In a living room ambiance, Scritti Politti gave their first concert in four years at ‘The Victoria’, a pub in Hackney, East London – a charming venue that can host approximately 150 people.
The audience who were lucky enough to secure of a ticket were treated by Green Gartside, the singer-songwriter and sole constant member of the band, as his guests. In between the songs, he provided them with minced pies he bought at Sainsbury, two bottles of an exotic cocktail, made by his wife, and even two parcels of books as though it was Christmas time.
It was Gartside’s wish to host a low-key event. He succeeded as he created an informal setting in which he shared short stories and amusing anecdotes about the Scritti songs as to when and where he wrote them.
Gartisde, who sang and played guitar, was accompanied on stage by another guitarist, a keyboard player and a drummer, who performed with them live for the first time. They opened with ‘The Sweetest Girl’, a laid-back, mellow Reggae song. Green’s sweet, melancholic and sensual voice immediately filled the room. After the song Gartside shared with his guests that he wrote the song, not originally for himself but, for Gregory Iscaacs, the Jamaican Reggae musician on vocals and Kraftwerk. He sent out the tapes to them but received a response from neither. When he met Kraftwerk five years later, in New York, he asked the German band members if they had received the tape and heard the song. They told him they did and added: “But we hate Reggae”.
The set list was a mixture of old songs, hit singles and new material, including a pulsating ‘Skank Bloc Bologna’ from the early days that hadn’t lost its raw, edgy power and immediacy. Other songs performed were ‘Day Late & A Dollar Short’, a new track from the ‘Best of’ ‘Absolute’ album, unreleased tracks with the working title ‘Slow Deceit’ and white funk synth pop songs from Scritti Politti’s most successful 1980s period ‘The Word Girl’, ‘Absolute’ and ‘Wood Beez’.
The performance of the latter didn’t initially work to script when the click in the drummer’s ear failed and the song had to be aborted – this is because the click aids the drummer and the band to keep time. In keeping with the whole atmosphere of the evening it was resolved in a relaxed manner, with humour; setting that aside, no-one in the room considered it to be a punishment to hear the exhilarating intro of the song being repeated. 
Written by Thierry Somers