Lee “Scratch” Perry – May 25th – Cervantes’ Ballroom

Photos by Danielle Meyer

The Scene: Reggae and Dub fans of all ages united at Cervantes’ last Friday night to witness the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry. Unfortunately the audience will have to be content having seen one of the innovators of dub as opposed to having seen a great performance. I arrived to the show around 10pm to a surprisingly thin crowd. Those that had arrived early were checking out the vendors selling tie-dyed shirts, Bob Marley posters, and various sized drums which gave Cervantes’ Main Ballroom a festival like atmosphere. As the crowd began to fill in I noticed how diverse reggae fans could be. There were young hipsters in skinny jeans, aging hippies in aged Grateful Dead tees, and middle aged men in polo’s and slacks who looked like they just walked off the golf course.

Opener: Tatanka. Those who arrived early were lucky to catch a great set by Denver based trio Tatanka. The reggae progressive band quickly got the crowd’s attention with an electronica dance beat and Sublime style sound that had everyone’s head bobbing. The question wasn’t weather you were going to dance but when, and by the end of their set the majority of the crowd had succumbed to the music. Cervantes has a great lighting system and Tatanka took full advantage of it with a killer light show. In my opinion it was the highlight of the evening.

Opener: Rudie Clash. The Fort Collins reggae dub band Rudie Clash took the stage around 11pm to a pumped up crowd. Self-proclaimed as “the ugliest music in the Front Range” they tore through a highly energized set that kept the crowd engaged. Rudie Clash did a nice job hyping Lee “Scratch” Perry as the crowd continued to build.

Lee “Scratch” Perry:  Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, aka The Upsetter, carries with him a long resume and list of contributions to Reggae and Dub music.  Hip-Hop, Jungle, Techno, and House have all been influenced by the Dub sound that Lee pioneered in the 60s. He has produced records for legendary Reggae bands like Bob Marley and the Wailers and The Heptones. At seventy six years old he is still going strong, turning out a new album almost every year, and continuing to tour.

Before Perry hit the stage Subatomic Sound System enlightened the crowd with some remixes of old Perry hits from the late 60s and early 70s. With two great opening acts and the hour getting late, the crowd seemed somewhat lackluster as Perry and his band took the stage around 12:45am.

Unfortunately the most entertaining thing about the set was not the music but his outfit. Perry was bedazzled in a homemade hat that featured an oversized Superman button and a mini disco ball on the brim. His faded Indianapolis tank top, mismatched rainbow colored tights, and Winter boots completed the eccentric look.

Sadly the set was mostly incomprehensible and the songs all seemed to run together. On several occasions Perry stopped the band in the middle of a song to talk to the crowd but even he seemed like he wasn’t sure what he was going to say next. The crowd slowly lost interest and headed toward the exits, hopefully content with the fact that they can say they saw a legend in person.

Energy: C
Sound: B
Musicianship: B
Stage Presence: D
Set/Light Show: C+

Overall: C+