I never really liked poetry at school. The thing is, as with any art form, you’ve got to start with the classics. But the language used, whilst beautiful, is often incomprehensible to our modern ears. Dante and Goethe didn’t mean a whole lot to me in year 8, so I wrote the whole thing off as bollocks. It was only when I heard the poetry of Scroobius PIP, written in my own language that the spoken word world opened up for me. Scroobius takes his name from an Edward Lear poem of the same title about an unidentifiable animal, and thus it is with his music: “It doesn’t fit into a category and can just be its own creature.” Poetry is a form that uses aesthetic and rhythmic devices in order to convey its message, therefore you only really get the full impact when you hear it live. So when I was offered the the opportunity to see Dan le Sac vs Scroobius PIP I simply couldn’t say no. Although it was my 6th Scroobius gig, the bearded master of poetry and stage always leaves you wanting more.
Infiltrating the Leeds University Students’ Union I felt somewhat a traitor to our dear old York. But nonetheless the place was huge, boasting a supermarket, hairdressers and an enormous sound system. The warm-up artist Itch set the scene for the night to come. With unrelenting and somewhat intrusive basslines, Itch blasted their “revolutionary” manifesto against the state of the world, delivering a heady mixture of hard-hitting rap, insane guitar riffs and outrageous amount of fury: “London is burning. Burn motherfucker, burn motherfucker, burn.” The power of such profanities was hammered home by the intense front man who, if not a chip on his shoulder, definitely had something to get off his chest. Although not entirely my cup of tea they certainly whipped the crowd into a frenzy of excitement and left us ready to welcome the main event of the evening.
With his iconic look, landmark track ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ and the beats of Dan le Sac, Scroobius has worked his way into both the music industry and my heart with relative ease for a spoken word artist. The gig was a far cry from his humble Essex beginnings performing without music in pubs throughout the country.
The Union was packed and the crowd surged forward as soon as the glitchy industrial start of ‘The Beat That My Heart Skipped’ kicked in. They performed a number of songs of the latest savage album Repent Replenish Repeat. The darkest track of the album ‘Porter’ rendered the audience silent and captivated as we ventured into the life of a mental asylum worker, whilst ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ brought about the opposite – the inevitable mosh. “Fuck stiff upper lip; pick up a brick. And if the crime fits, do something with it”. An aggressive clash of bodies, all of which had a smile on their face, singing ‘Get Better’ to their heart’s content.
Scroobius masterfully held the audience with his 6”6’ stature, a beard proud enough to demasculate the most vehement of geezers, and maverick articulacy that powers throughout the entirety of the performance. The encore was by the far my most euphoric experience with Pip to date. Beginning with ‘Introdiction’ from his solo album, a song which includes the line “You see a mousetrap… I see free cheese and a fucking challenge” immediately followed by ‘Letter from God to Man’ and a 10 minute Dan le Sac freak out. All of which culminated in me falling asleep on the train.
Beg, borrow or steal. Watch this duo. I promise you won’t regret it.
“Scroobius P-I-P, till I D-I-E.” – Scroobius P.I.P