The Upsetter. Super Ape. Whatever name you choose to reference him by, Lee “Scratch” Perry is a living legend, not only to reggae, but music globally. If you listen to reggae, ska, dancehall, dub, drum n’ bass, jungle, or hip-hop (and many more for that matter) chances are Perry’s mark can be found somewhere within the fabric of the music.
Saturday night, with the aid of New York City’s masterful Subatomic Sound System, Lee “Scratch” Perry celebrated 80-years on planet earth by taking a room full of devotees on a journey that started in 1969 with The Upsetter and continues into present day. Maneuvering the stage with the ease of a man many years his junior, Perry stomped, kicked and raised his fists high, lighter in hand, glow ball bouncing, while the scent of incense poked into bananas, swirled around him. The Danforth Music Hall answered with a sea of raised lighters that shone through the smoke machine haze. For the veteran fans and new initiates alike, it was reggae gospel.
Words and photos by Dave MacIntyre