photo courtesy of Adam McGrath
For someone who infamously burned down his recording studio because of “bad spirits”, vibes are always going to be an important aspect of the performance but Lee Scratch Perry’s presence at the Brighton Music Hall last week only brought elation.
Opener Dub Apocalypse were a tight band playing an echo drenched set that clearly showed an appreciation for the Upsetter. Like any good dub group worth their weight they knew how to lay down a strong bass groove with slippery rhythms that allowed bandmates to trade off solos without being too indulgent. Sax player Timo Shanko gave a nice twist adding a distinct jazz flavor to the music bringing it from joyous to rude. In between songs when announcing Perry’s imminent set they sounded more excited than the audience.
Music, much like Perry’s Rastafarianism, has always been treated with a certain sacredness by him so fittingly his introduction to Boston started with the DJ from Subatomic Sound System doing a drum and bass mix to help “set an atmosphere” before he came out. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get into it as it started to resemble more of a rave with fans losing themselves in the booming slabs of concrete bass. Lee came out shortly after dressed in jewelry and sparkling clothes reminding everyone why he’s still held in such high regard. This being the 40th anniversary tour of Super Ape he jumped right into “Zions Blood” and proceeded to play a majority of it during the set. Hearing it live only complimented the album further as the music sound as contemporary as when it was recorded.
There was something shaman like about his performance that night as he acted like a guide for the sound on stage channeling his own interstellar ideas to the audience. Subatomic Sound System were the perfect back up blurring the lines of reality where at times it seemed like they were sampling passing cars and filtering it into the sound. Even at 80 Perry still has an energy to him and though at times it was hard to discern what he was saying he had no problems interacting with the crowd including bringing a fan on stage to dance. Ending with the sounds of space ships taking off to return Perry to whatever planet blessed him to visit us, the show still wasn’t over. Staying on the stage and talking with the crowd it was only after several reminders and an impromptu “Happy Birthday” singalong that he finally relented while complaining about Boston’s music curfew and leaving us with a strong impression.The show isn’t over until Perry says it is.