3 August – I still remember the first time I saw Scritti Politti. It was at the Futurama Festival in 1979 and they were awful, instantly promoting themselves in to the top three worst bands I had ever seen (incidentally the others were Soft Machine and Fuzzy Duck).
In 1981 I saved up my tokens from the NME and sent for a copy of their C-81 tape. The opening track was ‘The “Sweetest Girl” by Scritti Politti and on playing it I was taken completely by surprise! The tuneless feedback drenched dirges I’d heard two years before had been replaced by a tune of effortless beauty. Of course, I instantly assumed that the track listing was wrong but in fact the band had reinvented themselves. After that I didn’t pay them much attention other than hearing their singles on the radio and seeing them on the occasional TV show.
When Brian suggested that we go see their first Leeds date in some years I agreed. Thankfully they were immeasurably better than they were in 1979! My highlights were the songs I recognised: The Word Girl; Skank Bloc Bologna; Wood Beez and Absolute. And The “Sweetest Girl” is still the best thing they’ve ever done!
Setlist: The “Sweetest Girl”; Snow in Sun; Day Late and a Dollar Short; Die Alone; The Word Girl (Flesh and Blood); Umm; The Boom Boom Bap; Jacques Derrida / Come Clean; Dr. Abernathy; Slow Deceit; Brushed With Oil, Dusted With Powder; Skank Bloc Bologna; Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin); Absolute.
30 August – It’s my pre birthday treat to myself – Midlake at the Brudenell Social Club. They’ve been one of my favourite American bands for around two year, and their CD The Trials Of Van Occupanther is easily in my top 100 albums of all time, so the chance to see them again but this time in the intimate setting of a 400 capacity venue is irresistible.
They were superb! They have fine musicians and excellent songs but what puts them up a league is their brilliant rhythm section, driving every song inexorably on. Bonus points for the best use of flutes in rock. They played four new songs and everything else you’d hope they could fit in to a 70 minute set, especially my favourite Roscoe.
The downside was that there were a few too many talkers in, although I suspect some of them have never been near the Brudenell before. Still they didn’t interfere with my enjoyment.