Scritti Politti 22.9.2021 Birmingham Town Hall

Town Hall Birmingham – opened 1834

Birmingham Town Hall

The Cupid and Psyche tour

Bit of a jaunt this one but I’ve never seen Scritti Politti and it’s a tour focused on an album I associate with my years in Birmingham – Cupid & Psyche. The venue is a draw in itself: a stunning Grade two listed building completed in 1834 and looking like something out of ancient Greece rather than in a square at the top of New Street, Birmingham.

Is that the queue for the Town Hall?

We emerged from the pre-gig refreshements at Purecraft Bar and Kitchen (a full range of Pure Ubu beer) – here with gig buddy Dave – across Victoria Square to see what we thought was a queue to get in. Pace quickened only to realise this crowd outside was just a black metal sculpture called Forward Together🤯

Instead, a civilised trickle into this beautiful building and down to the basement bar for a pint of pretty decent IPA.

It was worth a mooch around beforehand to see some pictures noting some of the old big names that have played here – Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

Hall of Fame display in the basement bar
Buddy Holly graces the Town Hall
..even Bill Haley played here

One of the first performers on the Town Hall stage was no less than Charles Dickens in 1834, reading from his works – I wonder what the merch stand was like then eh. I bet loads of people claimed to be those early Dickens gigs.

From 1918 to 1991 this was the home of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before they moved to the grand new symphony hall just up the road (or across a few large impressive squares).

Well I’ve only been here once before… to see The Fall, supported by Caberet Voltaire, and The Wendys (19.11.1992).

Stage times on a marble pillar

In we go. Front row, to the right. Very handy. Great view. The high ceiling and walls finished with the refurbished detail of a palace. The huge organ I remembered The Fall playing in front of is nearly covered in blackout curtain.

Look at that ceiling

Ah.. a Support Act

Remember before Covid when there were support acts? Well there’s one tonight. Since July’s opening up, the support band idea seems to have taken a hit – more risk of infection and not enough benefits to outweigh the risk I guess.

It’s Alexis Taylor, from noughties band Hot Chip to open. We are peering over the front of the stage, so a great view of what was going albeit at the bands feet level.

It’s a short set of singing, guitar and piano to warm the place up. Extraordinary outfit of matching tropical pattern top and trousers with matching baseball hat, all tamed a little with a covering bright white pin striped jacket 😳

Alexis Taylor – support act tonight

He introduces one song as by Prefab Sprout: Wild Horses. My ears prick up for a bit.

Scritti Politti

Out come Scritti Politti to the roomy stage. They are essentially original frontman, Welshman, Green Gartside from the 1977 line up, when they started out in Leeds, with a newer band: Dicky Moore (guitar), Rob Smoughton (drums) and Rhodri Marsden on the all important keyboards for this 80s sound.

The spacious Town Hall stage

They start with just about the best: Sweetest Girl, from the Songs to Remember album. (Here’s a 2001 remastered version.) Then a wander through a selection  from other albums, five more tracks not on the one featured tonight: Cupid and Psyche. Oh Patti (the lover boy one) the best of these but for the record including A Day Late a Dollar Short; The Boom Boom Bap; Skank Bloc Bologna and Trentavious White.

Green Gartside

Green’s voice is still fantastic – disintinctively breathy and high – and he forces his head up and squeezes out the highest notes. Now with a grey beard he could not look less 80s…this is all about the songs and the voice coming back out of the box, not dressing up clothes and make-up.

Rhodri Marsden – keyboards

..and on to the main focus: the 1985 second album Cupid and Psyche, played in full and as it transpires in order. It’s a cracker – not a bad track on it. As Green introduces it “for the first time ever” played live in full conceding, “well ok the second time if you count Norwich last night”.


At the appropriate point Green asks everyone to just imagine the crackle of the vinyl as we get to the end of side one and turn over for track one side two: Perfect Way. Next Lover to Fall which Green observes is the most 80s sounding of the whole album, with the opening synth. (YouTube: Lover to Fall)

And it’s soon nearing the end with perhaps the best from this album, Wood Beez (the Aretha Franklin one..not Beez Neez as I keep calling it!), mimed here beautifully on Top of the Pops. The seated crowd started to get up and dance. Just one more left from the album and they leave the stage to return for a one song encore.

Encore with Alexis Taylor

They return with Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip to play At Last I am Free, a Chic song, something of an anti-climax given what has gone before. Sweetest Girl to finish would have done the job… but we got that to start us off so hey ho.

‘At Last I am Free’ to finish

A great opportunity to see a wonderful album performed in its entirety in a beautiful old building, where Charles Dickens once appeared.

Green Gartside

Published by ivaninblack

Still wild about live music - bands - gigs - festivals - after 42 years at it. All photos have been snapped by me or I will point out otherwise - I'll even own up to any blurry mobile phone ones. If gigaholic is a phrase then in recent years I think I've become one.

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  1. Hot Chip a noughties band! Just headlined End Of The Road Festival mate 🙂

    As for that encore, they all try to replicate Robert Wyatt’s version. A fantastic performance on record. Agree though that I have seen bands try to do this life and miss something.


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