Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

John Cooper Clarke Sage Gateshead 30 April 2022

COOPER TIXWent to see an old friend the other night. John Cooper Clarke. He of punkish poetry and 1970s Manchester fame. Laura and Dale came too. Have had the pleasure of his company many times. Since the late 1970s. Cool he was then. And now. The MC for the evening was a Cockney guy. He was clearly of the punk ilk; very coolish too. The support act was another poet. Mike Garry. From the Manchester area. Long hairish, also quite punkish. Recited from his book. Does readings in schools, prisons, with communities and internationally. Clever use of voice and rhythm. Cool guy. Strange to see the Sage stage with only a mic stand in the centre. No gear. Very minimalist. Soon a short interval came upon us. Time for a pint of Newcastle Brown. Brown dog.

COOPER 2“John Cooper Clarke, also known as the Bard of Salford, is a phenomenon: Poet Laureate of Punk, rock star, fashion icon, TV and radio presenter, social and cultural commentator – he’s one of Britain’s most beloved and influential writers and performers.” (From the man’s website).

Then our man cometh. Joined the pleasantly full hall. Full of devotees. And cool he was. As ever. Cool hair. Cool cap. Cool black jeans. Cool jacket. Matched cap. Coolest of all: winklepicker, Cuban heel, Chelsea boots. Like mine. Mine don’t fit me anymore. Sad. Lots of poetry filled the hall. Very funny. Quick pace. Fast rhythm. Almost rap. Manchester twang. Carer Jan laughed a lot. Crowd knew and loved him. Hung on to every word. Very clever words. Read a lot from new book. Finished with some familiar ones: “Beasley Street”; “Evidently Chickentown” (lots of swearing: excellent); “T**t”. Great show Dr John. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your company. Thank you for your wisdom. Through your words we see you and understand you.COOPER CLARKE 1

Thanks to Jan: photographer for the evening. Thanks to Chris: put to bedder for the evening. Poetry rhythm resounding through my head.

Setlist (something along these lines): Hire Car; Get Back On Drugs You Fat F***; The Luckiest Guy Alive; Bedblocker Blues; She’s got a metal plate in her head; Beasley Street; Beasley Boulevard; Pies; I’ve Fallen In Love With My Wife; Evidently Chickentown.

Encore: Tw**; I Wanna Be Yours

The 34th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert Virtual Edition 17 Feb 2021

TibetHouse_Announce_1200x1800So once again, I ventured into the virtual world of live streaming. This tempting event was to celebrate the 34th birthday of Tibet House in New York. Unknown to me, there is an event every year to mark the birthday of the opening of Tibet House, largely orchestrated by Philip Glass and often featuring artists who I admire, such as Patti Smith in particular. So, when I read the streaming included Iggy Pop, Philip Glass, Patti Smith and none other than the Dalai Lama himself, I could not resist buying a ticket for virtual attendance.

“Tibet House US was founded at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who at the inauguration in 1987 stated his wish for a long-term cultural institution to ensure the survival of Tibetan civilization and culture, whatever the political destiny of the six million people of Tibet itself.”

dali lama tibet“I feel that Tibetan culture with its unique heritage –born of the efforts of many human beings of good spirit, of its contacts with Mongolian, Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and Persian culture, and of its natural environment – has developed a kind of energy which is very helpful for cultivating peace of mind and a joyful life. I feel that there is a potential for Tibet to help humanity, and particularly our Eastern neighbour, where millions of young Chinese have lost their spiritual values. In this way, I feel very strongly that Tibetan culture will have a role to play in the future of humanity.” (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

iggy 1 tibetThe show started with a very dark performance by Iggy Pop of the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”. Iggy was staring right at me, his deep rasping voice emanating from his stark, wrinkled face. Quite scary stuff and not what I expected, but a great introduction to the concert.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” (Dylan Thomas, 1951)

This was followed by a musical performance by avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson. There were quite a few artists who I did not recognise but each one performed a unique and appropriate contribution to the evening. Jessie Paris Smith, daughter of Patti, performed a solo acoustic “Monster”, followed by the Black Pumas. Then someone more familiar appeared. Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips sang “Flowers of Neptune” from within the familiar bubble, which I have seen him perform from before.

