Original members of The Pop Group, vocalist Mark Stewart and guitarist Gareth Sager, were joined by Dub DJ and band producer Dennis Bovell and manager Dick ‘O’ Dell for an evening of “assemblage, provocations and auto-destructive sound art” in celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary, marked by the reissue of their debut studio album, ‘Y’, which has been released as a ‘Definitive Edition’ on Mute records, featuring remastered and half-speed tracks.

The evening was split up into sections with “Disco” Dick ‘O’ Dell beginning by relating his experiences as manager of The Pop Group when they produced their debut album. He talked about recording the album, early gigs and audience reception, as well as subsequent touring with The Slits whom he co-managed, closing on a funny story of how Ari Up chased a train guard down a train while the bands were travelling across Europe, removing Dell’s ‘managerial disguise’ to reveal her dreads and a tutu.

This was then followed by a unique live set by The Pop Group, Sager on keyboards and guitar and Stewart on vocals, performing excerpts of the reissued tracks from ‘Y’, including ‘Blood Money and ‘Savage Sea’.

After a short interlude with the Hi-Fi twins, they made way for a dub masterclass with Dennis Bovell, who live mixed two unique versions of the band’s first single ‘She Is Beyond Good & Evil’, and its backwards B-side, ‘3.38’. Stewart ended by stating the band would be playing full 40th anniversary shows next year.

01/11/19: The Pop Group @ Rough Trade East, London.

Photos © Ayisha Khan.

© Ayisha Khan