Skip to main content

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Liquid Room, Edinburgh
3 stars
In terms of inventing modern music, and as dance culture testified to, it’s the producers who matter. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is as significant as Phil Spector, Brian Wilson and Martin Hannett. Having just entered his 70s, Perry’s golden days at Jamaica’s Studio One and his own Black Ark studio have given him an iconic status his alleged unhinged status is acutely aware of to the point of calculated self-destruction.

These days, given Perry’s status as a Swiss resident, it’s somehow understandable that his latest incarnation of backing band The Upsetters is a slickly louche combo who’ve fully absorbed their chops in a medium that never quite transcends its studio origins. An elongated wait eventually gives way to a couple of instrumental workouts before the lead mic is removed to allow the maestro himself to make his entrance in full vocal motion.

What follows is a charming set only remarkable for proving just how much Perry, clad in more bargain-basement but oddly understated bling than any self-respecting Hip-Hop freak would think decent, is fully in tune with his personal faculties, if not always his musical ones. Outed as being 71, he points out that, both numbers added together make him actually eight years old. More pertinently, he thanks his few black fans in attendance, as well as his many white ones he greets as his shadow.

Musically speaking, you get the sense that Perry is coasting across a well-drilled backing that blands things out as well as providing discipline. A version of Papa Was A Rolling Stone allows Perry to doff his (shiny) cap to the grand tradition of reggae cover versions. Perry remains an icon. His live mix, however, sometimes remains wanting.

The Herald, March 27th 2007



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …