The Double Door in Chicago: The New Green Party Headquarters.
Posted by John J. Hyde
Photography and Journalism by Gary Bingner
My wife and I traveled from Minneapolis to Chicago to see Scritti Politti at the Double Door Nov. 4. We were not the only ones to make a considerable journey to â€œparty with Greenâ€. There were visitors from Canada, New York, Italyâ€¦even the Scritti Guru John Hyde made the trip from Minnesota. Chicagoans seemed to be in the minority among the hard core fans.
I had the opportunity to talk with Green both before and after the concert. Considering how I venerate him as my most revered â€œpop starâ€, I was taken aback (but delighted, of course) by how kind, humble and accessible he made himself before and after the show.
The Double Door is a modest (capacity: 473) and rather â€œearthyâ€ nightclub in the hip Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. Before the show, Green could be seen hanging near the bar autographing memorabilia and chatting with fans. Even after the gig, he popped up near the merchandise table signing autographs and shaking hands.
The merchandise table, incidentally, offered only three items: a tour t-shirt for $20, a set of three small WBBB buttons for $5, and a limited edition signed poster for $20 (all of which I purchased!). Most of what Green ended up signing was souvenirs fans brought from home.
â€œMy god, even I donâ€™t have one of these,â€ Green said to a fan who produced a rare 45 for him to sign. â€œBut I donâ€™t have any of this stuff.â€
Green was also seemed delighted by a fan wearing a â€œTinseltown to the Boogiedownâ€ t-shirt. â€œI love your shirt,â€ he raved. â€œIâ€™ve never seen one of those. Whereâ€™d you get it?â€ Green was also asked to sign a baseball, which appeared to intrigue him. â€œIâ€™ve never seen one of these close up.â€ (Incidentally, his autograph consists of his first name, printed in all capital letters. GREEN.)
Despite all the 80â€™s memorabilia he was being asked to write on, it was obvious Greenâ€™s not big on nostalgiaâ€¦especially about his own work or career. â€œI never read anything about me or watch anything about me,â€ he admitted. â€œIt makes me uncomfortable.â€ When I mentioned Iâ€™d exchanged emails with David Gamson through Gamsonâ€™s website, Green said heâ€™d never been there, claiming, â€œI never look at anything to do with any of us.â€
Green also told me he finds it equally difficult when fans praise him. â€œI hated it when people said bad things about me or the work Iâ€™d done, but I also felt really uncomfortable if people said something complimentary.â€
Despite seeming very outgoing and at ease with so many fans (both in person and on stage), Green still told me quite candidly, â€œI feel uncomfortable meeting people, to be honest. But I always have. Even as a kid.â€ I was truly impressed and touched by his candor and willingness to be so vulnerable. (Of course, hearing this itâ€™s more surprising that heâ€™s mustered the courage to even embark on this American tour.)
Others have written about the shows, but suffice it to say it was exceedingly well received by a relatively small, but demonstrative audience. Speaking with SP keyboard player, Rhodri (pronounced ROD-ree) before the show, he told me that a typical crowd at their American gigs had been around 200-300 people. As a rabid fan, this surprised me. I expected the place to be packed. According to Rhodri, Green isnâ€™t particularly concerned about headcounts. â€œOnce the show starts, he just gets into a zone,â€ Rhodri admitted. â€œHe just pretty much stares at the lyric sheets on his music stand.â€
You read that right. Green actually had one of his band members pop up to the front of the stage throughout the evening and give Green his latest lyric sheets. When Green introduced his cue card guy, he joked, â€œMaybe by the end of the tour, Iâ€™ll learn the words to my own songs.â€
The songs, by the way, were mostly from the new CD, with a couple of exceptions youâ€™ve already read about on this site, with one new â€œoldieâ€: â€œThe Word Girlâ€. (Green kept oldies to a minimum. When someone yelled out â€œAbsoluteâ€, he wryly responded, â€œAbsolutely not.â€)
Another interesting fact I learned from Rhodri: Green assembled his entire band at a pub he hangs out at home. According to Rhodri, he saw Green in that pub and walked up to him. Green then told him, â€œIâ€™m putting together a band for a tour and Iâ€™m looking for a keyboard player. Do you know any?â€ Without hesitation, Rhodri volunteered. He said Green then invited him to come listen to the new album and â€œif you like it maybe you could join the bandâ€. Rhodri jumped at the chance.
â€œIâ€™m older than the rest of the band mates, so Iâ€™m the only who even knew who Scritti Politti was,â€ Rhodri explained.. â€œOur drummer is only 21. Heâ€™s never heard of Green. But I was 14 when â€œCupid & Pyscheâ€ came out and I was a big fan.â€
Rhodri said heâ€™s having a great time seeing the United States for the first time. When asked what he thought of Americans, he said, â€œEveryone seems very nice here.â€
After the short American tour, Rhodri says Scritti Politti returns to the UK for some more shows in England. After that Green tells me, he has â€œmany projectsâ€ coming up, including a â€œreunion albumâ€ with David Gamson and, â€œhopefully Fred will join us.â€
And the sound for this new effort? â€œWeâ€™re going to get back to the funk soon,â€ he said.
Gary Bingner claims heâ€™s been a fan of Scritti Politti since â€œback in the days when I had as much hair as Green.â€ Time has obviously been kinder to Greenâ€™s hairline. Bingner is also the owner of Quasimodo Advertising in Minneapolis, MN. (quasiland.com)