The Selecter, Gig Review. The Olympia, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Art Comes First, those three words must be true, not only does the enigmatic and iconic Pauline Black declare it on the back of her jacket inside the Liverpool Olympia, in her presence on stage, in the way this woman to whom the world stops and trembles because of her honest and forthright views, shouted in many different phrases between songs, the small whisper of love and the wonderful sneered boom of derision to those who make life difficult for anyone who has an ounce of creativity in their bones.

Art comes first, art is the building block to which civilisation is judged, without that sturdy appreciation, we may as well go back in time to the Renaissance period and tell them not to bother, for the Gods of misrule and damnation of the soul have won.

The last night of the tour, the meaning not lost on those who danced in a 2-Tone frenzy during the set, their pulse raised, the anger of another year treated like servants to a political ideal with no structure or long term goal except havoc, the most dangerous of all feelings of moral supremacy; this was a night to revel in the Pre-Christmas Day warmth, the hopeful embrace of family and friends, or even at least comfort in the knowledge that the year has been at least kinder than it could have been. The last night of the tour, The Selecter in full flow, energy and anger, love and passion, all in the confines of a set designed to live and breathe like dragon’s fire, all consuming in the memory, one to see out the year with a sense of the ultimate.

The glory days of the venue, its golden period may be a distance off in the modern Liverpool regeneration but there is no doubt you can feel the pride, the history, the principal of the values held, great bands and a great atmosphere, one to which Pauline Black, Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson and the band gave their full and undivided attention, Art Comes First, it also comes between and is the end of all things, a belief installed greatly in the lyrics, music and songs to a crowd hanging on their every word and 2 Tone steps.

The world might be under too much pressure, we have symbols, gestures in power, not statesmen and women, but as songs such as Three Minute Hero, Missing Words, Frontline, Remember Me, The Big Badoof, Train To Skaville, the brilliance of On My Radio and Too Much Pressure shook the hall and gave the lively, Christmas tinged crowd one of their last big nights of 2017, the power we need to see us through such dark and frightening times is the hands of those who believe that Art Comes First, that without it, the mirror held up to society is one of the unfeeling, uncharismatic and the heartbeat dead.

A night in which the callous, cruel and vile objectionable would have stayed in their ivory tower and looked upon the world with disdain, long may they stay there, for in The Selecter, for Pauline Black, Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson and the band, this was a night in which to savour artistic freedom, to remind, to remember what captures the soul makes the argument stronger.

Ian D. Hall