Let it Burn – Lee Scratch Perry at Brukbar/Blæst

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What song were you singing when you got home last night? That’s what we want to know. Blood blood blood, blood and fire… that’s what I’m saying. Hear me now!

“Shut up!” screams my wife. “It’s a Monday night!”

Great privilege to witness and shoot the mighty Lee Scratch Perry at Brukbar/Blæst last night. Probably the busiest we have ever seen the club, and let’s not forget … it was a Monday night.

The legendary Jamaican producer and pioneer, accompanied by longterm associate The Mad Professor, pulverised the crowd with his dub and reggae machine. There was a wait for the 80-year old upsetter to take the stage, and you have to forgive us non-believers for suspecting that he might never arrive, whilst Mad Prof laid down the remixes (or should I say RIMIXes?!).

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But then a suitcase appeared, a bunch of bananas, a glass of champagne and the lights went up. So did the lighters, on several occasions, but not in a Michael Jackson sort of way. And then Perry, adorned with mirrors, shaman-like bangles and red beard dye, took to the stage.

It was a visceral and eccentric performance, and there is nothing like an old dude strutting his stuff and having the time of his life. It gives you hope, pure unadulterated hedonistic hope, hope of a life lived to the full and happy future. Perry had plenty to say too – mostly about how cigarettes give you cancer. Though that was about the extent of the family-friendly content. I’m pretty sure everyone shared a favourite moment during the concert, but I aint gonna write about that now. Let’s just say it was an “I was there when..” sort of thing.

Lee Scratch Perry is the creative effort which helped unleash Bob Marley on an unsuspecting world. A humble songwriter for the likes of Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and King Tubby, who has remained committed to experimenting with the musical form. In the 70s he started the infamous Black Art studios and collaborations with many of the greats followed – Max Romeo, The Congoes, the Abyssians , Delroy Wilson, The Heptones and even the Clash.

Perry later burnt down the Black Art Studios in ’84. Having witnessed last night I’d say it’s likely that many buildings he enters suffer similar fates. Blood blood blood, blood and fire… mercy lord!

Haile Selassie.

(all photos by Wil Lee-Wright)

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