After contributions by Angelique Kidjo and Brittany Howard, the more familiar face of Annie Lennox appeared at the piano singing a short set of “You Placed a Chill In My Heart”, “Cold” and finishing with the Eurythmics “Here Comes the Rain Again”.

After several further offerings, Eddie Vedder, performed Pearl Jam’s “Can’t Keep” on ukulele.

tibet alan and philWe were then treated to a video from a previous concert; of Philip Glass accompanying the legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Stunning stuff, which brought back memories of when Laura, David, Shauna and I travelled to Edinburgh Playhouse and were lucky enough to see Patti Smith perform an evening of Allen Ginsberg poetry, again accompanied by Philip Glass on piano.

Philip Glass is, of course, widely recognised as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He is one of the fathers of minimalism, although he often rejects this title. His striking repetitive style has influenced many important popular music artists, including David Bowie, and he regularly, to this day, provides accompaniment to poetry readings by artists such as Patti Smith.

Alan Ginsberg was a seminal figure in the “beat” movement, promoting, through his poetry, anti-war messages, the counterculture, sexual freedom and Eastern religion. I have a vague memory of him appearing at Morden Tower, Newcastle University in the 1970s, and for some reason, I did not go along; something I regret to this day.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke to us, marking the importance of Tibet House and its significance to culture and religion.tibet patti

The evening concluded with Patti Smith and her daughter, accompanied by Joan Baez and many more of the performers, singing very appropriately “People Have the Power”.

Not quite what I expected, but nonetheless an enjoyable event.


Patti Smith A Black Friday Performance Veeps livestream 27 November 2020

patti ticketSo I finally entered the live streaming era. I couldn’t resist, of course, “seeing” Patti Smith “in concert” in a Veeps live streaming event on Black Friday. I must admit to being quite intrigued and excited about how my hero Patti would join me in my living room through my laptop. What would it be like? Could it in any way match a real live event?

Well all was to be revealed at 8 PM on 27th November. Having resisted the rush for online bargains on Black Friday, I made up for it by treating myself to joining Patti, her daughter Jessie Paris Smith and long-term sidekick Tony Shanahan for a concert in my living room. Patti appeared, on time (no long waiting for the artist to appear in this medium) in what looked like her Bowery upstairs room set out as a studio, with her patti tix 2daughter Jessie Paris on keyboards and Tony Shanahan or electric piano.

Patti started with a reading from her book “Year of the Monkey”, followed by a series of songs, most of which I recognised, on which she accompanied herself with an acoustic guitar and the keyboards of her fellow musicians. These included “My Blakean Year”(based around her thoughts and feelings of the poet William Blake), another poem “The Woes of the Young Scientists”, a beautiful cover of “After the Gold Rush” (for Neil Young’s 75th birthday the week before),”Elegie” for Jimi Hendrix, whose birthday it would have been that day (“Happy Birthday Jimi”, said Patti sweetly) and the lovely “This Is the Girl”, Patti illustrating the song with some lovely small hand/arm movements. The set closed with songs from more familiar territory including “Dancing Barefoot”, “People Have the Power” and, finally “Pissing in a River”. Patti was on fine form throughout, looking as lovely and natural as ever. A great performance by all three musicians.patti 1

Well, what are my final conclusions of a live streaming event? Did Patti really join me in my living room? Well, of course not, but there was a strange intimacy to the performance. Did it match up to a real-life event? No, nothing can match the atmosphere of a live rock performance, but it was okay as a substitute during these strange times. Would I go to another such event? Yes, perhaps, depending upon the artist and the context. Did I enjoy it? Come on, yes of course I enjoyed it. After all, it is Patti Smith!

