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Lee Perry in Rome

Lee Perry in Rome

Lee Perry in Rome

Lee Perry performed in Rome on the 18th of January.

There was a crisp breeze on my face, not too cold in this strange January’s winter. I had just left the club and my cheeks are still hot, in my ears still the lovely sounds of the bass from the speakers. I started to record my impressions while I was walking home through the streets of Rome like a modern Jep Gambardella, in a starry and silent night, finding for allies my thoughts and observations of a wandering writer. I walked along the Piramide Cestia, back to her original brilliancy after an excellent restauration, that gave her back all her beauty and majesty. Lee “Scratch” Perry was probably going back to his hotel room now, tired after his performance from tonight at the Rising Love. At nearly 80 years old he showed a young and enjoyable attitude, in perfect harmony with all his life, a mix of genius and madness. Rome had the pleasure to see a true piece of the history of Jamaican music, a huge creator and experimentar of sounds and samplings, that made him one of the main masters of dub.
I left the Piramide behind and I carry on walking along the Atheist Cemetery, where famous artists like atheist poets and writers have found a place where to spend their eternal sleep in peace. Between all of them I remember the phrase on the grave of John Keats “Here lives someone whose name is been printed on water”. I walked towards the area of Testaccio and lifting my eyes up, I admired the profile of the Monte dei Cocci, the hill born during the romans times, after being covered with land, with the thousands and thousands of left-overs of crockery in shatters accumulated around the river.

Lee Perry in RomeBefore the concert, the great Alberto Castelli delighted the audience with one of his famous historic readings, talking about Lee Perry during the golden years of reggae, with his precise and detailed style but always of an incurable romantic. I reached the Tevere which I overstep on the Testaccio bridge, I thought about the last scene of the movie Accattone, a neorealistic masterpiece of Pier Paolo Pasolini, a nostalgic Rome that doesn’t exist anymore, only in our granparents memories and pictures.

Lee “Scratch” Perry arrived on stage at a perfect time for a Sunday night, the formula aperitivo and concert was liked a lot, thanks to Rising Love who didn’t show any difficulties in the search of new solutions and always various in the choices and fulfills the requirements of the musical events. The great jamaican artist arrived with his faithful personalised hat, impossible to count the badges and small objects on it, also a glass ball found it’s place on the visor. I wonderred if Perry, when he is in his dressing room, will ask it about his future. His entire clothing was an art work, from the jacket to the shoes, going from the necklaces to the many rings on his hands, everything showed his personal touch, whatever it was a patch or a broach. Just like his clothes, also his life has been an art work, written and carved day after day, in his records, in his productions, or in his concerts. He joked with the audience while squeezing their hands and lights up the fire of the lighters, like the fire that always burns in his heart, tireless like the hungry tiger on the back of his jacket, it’s like a warning to those who think of him as tired man who’s saturated of life or new experiences. A man still full of desire to do and experiment.

Supported at the controls by the amazing Dj Noel, donating a show of an hour and half, changing from his dub and roots productions to the many albums produced by him in the half century of his career. The stage is low and we have the fortune to see him straight in his eyes, those eyes are still the eyes of a tiger, and the eyes of someone who saw and did everything in his life. His face showed the signs of the times, each corner could tell a story.

At the end he saluted the audience and came back to sing his version of Chase the Devil, before he collected the cheering from the entire audience so grateful and lucky to lived this special event.

I’ve nearly reached home, the view of Rome by night from the Gianicolo is the perfetct final post card for this evening. In the head the memories of a passed party with good friends and good music. In my thoughts, the hungry eyes of Lee Perry, the happy eyes of the audience and the eyes of the girls of the Rising Love’s crew, were impeccable like always. I remembered Mr Perry’s top, like a sort of starry sky, I look up in the sky searching for Orion or Cassiopea.

I can’t find them although there aren’t clouds in the sky, maybe it’s time to go to sleep. I get into my house and I switched off the voice recorder...


Reproduction without permission of United Reggae and Francesco "Versoescondido" Iampieri is prohibited.

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