The Camden Centre, June 18th, 2015
Now that was a gig! The main gig of our season of events. Though we say it ourselves the best line up of the year… if not longer.
Forthright poetry that wasn’t afraid to be saying something.
Mark Thomas more than capably hosted and ensured everyone kept to time – which was no mean feat.
First up was Teething Wells with one of his rants from 1981 and then a current attack on gentrification. Plenty to be angry about.
Little Dave took the stage next, for the first time in decades. It was great to see some of the old ranters, seasoned turns like John Cooper Clarke and LKJ as well as poets at the start of their career such as Emily Harrison all on stage and all on target.
Ginger John took the stage next and took it like it was a Normandy beach. Charming, funny, and deft as ever… seeing him back on stage has been one of my highlights from Stand Up and Spit.
Janine Booth did an incendiary set and her the audience were with her, joining in with ‘Mostly Hating Tories’.
Ranting centre-forward Attila the Stockbroker showed just why he’s not stopped gigging. By now everyone knew this was a unique gig. Attila’s performance was as punchy as you’d expect. He even had several of the audience in tears, the atmosphere was that good. He read one of Seething Wells’ poems Roger. That was a lovely moment.
John Hegley took the John Hegley spot and calmed the pace as only he can.
Ending the first half was Linton Kwesi Johnson. Linton read a couple of poems, his second was his reflction on the 1981 riots that swept the country: The Great Insurrection. Like all the poets the relevance of the poetry leapt into the air. Linton’s third poem was a highspot of the night, a highspot of all the live poetry I’ve ever seen come to that. He read Michael Smith’s Mi Cyaan Believe It. The room hushed as those that knew the poem soaked it up and the younger people were carried along with Michael’s words and the power of Linton’s delivery.
Next was a short interval for drinks, credit to the Class War contingent whose table at the end of the night had the highest tally of empty beer bottles. Poets old and young mingled, ‘zines did the rounds and people caught their breath. Great to see poets like Clare Pollard in the audience, spoken word is in such a healthy state it’s a good time to look at, and enjoy, it’s history.
Emily Harrison, fast building a reputation for one of the best young poets reading at the moment, commenced the first half and showed that the angry and funny style of ranting has been passed on.
Joolz took the stage next and as Porky the Poet said “Joolz was her usual spellbinding mix of hilarious and harrowing, (as a poet she’s the closest thing you’ll get to watching ‘Goodfellas’).”
John Cooper Clarke raised the roof. Quite rightly a national treasure and a bloke who’s poetry, and life, is a testament to being original, witty and (mostly) decent.
Porky the Poet was last on and was his usual genial and generous self. Like all the poets he took aim at our wretched government, and did so with humour.
“We did all the ranting, to stop things happening, and it’s got worse.”
Stepping out from the gig we moved from a space where people were positive, having fun, fighting back to pavements where people were grey and worried.
We need our ranters.
The gig was all and more that we’d wanted: top drawer poets, an enthusiastic audience, old friends, new friends, great poetry and a valuable look back at ranting poetry that clearly resonated with what’s going on today.
There’s a review at Write Out Loud