Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Scritti Politti in W12
There was much excitement on Sunday night as we headed out in the freezing cold to Shepherds Bush to see Scritti Politti play live. This was a dream come true for me, as I've been a huge fan since I was seven and first heard "The Word Girl" in 1985 (in a cricket pavillion in North Perrott). Green Gartside (for whom Scritti is a musical vehicle) rarely plays live - and until earlier this year, he hadn't played live since 1980 owing to nerves... and his nerves were very evident on Sunday, especially in the early half of the set. But despite this, he put on a fantatsic performance.
Until very recently, Big Brother 2 lived in Dalston Kingsland, two doors down from Green, and frequented the same pub that Green apparently uses as his second home... which is the same pub in which Green (apparently) recruited his current backing band. Sadly BB2 has bizarrely chosen to emigrate to the cultural desert that is Melbourne, so instead of going with him, I had to take P - who barely knew what he was coming to see.
Opening on "Snow In Sun", with a glittery discoball light effect, Green kicked things off as he meant to go on - playing largely from his recent Mercury Prize-nominated album "Black Bread, White Beer", and adding in a few older smatterings such as "The Word Girl" (my personal highlight), "The Sweetest Girl" and even 1978's "Skank Bloc Bologna". As newcomer P observed, Green is nothing if not diverse - mixing in influences from ska, hip-hop, rap and reggae. But since we're talking about a man whose musical collaborators over the years include no less than Miles Davis, Kylie Minogue and Shabba Ranks, what more could you expect? Hell, he even had a track on a Madonna film soundtrack way back when.
It seemed like a very intimate concert experience, with a rather unique audience. There were no noticable smokers, no significant drinkers, and I (at 28) was by far the youngest person in attendance and one of the few females. We also counted three people with walking sticks, and lost count of the number of people with white hair. To sum the audience up, I'd say they went to art college in an out of the way place like Bromley around 1980, and like to wear their hair just a little touselled to show they still have a bit of edge. Quite what this says about Scritti I'm not sure I want to acknowledge.
To me, Scritti are up there with my all time favourites. I remember the excitement of going round second hand record shops, snapping up Rough Trade 7"s of "Asylums In Jerusalem" and "Lions After Slumber", and my joy at finding a German Virgin 12" of "The Word Girl" at a car boot sale in Somerset. But none could match the highlight of coming across a 1978 7" of the legendary "Skank Bloc Bologna" (complete with photocopied wrap-around sleeve detailing exactly how to press your own single) in the darkened gloom of the now defunct Revolver Records on Park Street in Bristol (this was the original HQ for the influential independent Revolver distribution chain, which is now, horiffically, a coffee shop and stands as further proof of the vile nature of global monopolisation by the big cheeses at EMI etc). To clarify this point, "Skanc Bloc Bologna" is one of those records that people like Simon Reynolds and Jon Savage always refer to in their books about punk because it had such a revolutionary new twist on the DIY ethic.
Anyway, I've waffled. But I'm excited. Still. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to see Scritti live, and I'm thrilled that I now have as I doubt it will happen again. For further reassurance of my fandom - if I had to pick just one album for my desert island, I'd make it a Scritti one.
Posted by Velvet Empire at 11:35 am