Thursday, 20 March 2014

Saturday Scratch #36 - Special Birthday Edition

Yesterday, I journeyed East. East of the River Waveney. I ventured as far East as the road would take me, to the most Easterly point of the British Isles in fact. I travelled to see the legendary Lee Scratch Perry in concert, on the eve of his 78th a nightclub....on a Lowestoft. You couldn't make it up.

Aided and abetted by the current incarnation of The Upsetter Band, Scratch was on sparkling form throughout and considerably more focussed than when I last saw him 11 years ago. Between songs he exchanged greetings, words of wisdom and fist-pumps with the audience, before turning to the band and asking,'What now?' They responded by kicking in the next rhythm (sometimes familiar, sometimes not), over which Perry intertwined freeform ideas and phrases with occasional snatches of the song's original lyrics.

We were treated to smatterings from Scratch's association with Bob Marley, 'Sun is Shining', 'Jah Live' and 'Crazy Baldhead', the latter featuring shoutouts to individual members of the Royal Family, as well as other rhythms from his vast catalogue such as George Faith's 'To Be a Lover (Have Mercy)' and his own 'Roast Fish and Cornbread'.

Scratch seemed unconcerned at the abysmal turnout (around 150 in a venue with a near 900 capacity), obligingly grinning everytime he spotted a camera pointed at him and complimenting individual audience members left and right - 'I like your hair', 'I like your hat'. Finally, after 90 minutes, he sang 'Goodbye, bye, bye, bye, I got to go...' before leaving us with perhaps a little too much information '...I got to take a piss'.

Here's George Faith's original 1977 Jamaican 12" version of William Bell's 'To Be a Lover', featuring a brief cameo from Scratch himself towards the end.

Many happy returns of the day Mr Perry.


Anonymous said...

Bloody hell! Happy birthday, Scratch. Sounds fabulous and I'm so envious. Lee Perry in Lowestoft? It all makes sense.

The Swede said...

I spotted a flyer on the way out - Public Enemy are playing the same venue in June. The mind boggles.

John Medd said...

Beats Chubby Brown or Little and Large - or indeed any other traditional end of the pier acts. To Be A Lover would seriously damage any bass cabinets if played any louder than three. I've just turned it up to 11.

C said...

It all sounds wonderfully mad and parallel-worldish. What will he do for his 80th birthday - perhaps he could be persuaded to play our village hall?

Old Pa's Corner said...

I saw him in London a few years back, I suppose it may be about 11 years or so....may have been the same concert....he was bloody awful!....turned up with a gigantic spliff....the supporting bands were good 'tho.

The Swede said...

John. I chose the Jamaican mix as it's a couple of minutes longer than the UK version, though I could have quite happily settled in for another ten minutes at least.

C. That should be on his business card. 'Lee Perry, writer, singer and producer - wonderfully mad and parallel-worldish'. Good luck with the village hall gig in a couple of years time. Put me down for a pair of tickets.

Old Pa. I saw him in Norwich in 2003, one of those very loud gigs I wrote about a couple of weeks back. He gave up smoking spliff a few years ago now, but still carries a lighter in his hand at all times. He had a go at setting fire to his microphone last week.

Old Pa's Corner said...

Looks Interesting :

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