It’s not every day you get to see a band who epitomises a whole generation of music, but SCRITTI POLITTI is one of those such bands.
On a chilly December night, Manchester piles into the Ritz, though not to its full capacity. Woops and applause indicate that Scritti Politti fans are in the house, as Green arrives onstage in full check shirt attire, distinctive 80s floppy locks replaced by furry beard and short hair. A cold does not affect his stunning vocals, as he opens with old favourite “The Sweetest Girl.” He moves on to “Day Late and a Dollar Short” which he wrote in LA at the beginning of the global credit crunch. By the time we get to “The Word Girl,” the band has the audience in its grip, and “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)” and “Absolute” get the die-hard fans bouncing around in the front rows, and the synth-funk sounds are blisteringly hot. It’s been a nicely balanced set, with newer tracks scattered among the classic chart winners.
What is impressive about Scritti Politti is not only the killer tracks and smooth overlapping of musical genres, but the real pleasure of seeing such a tight band perform with such a relaxed air, exuding years of experience of technical development.
After such a fantastic show, what ensued was nothing less than disappointing. Following a long wait, headliners SAINT ETIENNE turned the venue into a club mostly full of middle-aged beered up men chanting lyrics. Although certainly impressed seeing so many devoted fans in love with the sparkly one-piece dress and boa-adorned lead singer Sarah Cracknell, it was difficult not to be distracted by the clumsy dance moves and damp vocals. With Cracknell struggling to think of anything else to say between songs other than Christmas-related comments, which started to get tired very quickly, it began to feel more and more like a busy night down at the local karaoke pub or a football match, which is fine if that’s what you are looking for in a gig. New track “Tonight” is brilliant and sounds amazing recorded – but throughout the night, the harmonies sounded off if you were standing in the front rows, though this was admittedly less obvious with the banging electronics and towards the back of the venue. It can’t be denied that Saint Etienne brought some welcome light entertainment to the Ritz and are great recorded, but I couldn’t help missing Green and his team, and left the show early, having had enough of the lagered-up atmosphere and Cracknell’s crucifixion of Chris Rea’s “Driving Home For Christmas.”