Scritti Politti to head back to Leeds roots to play Cupid & Psyche 85 at City Varieties

Scritti Politti’s poster for next year’s 35th anniversary celebration of Cupid & Psyche (albeit in its 36th year)

SCRITTI Politti are to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Cupid & Psyche 85 by performing the gilded album in its entirety for the very first time next autumn.

Among the nine dates will be September 28 2021 at the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds, the city where Welshman Green Gartside first formed his agit-pop band in 1977 while studying at Leeds Polytechnic. Tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday (4/12/2020) at

Released on June 10 1985, the immaculate, technologically complex Cupid & Psyche is described today by Gartside, 65, as “pyrotechnics of pointillist syncopation”.

Overseen by legendary Turkish-American producer Arif Mardin (1932-2006) and featuring myriad New York session musicians, the album spawned five singles, all hits on one side of the Atlantic or the other: Wood Beez, The Word Girl, Absolute, Perfect Way and Hypnotize.

After witnessing a show by The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Heartbreakers in 1976, Green Gartside – real name Paul Julian Strohmeyer – felt as if he had been “given permission” to form a band. 

Scritti Politti gradually took shape as a squat-dwelling Camden collective who produced what Cardiff-born Gartside called “scratchy-collapsy” music, all tumbling drums, tinny guitars and breathless vocals.

After releasing a clutch of singles and EPs, most notably The Sweetest Girl, later covered by Madness, Scritti underwent a tectonic shift, inspired by black American R&B pop of the early 1980s.  “Just fantastic, liberating music…a sort of epiphany,” Gartside recalls.

Geoff Travis, at Rough Trade, introduced him to keyboard wizard David Gamson and drummer Fred Maher, whereupon this new configuration of Scritti began work on what would become Cupid & Psyche 85.

“The Scritti of Fred, David and I never did play live,” says Gartside. “We had a tour lined up and we kinda reluctantly went into a rehearsal place somewhere in Manhattan to figure out how the **** this album could be played. If I recall correctly, it became apparent immediately that we couldn’t reproduce the sound. The project was abandoned.”

Now, however, that project has been revitalised by the new-variant Scritti Politti, featuring Robert Smoughton, Rhodri Marsden and Dicky Moore, who have played alongside Gartside for the past decade.

Next autumn’s shows will complement Cupid & Psyche 85 with material from across Scritti Politti’s history, taking in 1987’s Provision, 1999’s Anomie And Bonhomie and 2006’s Mercury Prize-nominated White Bread Black Beer.