patti 2

Setlist: Year of the Monkey (reading); Grateful; My Blakean Year; The Woes of the Young Scientists (Poem); After the Gold Rush (Neil Young cover); This Is the Girl; Elegie; Dancing Barefoot; Beneath the Southern Cross; Peaceable Kingdom / People Have the Power; Pissing in a River

The Shining Levels Darlington Library 22nd November 2019

From the original blurb on the excellent site Tracks Darlington

HARK! The sound of stories. An evening of music inspired by tales from times past. Historical. Mythological. Folkological. Fill your ears and your souls with songs of stagmen, golden apples, coiners, diamond rings and murder for love. History is darker than you think.

THE SHINING LEVELS: Presenting music inspired by the award winning novel The Gallows Pole by Ben Myers. Haunting harmonies and beautiful folk fusion, interspersed with readings from the book. Written on the edge of the Northern English moors and using rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, their debut album is a heady brew of gritty landscape hymns, ethereal acid-folk, borderlands ballads, 70s folk horror atmospherics, moor-top drones and much, much more.”

hark tixA taxi from Sunderland to Darlington (return) is expensive. But, what the hell, my lovely daughter Laura was singing in the band The Shining Levels at Darlington Library. Well I had to go, didn’t I? So my kindly Station Taxis driver drove me, along with my carer Jackie, waited for me, and then drove me back home afterwards.

“The Shining Levels are a brand new music collective based in Durham and Northumberland, who record on the edge of the Northern English Moors and seek inspiration from books. Their new album, Music Inspired By The Novel The Gallows Pole (a novel written by Durham-born author Benjamin Myers) uses rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, takes influence from the likes of Pentangle, Sandy Denny, Tom Waits alongside a love of ambient music, hip-hop production and musical obscurities. The result is music that is as exquisite as it is interesting.” Narc The Shining Levels are Davy J (vocals, guitar and piano), DW Coggins (vocals and guitar), Laura Smith (vocals and loop pedals), Christina Cuthbertson (vocals and flute) and Jenny Clewes (vocals and violin).laura shinning levels

Jackie and I arrived at Darlington library, entered a lift which took us from the street into the library itself, where the performance took place surrounded by shelves of books; quite a strange and unique, yet very appropriate, setting for an evening of book readings and folk roots world music, some of which was inspired by a book (namely the Gallows Pole).

We were seated at the side of stage with a great view of the performance. The evening started with some book readings, followed by the exquisite Storm Chorus, a duo from the edge of the North Yorks moors whose music is a haunting mix of folk and Goth. Then the Shining Levels took the stage and delivered a set of songs, written by Davy and Dan, which draw from the book the Gallows Pole, laura black n whiteand transfixed the audience in their haunting, swirling mix of sounds. The eclectic combination of folk music, book readings and mix of flute, violin, a female trio of vocals and male vocals has to be experienced to understand just how beautiful, yet at the same time dark and powerful, their sounds can be. Live in London Of course I am biased, being the very proud father of Laura, but the review above also demonstrates just how haunting a combination it is. Jackie and I are both getting to know the songs and the music and each time we experience it we notice new nuances and textures. The performance was over far too soon and then we were off downstairs in the lift, after a quick word to congratulate Laura and the others, and into our waiting taxi. Soon we were back home, having picked up Chris, who helped me back into my bed, the music still swirling around in my head.


