Many of the New Variety acts, there were always poets on the bill, supporting the GLC which was fighting to remain after Thatcher decided the best way to shatter it’s left wing influence was to abolish. The NME, 24 March, 1985 reviews.
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.