13.2.16

Scritti at the Roundhouse


One word sums him up: sensitive. Green isn't comfortable on stage. He doesn't like it at all. He has taken a stoic vow with himself that it's something he needs to accept and do his best at. And hang it all, he should be cheerful...

We are aware that Green is uncomfortable. We can ascertain that he doesn't like this at all. We observe that he is giving it his best shot. This is the contract we enter into at a Scritti concert. Meta but funny too. Funny like the most Woody Allen-ish Larry David sketch. He laughs too. In his studio, away from prying eyes, Green can craft that croon. He can check his tuning. He can multitrack that beautiful, improbable voice. He's not stared at by an impassive mass of people clutching iPhones. Like me.

Showing willing tonight meant at least three things: The very first live performance of "Asylums in Jerusalem"; courtesy of senior BBC newsreader Harriet Cass (present in the audience) a re-voicing of her originally unwitting contribution to "28/8/78"; and a medley of new material. After the medley Green shakes his head endearingly - submitting his own harsh review. Accordingly there was a tremendous sense of event.

Scritti Politti have a remarkable catalogue which can be divided into startlingly distinct phases whose delineation is only made stronger by the frequent gulfs of time between them. There's the squat skronk-pop of "Skank Pop Bologna", the new-wave rocksteady of "The Sweetest Girl", the synth-spangled crossover soul of "Word Beez", the new jack swing-a-like of "She's a Woman" right to today's (and possibly my favourite) home-brewed dad-rock of "The Boom Boom Bap". That's an astonishing wealth of material to draw on and tonight, his own misgivings aside, Green and the band did it great justice.