Friday, July 07, 2006

Scritti Politti at the Concorde

Last year the statistics for Scritti Politti (essentially vocalist Green Gartside) were as follows: three albums in twenty years, two of those in the eighties, and no live performances in that time. Frankly, the thought of a new album and a tour in 2006 seemed as likely as The Smiths reforming. But hot on the heels of last month's White Bread Black Beer album here he is taking the stage of the Concorde on the opening night of his first tour for twenty-six years. I guess sometimes miracles do happen. And Green's voice is surely a gift from above. He opens acapella with new single The Boom Boom Bap, one of strongest songs he's ever written, the track building gradually as his new band members join him. It's a stunning start. Not wishing to trade on his past glories, the 80 minute set comprises material largely culled from this most recent album, with just a couple of tracks from his early work, and nothing from either 1988's Provision or 1999's Anomie & Bonhomie. For someone who suffers from chronic stage fright, Green seems remarkably composed - even if he is relying on a music stand to prompt his lyrics - and is bold enough to throw in a number of new songs heavily influenced by his love of American hip-hop. It shouldn't work, but as with most choices in his career, his honesty and integrity towards his peers enable him to carry it off. The small but appreciative audience respond well, but it's perhaps no surprise that the familiarity of The Sweetest Girl and the joyous rendition of Wood Beez for an encore gain the greatest applause of the night. A rare performance from an unsung musical hero, and an evening to savour.

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