Perry has been described in thousands of articles throughout his illustrious career which goes back all the way to the 1950’s and includes winning a Grammy. In every single article there are mountains of different superlatives used, and rightly so, to describe the original pioneer of dub and reggae music. One further constant throughout the thousands of words written are the words ‘crazy’ and ‘mad’. And as he shimmies on stage in a red onesie, a glittering red baseball cap and a holiday wheelie travel bag you can see why. This is a man of 76. In a onsie and with a seemingly pointless trolley bag. If he was walking down Bold Street like this, you’d be looking for his carer or a number to call the local asylum to see if any lunatics had escaped. But this is exactly what a chocker Eric’s have paid £30 a head to come and see. The remarkable and quite unique, Lee “Scratch” Perry.
Perry’s backing band, ‘The Upsetters’, announce their arrival on stage with a rallying call of “can I get an irie” before launching into to some funked up reggae grooves. The MC then builds up frenzy and the cheers go up as Perry toddles on. There are problems immediately though as Perry starts to sing and his mic isn’t working. He orders the music to be stopped dead and demands a new mic. This takes an uncomfortable 10 minutes before we are back on track with first song Panta Dub.
After the initial problems the sound gets increasingly better as Perry gets into the swing of it with War Inna Babylon . In between each number there is a bit of Perry preaching going on as he repeatedly tells us all “be perfect like god”. Well at least that’s what I think he is saying as it was very difficult to make out his ramblings in his strong Jamaican accent. He sometimes speaks in bizarre riddles such as “I conquer bad luck, I conquer unluck, I conquer the chicken, I conquer the duck” .At one point he declares “eat your shit, drink up your piss” whilst balancing a bottle of water on his head. Not many 76 year olds can say that and hold an audience in their palm by doing so.
The rest of the set is played out in similar fashion with superb deep dub and bizarre ramblings. The classic Sun Is Shining unites everyone and Kaya gets the room moving whilst rounding off the set in great fashion.
How long Perry will continue to tour is unknown given his age, but I’d recommend you catch him whilst you can. It is easy to describe a musician as a ‘legend’ but for this bizarre nut job genius, the title is more than deserved