On the heels of Thursday's triple-treat lineup with alt-rap superstars De La Soul, classic dub pioneers Lee "Scratch" Perry and Mad Professor are due to perform two more shows together this weekend. The duo is scheduled to appear at the Ma'abada Theater in Talpiot, Jerusalem, on Friday, December 9, and at Goldstar Zappa in Tel Aviv on Saturday December 10.
Lee "Scratch" Perry, an artist and producer recognized for his classic grooves, has earned quite a reputation for his madcap persona. He is almost as famous for discovering Bob Marley and the Wailers as he is for his wild manner of dress and strange behavior, including but not limited to walking backwards across cities and semi-sensical monologues regarding strange spiritual beings, like those from popular science fiction movies. He has a tendency to take cities, stage appearances and interviews by storm and then vanish for long periods.
Last week, on the phone with The Jerusalem Post from his home in Switzerland, Perry confirmed that his reputation is justified. He even went on to claim that he is Jesus, in what appears to be a rare case of Jerusalem Syndrome contracted prior to arrival.
Mad Professor, the dub innovator currently on tour with Perry, has written in his blog (Ariwa News) about several past appearances in Israel both with and without Perry. When he came the first time, Professor's traveling studio confused El Al security, which he claims was "convinced that a case of tape machines and sound effects were part of the enemy's plan to blow their aircraft out of the sky." Eventually he made it through, and was enthused enough about a New Years 2001 show in Tel Aviv to write: "We done a five-hour dub show, with the audience staying faithfully till the end!!! Live dub mixes of Ghetto Living, All Saints, Black Coffee and Hungarian Goulash were favorites of the night."
Perry describes his excitement about returning to Israel in a different way. He calls the concert "a special occasion" because "I, Christos, rule Israel with an iron rod."
Apparently the upcoming performances represent the fulfillment of "the eternal prophecy, the return of Nigos, the return of Christos, the return of God Almighty, the return of Allah, the return of Buddha, the return of Hare Krishna, the return of All God All-in-One and All-Combined for instance and righteousness.... I will enjoy myself in Jerusalem."
According to Perry, those who scoff at his vision will be proven wrong very soon, as he is "100% perfect.... I am the future energy to rule Israel with music, mystic magic, music ice and music vice, from the Ice Age of white magic. I am the white magic that's coming to Israel Jerusalem to conquer black magic," he explains. When asked for practical details regarding the Israel mini-tour, Perry's vision becomes slightly hazier. He wonders whether The Beastie Boys will be joining him on stage, and seems never to have heard of De La Soul. "I don't mind meeting them," he says.
Because of political and security concerns, popular musicians are often reluctant to perform here. Perry prefers not to focus on the racial divide: "One thing me know. I believe in the spirit, and I believe in man's shadow. And my shadow is black and everybody's shadow is black.... Then we know that our God must be black. Black shadow in sun, black shadow in the moon, and black shadow in the stars. And that trinity is Black Ark."
"Black Ark," the name of Perry's former home studio, now serves as a symbol for his work. Perry explains that he lived an imperfect life while producing classic reggae recordings in the Black Ark studio. Then he burned the studio down and created what he calls "theocracy government," which involved giving up meat, alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana. "I am sure that I am 100% perfect now. When you decide that you did enough, you cast it away and close that door. That means that you are born again. When we are born again and cast away the sin, we can heal our friends, heal our family and heal our enemies."
Perry's neo-pan-spiritualistic (and occasionally cinematic) vision is well rooted in his Switzerland home, where he has resided ever since he torched the Black Ark. In Switzerland, there are "no bad boys, no bad girls," and he enjoys living "in Ice Mountain, the Mountain of Doom. The one ring that was created to rule the universe was created in the Mountain of Fire by the Ice Age Extra Terrestrials."
Right - that mountain.
Perry might be nearing 70, but he shows no signs of slowing down.
"I'm Jesus Christ's grandfather, and I'm looking very strong, very fresh," he says. "my wrinkles disappear. I give up my wrinkle to Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. I am older than them and I have no wrinkles. When I tinkle my enemies get wrinkles. The people who don't believe in I, they are my enemies. When I poop, my enemies look. When I spit, my enemies split. When I fart, my enemies feel bad. And when I s**t, my enemies die."
Grooving revelers at Zappa and the Ma'abada ought to watch out, for things could be as messy as they promise to be funky.
Doors open tonight at the Ma'abada at 10 p.m., with DJ Atzmon Avrahami in the warm-up slot. Tickets are priced at NIS 109 and NIS 119. Call the Ma'abada box office at (02) 629-2000. Tomorrow night's show at the Goldstar Zappa club in Tel Aviv begins at 9 p.m., with guest vocalist Earl 16 of Leftfield adding to the Lee "Scratch" Perry/Mad Professor spectacle. Tickets are priced at 139 NIS. Call Goldstar Zappa at (03) 649-9550.