Evidently… John Cooper Clarke Tyneside Cinema 3 Oct 2013

evidently_john_cooper_clarke To celebrate National Poetry Day The Tyneside Cinema welcomed punk poet John Cooper Clarke for a one-off live broadcast of the documentary Evidently… John Cooper Clarke. Not only were we treated to a screening of the film, but the great poet was also there himself, and took  part in a Q&A session after the film. The proceedings were beamed to a dozen or so cinemas across the UK, and the audience at each event was given the opportunity to tweet questions to John. Laura is a big fan, so along we went.
Evidently… John Cooper Clarke, is a documentary which “records and celebrates the life and works of ‘punk poet’ John Cooper Clarke, looking at his life as a poet, a comedian, a recording artist and revealing how he has remained a significant influence on contemporary culture. With a bevy of household names from stand-up comedy, lyricists, rock stars and cultural commentators paying homage to him, the film reveals Salford-born Cooper Clarke, as a dynamic force who remains as relevant today as ever, as successive generations cite him as an influence on thier lives, careers and styles.
johnctix From Bill Bailey to Plan B, Steve Coogan to Kate Nash and Arctic Monkey’s front man, Alex Turner to cultural commentators such as Miranda Sawyer and Paul Moreley, the film exposes the life behind one of Britain’s sharpest and most witty poets – a national treasure.”
Laura and I both enjoyed the film which featured all of John’s best known poems, and the Q & A session gave a fascinating insight into his life and influences. I found out quite a few things that I didn’t know about John. For instance I wasn’t aware that his poems had been placed on the national English syllabus for Schools. He even told us which brand of hairspray he uses to keep his formidable locks in place.

Patti Smith and Philip Glass The Poet Speaks Edinburgh Festival Aug 13th 2013

Patti Smith and Philip Glass Edinburgh Festival Aug 13th 2013
pattiprog Laura, David, Shona and I spent a day at the Edinburgh festival yesterday. We travelled up primarily to see Patti Smith perform with Philip Glass in “The Poet Speaks”, a tribute to Allen Ginsberg. The main concert was at the Playhouse Theatre last night, however we were lucky enough to attend a small intimate “conversations with….” session with Patti and Philip yesterday lunchtime. We also took in a stand up show, and had a great, but very long day.
From the festival website: “Two of the pillars of contemporary music come together for an intimate evening of poetry, music and song in tribute to their friend, the great Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg. Punk poet and provocateur Patti Smith performs both her own and Ginsberg’s poetry, with accompaniment and solo pieces for piano from founding father of minimalism Philip Glass. Renowned as one of the originators of the Beat movement, Ginsberg’s raw, visceral poems, including Howl, Kaddish and Wichita Vortex Sutra, range from forceful fury to profound spirituality.” pattiti1 Our day started early, leaving shortly after 8am and driving up the A1 to Edinburgh, arriving shortly after 11am. We drove straight up the Royal Mile, and easily found The Hub, which is the central point for the International Festival and was also the venue for the first session that we were attending. We entered the main hall of The Hub, and took a seat at the front just in front of the stage. The red sofa in front of us was soon occupied by Patti Smith, Philip Glass and the Reverend Richard Coles (ex Communard, musician, broadcaster and priest). Richard was charged with questioning Patti and Philip who talked freely and with affection of their old friend Alan Ginsberg. It was fascinating to hear of the background to their relationship with Ginsberg, and how they came to start to perform his poetry. Patti revealed that it was Ginsberg who persuaded her to return to performing after the loss of her husband, and she also shared how she listens to Philip’s music while she writes. The pair took some questions from the audience before leaving to prepare for the evening’s performance. pattitix2
We spent the afternoon exploring some of the Fringe activities around Pleasance, and took in one stand-up act. The evening performance was at the Playhouse theatre at 8.30pm. Playhouse was packed for the event, which mixed Smith reading her own poetry, with that of Alan’s and Glass seated at a grand piano accompanied her. A collage of images, paintings and photographs from Ginsberg’s collection provided a backdrop to the performance. This was very different to the rock performance format which I am used to, but it was a very welcome change for me. I had a sense that I was witnessing a very special event. Patti started off with one of Ginsberg’s poems and then read some of her own writing; each performed with great spirit and passion. The pair then each performed their own short set. Patti read Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Land of Nod”, which she explained was her childhood favourite, and sang, along with her regular guitarist Tony Shanahan, “Dancing Barefoot”, old favourite “Pissing in a River”, and a great version of John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”. Glass then held the crowd spellbound with three short piano pieces. The pair then closed the evening with some further readings. The crowd called them back for an encore of “People Have the Power”, which to be honest was ok, but didn’t quite fit with the evening, Glass having some obvious difficulty in making the switch to the boogie oriented bar piano which was required. A truly great and inspirational evening. We left the theatre around 10.10pm and headed back down the A1, arriving home around 1am.

