The Double Door in Chicago: The New Green Party Headquarters.

Posted by John J. Hyde
Photography and Journalism by Gary Bingner

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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 “party with Green”. There were visitors from Canada, New York, Italy…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 “pop star”, 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 “earthy” 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.

“My god, even I don’t have one of these,” Green said to a fan who produced a rare 45 for him to sign. “But I don’t have any of this stuff.”

Green was also seemed delighted by a fan wearing a “Tinseltown to the Boogiedown” t-shirt. “I love your shirt,” he raved. “I’ve never seen one of those. Where’d you get it?” Green was also asked to sign a baseball, which appeared to intrigue him. “I’ve never seen one of these close up.” (Incidentally, his autograph consists of his first name, printed in all capital letters. GREEN.)

Despite all the 80’s memorabilia he was being asked to write on, it was obvious Green’s not big on nostalgia…especially about his own work or career. “I never read anything about me or watch anything about me,” he admitted. “It makes me uncomfortable.” When I mentioned I’d exchanged emails with David Gamson through Gamson’s website, Green said he’d never been there, claiming, “I never look at anything to do with any of us.”

Green also told me he finds it equally difficult when fans praise him. “I hated it when people said bad things about me or the work I’d done, but I also felt really uncomfortable if people said something complimentary.”

Despite seeming very outgoing and at ease with so many fans (both in person and on stage), Green still told me quite candidly, “I feel uncomfortable meeting people, to be honest. But I always have. Even as a kid.” I was truly impressed and touched by his candor and willingness to be so vulnerable. (Of course, hearing this it’s more surprising that he’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 isn’t particularly concerned about headcounts. “Once the show starts, he just gets into a zone,” Rhodri admitted. “He just pretty much stares at the lyric sheets on his music stand.”

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, “Maybe by the end of the tour, I’ll learn the words to my own songs.”

The songs, by the way, were mostly from the new CD, with a couple of exceptions you’ve already read about on this site, with one new “oldie”: “The Word Girl”. (Green kept oldies to a minimum. When someone yelled out “Absolute”, he wryly responded, “Absolutely not.”)

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, “I’m putting together a band for a tour and I’m looking for a keyboard player. Do you know any?” Without hesitation, Rhodri volunteered. He said Green then invited him to come listen to the new album and “if you like it maybe you could join the band”. Rhodri jumped at the chance.

“I’m older than the rest of the band mates, so I’m the only who even knew who Scritti Politti was,” Rhodri explained.. “Our drummer is only 21. He’s never heard of Green. But I was 14 when “Cupid & Pysche” came out and I was a big fan.”

Rhodri said he’s having a great time seeing the United States for the first time. When asked what he thought of Americans, he said, “Everyone seems very nice here.”

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 “many projects” coming up, including a “reunion album” with David Gamson and, “hopefully Fred will join us.”

And the sound for this new effort? “We’re going to get back to the funk soon,” he said.

Gary Bingner claims he’s been a fan of Scritti Politti since “back in the days when I had as much hair as Green.” Time has obviously been kinder to Green’s hairline. Bingner is also the owner of Quasimodo Advertising in Minneapolis, MN. (quasiland.com)

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