The Commodore Ballroom was full of anticipation for a Dub and Reggae legend to hit the stage. Not only was it the first show of their 2018 tour across North America, but also the first playthrough of ‘Blackboard Jungle Dub’ which was released 45 years ago. During the initial release in 1973, it had only been pressed to 300 vinyl copies and exclusively in Jamaica. The record has been declared as one of the first ‘Dub’ albums. To perform such a pivotal album, it was essential to have one of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s most famous backing bands, Subatomic Sound System, alongside him. The trio is made up of a saxophone player Troy Simms, percussionist Larry McDonald and electronic DJ Emch.
The lights went out and the crowd cheered as DJ Emch walked on stage to his podium where a single light shone down on his equipment and started a smooth Dub electronic mix to get the fans swaying. Eventually, he was joined by the other two members of Subatomic, who “thickened” the mix with their instrumentation. After a few songs, it was time for DJ Emch to acknowledge the audience and what they had all been waiting for. However, before Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry could come on stage, a small plate of fruit and incense were placed at the front of the stage, to mark where his presence will be made.
The 82-year-old Dub veteran made his way to the front of the stage with his brightly coloured outfit and a backpack full of tricks. The crowd went wild as he stood without saying a single word. As the space like electronica beat started, he lit up and moved across the stage, engaging in high fives and fist bumps with the fans in the front row. This engagement with the audience grew stronger throughout the set with people swaying along with him, pushing up in the air and igniting lighters as he lit his spliff. With over 60 musical releases under his belt, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry can take it right back to the start of his career and still have people following his unique sound that has influenced many artists to this day.
PHOTOS © LUKAS HOLT // HOLT PRODUCTIONS