Patti Smith Scarborough Spa 21st April 2013

Patti Smith Scarborough Spa 21st April 2013
pattitix Laura and I went to sunny (although cold) Scarborough last night to spend an evening in the company of Patti Smith, accompanied by Tony Shanahan. This was an intimate concert in the Spa Theatre; one of three dates that have come about as part of a visit to Yorkshire and the Bronte country, that Patti has been making with her sister (it was her sister’s 65th birthday treat). So there was lots of talk of the Bronte sisters, and some music, poetry and chat. Patti was in good spirits and on great form. This was the first time that Laura has seen her in concert, and she was very impressed. patti Patti Smith seems so natural in concert these days; going to see her is like going to see an old friend who chats to you about what has been going on in her life. So last night she told how she had been to visit Ann Bronte’s grave in Scarborough, how she loves watching UK TV detective shows (Frost, Lewis, Morse, Cracker are all favourites), and how she enjoyed great kippers for breakfast for the first time (in her Scarborough hotel). Many of the songs were dedicated to the Bronte sisters and their brother, and Banga was even dedicated to their dog Keeper (with much barking from Patti and the audience: you had to be their 🙂 ). She also read a poem by Ann Bronte (A Reminiscence), and introduced Because the Night by reading an extract from her recent book “Kids”. All pretty powerful stuff, and an awesome and capitaviting performance by a true artist who is as relevant today as she ever was (and her voice is just as strong. Awesome. Setlist: Dancing Barefoot; April Fool; It’s a Dream; Beneath the Southern Cross; Ghost Dance; Peaceable Kingdom; My Blakean Year; This Is the Girl; Pissing in a River; Because the Night. Encore: Banga; People Have the Power.

A Reminiscence by: Anne Bronte (1820-1849)

ES, thou art gone! and never more
Thy sunny smile shall gladden me;
But I may pass the old church door,
And pace the floor that covers thee,

May stand upon the cold, damp stone,
And think that, frozen, lies below
The lightest heart that I have known,
The kindest I shall ever know.

Yet, though I cannot see thee more,
‘Tis still a comfort to have seen;
And though thy transient life is o’er,
‘Tis sweet to think that thou hast been;

To think a soul so near divine,
Within a form so angel fair,
United to a heart like thine,
Has gladdened once our humble sphere.

John Cooper Clarke Whitley Bay Playhouse 22 Oct 2010

John Cooper Clarke Whitley Bay Playhouse 22 Oct 2010
So the Manchester punk bard comes to Whitley Bay (and he thought it was Whitby!).
Laura has been listening to quite a lot of John’s material and has wanted to see him for some time. For me it must be 30+ years since I saw him, probably supporting the Buzzcocks or Penetration or some other punk band of the late 70s. The Whitley Bay Playhouse has recently been renovated and this was our fist visit to this particular venue. We arrived while the support act was on stage, and decided to partake in ice cream (Laura decreed the honey flavour glorious).
John took to the stage around 8.45pm and treated us to some jolly good banter, lots of dry humour peppered with expletives, and northern observations that only John can create. The poems came thick and fast, and included old favourites such as Beasley Street which was given a revamp to bring it up to date with contemporary society (Beasley Boulevard), Twat, and Evidently Chicken Town. All of these were delivered at break neck speed in his monitone Mancunian manner. John looks pretty much as he did in the 70s in a tight black suit and wearing some great chelsea boots.
Laura said it was great, which I had to agree with.
Setlist (something like): Hire Care, Adverts; Limerick; The List; Beasley Street; Beasley Boulevard; Twat; Crossing the Line; Things are Gonna Get Worse; Evidently Chicken Town.

i hate printed tickets