When it comes to Lee "Scratch" Perry, the past and future have always been intertwined.
So it goes without saying that the 81-year-old dub reggae icon's concert Sunday at the State Theatre included a little bit of both.
"We're gonna go back and forth, this way and that way," said Emch Schactman of Subatomic Sound System, Perry's backing DJ/band. And later: "We're getting ready to go back, back into the Black Ark. You ready to get in our time machine with us?"
The Black Ark was an epicenter of reggae innovation in the '70s, Perry's Kingston studio where he produced Bob Marley and the Wailers, among others, and essentially invented dub reggae with his own forward-thinking albums. Among them was Super Ape, the influential 1976 album that influenced the likes of the Clash and the Beastie Boys, and which he and Subatomic Sound System are celebrating on this rare tour.
With a plate of fruit and candles laid at the base of his mic stand like some sort of sacred offering, the red-bearded Perry emerged with a large plush gorilla in his arm, swaying and croaking, smoking and slapping hands with fans down front. The club filled with smoke and heady swirls of jazz, reggae, trip-hop and Perry's own eccentric, dubby vision.
— Jay Cridlin