We trammed it to Victoria, catching the 8.20pm Leeds train to Hebden. (Scritti Politti formed in Leeds, so the direction of travel seemed appropriate.) The platform number altered twice at the last minute; the carriages were crazily crammed and rowdy… a drunken man shouted ‘Absolute’ but it was a co-incidence… he meant vodka… he got off at Moston.
Arriving at Hebden just after 9, we walked downhill (roughly north) towards Station Road, where we turned left to cut through the park. The path comes out at Hebble End canal bridge onto Holme Street; The Trades Club is just on the right.
It was quarter past… up the narrow stairs… just enough time to get a drink before Scritti Politti came on at 9.30.
The Trades Club was hot, dark, barn-like and smaller than I recall from my last visit about ten years back. The main room was heaving and the atmosphere expectant but strangely most of the crowd were men… which surprised me because Green Gartside was quite the girly-pop-heart-throb back in the 80s, as well as being a critically acclaimed song-writer.
And how has the androgynous male ingenue aged? Well he doesn’t look androgynous anymore and he certainly doesn’t sound it when he speaks either (but maybe he never did)… but he looks very well, and much younger than his 57 years.
Day Late Dollar Short
When Green introduced a song and then started to sing, the effect was almost comical – a helium-inspired transformation, oddly reminiscent of Robin Williams – a lesser man might have abandoned the whole project for fear of ridicule. Fortunately, Green isn’t lesser.
The Word Girl
When Green sings live, his voice sounds just as it does on record… somewhat ethereal… perfectly controlled and measured. And the songs, of course, are pop perfection… and were performed beautifully last night by Scritti Politti’s current line-up. I’m sorry my rubbish films don’t do them much justice.
Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)
A couple of songs stood out as not being up to the same standard as the others; one, which was originally recorded with MOS DEF (I think), suffered due to the lack of an accomplished rapper on-stage, and Green duly apologised; another, introduced as Green’s first ever song-composition, seemed a rather precious inclusion. Green asked us to excuse its naivety, leaving me wondering why he chose to perform it at all. ‘Small repertoire?’ suggested my friend, raising an eyebrow… I’m sure that can’t be the case…
The sound quality in The Trades Club was excellent although you can’t tell from my recordings; the lights were also really good for such a small venue.
The band finished playing just before eleven; people were taking photos and getting things signed… but we still managed to sidle up to Green and thank him for the concert – ‘You sound just like you do on the records’ I exclaimed rather drunkenly… I don’t think he was terribly impressed by that genuine compliment but he shook my hand warmly none-the-less…
Then off we rushed, across the park, illegally clutching unfinished bottles of beer, anxious not to miss the last train home, the 11.28 back to Victoria, and the last tram at 00.25.
See Scritti Politti live if you get the chance – they’re pop gold dust – you won’t be disappointed.