Rod Reynolds’ Roxy review + sound check pics

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Rod Reynolds & Green Gartside

Rod Reynolds has send us the following review of the Roxy gig:

Scritti Politti was one of my favorite bands in the late 80s. I was in my early 20s and was very much influenced by the music and style of bands such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, A-Ha, Japan, Adam & the Ants. The album ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ was a long-time favorite of mine, including the classic songs ‘Perfect Way,’ “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin),’ ‘Hypnotize,’ and ‘Absolute.’

The name Green Gartside doesn’t immediately get as much recognition as these other names, but his style was very much in line with what I wanted to be, and, what I could pull off. I stared at the single sleeve for ‘Wood Beez’ while I was getting dressed to go out clubbing, and Green was the first man I knew of that had both ears pierced, prompting me to do the same.

Twenty years later, summer of 2006, I heard Scritti Politti had a new album out in the UK, so ordered it immediately. ‘White Bread Black Beer’ arrived and I was completely surprised at how good it is. Surprised because how many artists can still put out a great album more than twenty years into their career? (A-Ha’s last couple albums have been spectacular.) ‘White Bread Black Beer’ is both instantly likable and inherently listenable, and has been in heavy rotation on my iPod over the last few months. It has also recently been released in the US on the Nonesuch label.

Imagine my surprise and delight when the Roxy in Hollywood announced that Scritti Politti would be playing their first ever North American concert there, a few days before Halloween. Armed with my ‘Cupid & Psyche’ LP, my ‘Perfect Way’ 12″ single (my all time favorite SP song) and four cds, I arrived at the venue at 4pm and saw Green and his band about to go in for set up and rehearsal. There were only two other fans there, two guys who had driven down from San Francisco to see the show.

Green was talking with us for quite a while, and then he invited us in to watch the sound check. While the band was setting up the equipment, Green talked with the three of us for quite some time, signed our records and cd sleeves, and posed for pictures with us. He even took pictures of us with his own camera!

I had heard, or possibly only assumed that Green was very shy (I had heard that the reason he never played live was because of stage fright) and I never expected that he would be so friendly and unassuming. He asked questions about us and seemed genuinely interested in these three die hard fans. He told us some stories about other times he had been in LA, working with Wendy Melvoin (of Wendy and Lisa/Prince and the Revolution) and remembered that he needed to call her and invite her to the show. He pulled out his cel phone and dialed her up (and left a message). He also said that David Gamson was coming to the show.

I told Green that I used to dress and do my hair like him (which he apologized for, laughing), and I gave him my website address, where you can see the evidence.

Meanwhile, he was running around trying to pull the show together. He borrowed my sharpie to autograph some posters that they sold at the show. He said he was considering shaving off his beard for the show, but he either changed his mind or didn’t have time, because it was still there later. The band was having a hard time getting all their equipment to work, and in fact during the show (later) there would be a handful of technical difficulties. Not that anyone minded.

The two opening bands arrived and had their equipment on the floor on front of the stage, but Scritti Politti’s sound check took all the time available, right up to about ten minutes before the doors opened at 8pm. They didn’t have time to do all the checks they wanted to, but it sounded fine. They did a few snippets of some familiar songs and ran through the entire ‘Boom Boom Bap’ from the new album, which sounded amazing.

By that time, we had been there for four hours, and I had to go home and change and get back in time for their spot which was at 10:15. I thought, there is no way they will be able to have two bands play and be done in two hours, but I arrived back at the Roxy at 10pm and the second band was just finishing up.

Then Scritti Politti came on and the fans went wild. Green didn’t seem to be nervous at all, his low key mindset from earlier that day prevailed. They played twenty songs, mostly from the new album, plus a few older songs and a couple that I didn’t know. But they all sounded great. Even when the synth wouldn’t work for ‘Wood Beez,’ they did an impromptu acoustic version which sounded just wonderful. All the songs were done well, Green was very self-effacing and playful with his introductions, several times admitting he didn¹t know if they could play them, and always with a lyric sheet in front of him. Still, his charming personality carried the show and there were no complaints from the enthusiastic crowd. His honey-sweet voice is amazing, and he looks great. The show was a complete success. My favorites were “Boom Boom Bap,” ‘Dr Abernathy,’ and “Brushed With Oil,” and the ethereal harmonies on ‘Mrs Hughes’ were a highlight.

I managed to sneak a few pictures at the sound check; I was trying to be low key and not make anyone nervous so I didn’t use the flash or get too close. I also took a few pictures at the show, again I was trying not to annoy anyone on stage, so I didn’t take as many as I would have liked, and most without the flash so there is some blur. Let’s call it an ‘artistic motion capture’. LOL.

Pictures are here, including sound check, concert, me with Green and what he signed for me.

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