The Guardian in London were hosting an open weekend featuring talks, seminars and performances covering the myriad of content they publish. I was excited to see an evening with Green Gartside (of Scritti Politti) interviewed by their music critic and writer Alexis Demitrius. Not knowing what to expect other than an interview, we arrived to find about 50 people in a meeting room. The band were set up on a stage and we took our seats.
Green is an intriguing character. If I’m honest the first several minutes of him reading from his notes, about his philosophy on pop and rock from his beginnings in the late 70s and early 80s, went right over my head. Checking off communism, marxism or mental illness – he summarised it as “theories up the wazoo”. Clearly uber-smart, at times it seemed like he had so much in his head, he didn’t know where to start to express it all.
The interview was billed as celebrating 30 years of his first album Songs to Remember, and covered mostly Scritti’s indie early years and subsequent move into pop. The treat came when they performed a few songs. There was a moment of immense expectation as he stood before the mic as I waited to hear what he would sound like all these years after I feel in love with their pop perfection. The band sounded exactly as I wanted to hear. And that voice! Sweet, young, crisp, perfect. The setlist:
Boom Boom Bap
A new song about a dog and cat
Skank Bloc Bologna
Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)
The Cupid & Psyche 1985 album and Provision from 1988 are two of my favourite ever albums and having thrashed them when I was in my 20s in NZ, to sit in a live and intimate gig in London 27 years later and hear him sing was an absolute joy.