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On tour with The Specials

Our brilliant and long serving Tonic volunteer Jan writes about being on tour with The Specials.

Tonic accompanied The Specials throughout their 2019 tour. We raised mental health awareness and promoted Recovery Through Music.

Jan dancing with Lynval Golding (Tonic ambassador and guitarist for The Specials)


Jan’s story:

Last year I went to 16 gigs with The Specials. My job was to setup and man a Tonic information stand. This is a story about the gigs I went to in Liverpool and Coventry.

I had never been to Liverpool before. My husband Tom and I arrived at the venue in the pouring rain, but the doormen weren’t having any of it when we tried to get in – and no, I didn’t say, “don’t you know who I am?” I politely explained who we were, gave them my lanyard (they were lucky, that doesn’t come off for just anybody), and then off they went to find Mike Darling, manager of The Specials, who we had already previously met.

A while later, and still dripping wet, along came Mike with a hug and a kiss. We went in with him and he found us a space for the Tonic stand right next to the stage under the gods.

And then along came lovely Tim the coach driver and a roadie.

“Are you Steph’s mum and dad?” they said.

“We are”, we said.

And then came an outpouring of praise for Steph and all that she does.

They promptly gave us three drum skins, all signed by The Specials, as well as a signed setlist for the night. I was gobsmacked. Then Mike Darling returned and gave us two tickets inscribed “AAA”.

I phoned Steph and said, “I’ve been given two tickets that say AAA. What are they?”

“My god mum, that’s Access All Areas”, Steph said.

“Right”, I said, “I’ve got no time to go and find Terry Hall, he’ll have to come to me.” More about that later.

I sent Steph pictures of the drum skins and the setlist. She was over the moon.

In our position under the gods we experienced yet another kind of pouring. This time, it was beer tumbling over the rails. Luckily we made friends with a bouncer who put a stop to it. We gave him sweeties all night as payment.

And now to our Tonic patron Terry Hall and Coventry Cathedral. Terry and the band came out before the doors opened and joined us at the Tonic stand. I asked for a photo and told him to smile for Steph (instead of that moody sexy look he goes for). He obliged and told me to “Shake your buckets”. Lovely Lynval then danced with me and I had my photo taken with the wonderful Steve Cradock.

On the last night at Coventry they gave me one of The Specials’ camo jackets. I showed it off good and proper. And yes, we did shake them buckets.

I am so proud of everyone who supports Tonic. You enable us to help others.

It’s a privilege for me to be a part of and I am truly humbled.

Thank you.

Ma Langan xx




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