Review + Photos by Frank Ralph

Lee Scratch Perry is the godfather of dub, a pioneering producer and definitely the most flexible 83-year-old I’ve ever seen. Well 82-year-old… it’s not his birthday until tomorrow. Tonight, he started his birthday celebrations early in style.

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Arriving in Holmfirth, land of Last of the Summer Wine, you could hear the booming bass emerging from the Picturedrome as the band sound checked and the buzz of the crowd gathering outside waiting for the doors to open.

When they did it was down to Hebden Bridge duo Logan & Manley to warm the audience with their uplifting sound, built from recurring loops, live guitar and Logan’s soulful voice. They connected with the crowd and played a great set, bar a bit of a muddle on their final song which they had to restart. Their message was a positive one and the fact they looked so happy to be there supporting a true legend endeared them to everyone.

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Half an hour later than planned Lee Scratch Perry got a legends’ welcome when he took the stage. Rightly so too, this man defined a sound, has created so much great music and has worked with the likes of Bob Marley and The Wailers, The Clash and Beastie Boys. Iconic.

Normally he’s enveloped in a cloud of smoke but prior to this tour he declared on Facebook that it was a ‘healing’ tour and advised his fans not to gift him any ‘greens’ but to bring him mirrors to decorate is outfit with. He’s covered from head to toe in trinkets, badges and mirrors and his whole look is mad as a badger chic. He’s as eccentric as they come and it’s wonderful – a real feast for the eyes. The sight of him kicking his leg in the air and touching his toe is both surprising and impressive.

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The ears are fed with the beautiful dub reggae music coming from the stage, the band are as solid as they come and the bass shakes the foundations of this historic venue. Vocally there’s an air of ad-libbing’ but you’d never know, and it only adds to the overall vibe – which is an uplifting one. It’s hard to make out a lot of what is said on stage between songs, but love was the key theme being preached throughout the night. 

Whether LSP is preaching love, searching his pockets for some lost trinket or sporadically meowing he’s completely engaging – and he loves to connect with his fans too shaking hands with the people in the front row and at the end of the show inviting a few people on stage with him, even staying on stage to chat with the crowd when the band leaves the stage.

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This evening was so uplifting and good for the soul – trust me, the world would be a better place if we all went to a Lee Scratch Perry show.

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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