The Boars Head is ideal for Mouth & Music. The upstairs room is self contained and big enough to take a good size audience, but compact enough to create atmosphere. The landlord and staff are supportive, the prices reasonable, and the piped music is unashamedly hip retro, Lou Reeds’ Waiting for the Man,New York Dolls’ Personality Crisis, Television’s Marquee Moon and Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House set the tone for an evening of diverse, original entertainment.
A full room turned out for a theme loosely based on love, it being Valentines week, and we certainly witnessed the full spectrum. It is to the credit of organisers Sarah Tamar and Heather Wastie that several of the performers were new to me. Familiar faces are good, but any successful event requires that new performers regularly appear to keep the regulars guessing, and coming.
Newcomer Alistair Knowles caught the ear with an irreverent tirade on growing old disgracefully, John Morris delivered his trademark laconic measured fare whilst Andrew owens read a strong short story entitled Dancing Apart. Holly McGill posts a popular blog , her live performance is now catching up with her written missives, Toads and Love I particularly enjoyed, as I enjoyed Suz Winspear’s customarily assured performance, although you can be assured that when Suz writes of In my Dreams those dreams are likely to be as comfortable as a pair of her platform boots. Closing the first half were musical duo Michelle Reynolds and Kim Lowings with an eclectic traditional range of songs performed with affection and panache.
Damon Lord started the second half with some short poems I had not heard before which were particularly effective before William Shatspeare appeared as Johnny Gash with his band the Bleeding Catfaces. They were superb. He combines the demeanour, wit, and appearance of Jarvis Cocker, with the melancholic madness of Morrissey, in an unholy alchemy of the absurd;”If you promise you will be my wife, I promise that I will put down the knife”- you get the picture?!
Ian Ward boldly allowed the audience to select his set by asking them to shout out random numbers which corresponded with specific poems. Normally the poet surprises the audience, I an chooses that the audience surprise him! A seasoned collection ensures that although the pacing is at risk, the quality is not. A newcomer, Io ,gave an enigmatic performance taking in a poem about childhood racial segregation in the United States and an homage to Janis Joplin. She frustrated me for the right reasons. There was clearly an interesting personal story to be told and a back story to her poetry, but we never had the chance to hear it- maybe next time.
Co -organisers Sarah Tamar and Heather Wastie rounded off the open mic, the former with I love to love ( but my baby just loves to dance?), the latter with a trio of new pieces of which Brief Encounter (pull up to the bumper?) stood out. The musical denouement came fromThe Very Grimm Bros, Adrian and John Grimm, who had lowered the drawbridge from Grimm Castle to offer their customary satirical wisdom. Frankly Chris Huhne was a sitting target! They are always a joy to watch, only their Manorial duties preclude world domination.
Myself and Amy Rainbow rounded off the evening, common sense dictates that any critical assessment is best made by others. In any case Amy’s lawyers always check that anything I have said about her is “fair”, a word which has given the legal profession, our psychotherapists and Relate, an inordinate amount of work. Is “difficult” spelt with one f or two?
A fine evening, and one which Amy and I enjoyed hugely. Mouth and Music next plays on Tues 12th March, at 8pm.
Pictures by kind permission of Geoff Robinson.