The king of bling Lee “Scratch” Perry performed once again at Leeds University during his 2013 tour, in the small club of Mine in the Union. Lee “Scratch” Perry, needs little introduction having worked in the business since the 1960s he has sold millions of records and is still doing live performances now - aged 77! When listening to reggae and dub it is vital that the night is properly equipped. Unfortunately the event didn't quite sell as many tickets as was hoped resulting in a venue change to the smaller Mine venue which didn't really have a stronger enough sound system to cater for the night.
The supporting act, The Indecision, a young male seven-piece band based in Leeds opened the night with some ska and rocksteady. The soulful and melodic sounds were heaving jazz influenced, the brass stabs and licks being particular uplifting. Rikk Richardson, who was on lead vocals, played a vintage Roland electric organ giving their jump-up sounds an authentic warm feel. They played songs off their new EP with great energy and passion, as their set progressed they definitely improved growing in confidence. It was great to hear sounds that were so fresh and up-and-coming to warm up for the renowned familiar works of Perry himself.
The master Lee “Scratch” Perry then took to the stage. Dressed as ostentatiously as ever, he came on with his usual mysterious style and the crowd, which had rapidly expanded, went wild. He performed songs from a variety of releases including the heart-warming I Love You and Sun Is Shining. The crowd was a diverse mixture of youthful students, original rude boys and ex-skinheads, all there to see the big name with the red beard.
Although Perry was perhaps more of an exhibitionist; in contrast, the band members, The Upsetters, were exceptionally accomplished musicians and created beautiful soulful music for Perry to riff with. The bass guitarist performed a solo that was electrifying. In addition, the harmonies during To Be A Lover Have Some Mercy were simply breath-taking. There wasn’t as much dub as I would have expected, they tended to focus on the reggae, which was nice but a set with a bit more variety would have gone down a treat.
Overall, despite the lack of a serious meaty sound system, the night was good fun. Lee “Scratch” Perry is famed for being an innovator and producer in the reggae and dub world, in which he has undoubtedly succeeded. Obviously his performances aren't what I'm sure they used to be but never the less it was an honour to witness a true great in the flesh.
Review by Bonny Herrington
Images courtesy of Elouisa Georgiou Photography