Before stand up comedy forced a divorce it was usually to be found with it’s hand on the knee of poetry at alternative cabaret gigs. This review of a fairly typical gig is from Trax, number 2, 18 – 24 February, 1981.
In February 1985 a ton, 16 tons if you will, of acts booked by Apples and Snakes, Alternative Arts, Cast New Variety, and Ragged Trousered Cabaret picketed Neasden power station. Several stages were set up outside to prevent the entry of coal lorries. Without coal Neasden couldn’t function. The lorries were back the next day but a message was sent that the cultural community and its audience supported the miners.
An outstanding, and typical, bill from the ‘alternative cabaret’ promoters. They’d usually have a poet (often a ranter), a comedian, a musician and a ‘weird turn’ on the bill.
This bill from NME, 31 March, 1984 has some top drawer names: Pauline Melville, Benjamin Zephaniah, Mark Miwurdz, Billy Bragg, Matumbi, The Popticians (John Hegley’s band), Left Wing Teds and many more.
International Times, March 1st 1978
IT was a hangover from hippydom, but both Pauline Melville and Adrian Mitchell gigged with ranters and had some edge.
The last time I saw Adrian Mitchell I was reading before him at Latitude and we were both backstage checking our poems. He asked if I had any rituals to calm nerves. “I just check my flies,” I told him, and asked ‘You?’.
He took out his false teeth and then stuck them in firmly, ‘Always good to be sure’ he said and laughed.
He was several generations before ranting but had a great love of poetry, especially when it had some heart and connected with working people.