performers, full of movement from beginning to end and in full audience interaction mode.
“You’re the first person to ever answer me back,” barks Black at the closing moments of the comparatively tender ‘Missing Words’, taking umbrage with a lone bald head and revealing the strong character behind her ever so pleasant exterior. “But I’ll let you off because we’re in Leeds!”
Playing through Too Much Pressure in full presents the album’s shortcomings, something the band seem all too aware as they opt to leave choice tracks (namely the big-hitting title track) for the very end, presenting miscellaneous hits from other LPs in the meantime.
But The Selecter’s legacy has always been bigger than any one album, and though a greatest hits set would probably have raised the roof even more (only records of gold from start to finish should really work at these shows), get enough rabid Selecter fans in one place and you’re in for the most fun you’ll have in a long time.
Gig date: March 22