Review: Sonnet Youth #10: Season 2 Launch

 

Wednesday 19th April, Drygate, Glasgow.

Sonnet Youth bills itself as a spoken word house party and the launch of Season 2 was no exception. Cat Hepburn and Kevin P Gilday have been running these nights for over a year and while they work closely with the local community, hosting poetry events for the 16 and up age range, Drygate seems to be where they are most at home.

Cat started off with a poem about being out of her nut at T-In-The-Park : a fun start to the evening, after all, losing a pal, taking poppers and having a disappointing sexual encounter in a tent is something we can all relate to.

Next up was Aidan Rivett, relatively new to poetry in comparison to the performers on after him but you wouldn’t have known. Trotting out a mix of tried-and-tested and new material, his set almost seemed professional. What I like about Aidan is his jump between the serious and the absurd. Call me old fashioned but when dealing with heavy topics like depression or Oasis, a bit of humour is always needed to get the crowd on side. Spending a great deal of time on his back, reading poetry to the ceiling, he finished off with a poem about hangovers, quite rightly dedicated to Gilday – the king of self-hatred and vomit.

Kate Tough got a lot of laughs in her set. I’ve always thought found poetry to be hit or miss: hats off to Kate for taking a text called ‘basic horse law’ then substituting the word ‘horse’ for ‘sphincter’. After watching her performance, I would love to read some of her fiction and poetry, which is available from Freight books & Amazon online.

Last in the first half was comedian Kimmy Louden who chatted about feminism, ecstasy and her ingenious idea for a dating app – Dick Advisor. Maybe the most impressive thing about her set was how she manged to use the word ‘slag’ at a poetry night without the world ending – who knew? I’ll be looking out for her on future bills and I would encourage you to do the same.

The Creative Martyrs are a musical/comedy duo who play the ukulele and the cello while singing politically charged lyrics that cover topics like whether it’s ok to punch a Nazi in the face, bombing for peace, and bumming. Stepping away from the mic they easily managed to control the room, creating their own atmosphere. Regulars on the Edinburgh fringe, these two fine gentlemen showcased their performance chops, with a healthy dose of crowd interaction and lashings of face paint.

Colin McGuire read excerpts from his long-form show “Wake Up” with musical interludes, costume (he was dressed in his PJ’s) and props (he had a duvet and pillow). McGuire has always been a master at bridging the gap between page and stage, creating poetry which works just well as delicately crafted verse as it does being shouted to a pub of drunken revellers. Continuing to go from strength to strength, Colin shows no signs of calling it a night any time soon.

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 treated Sonnet Youth to an acoustic set, pleased to have a few less members on stage, front man Colonel John Mustard informed the crowd that they could play some songs that don’t normally get to, as not everyone in the band enjoys them. Getting the crowd to their feet, the whole room danced from one end of Drygate to the other and back again to The Dijon’s current single ‘Cross the Road’.

A great night and well worth the door price. Peace, Love and Mustard.

 

A note on the anonymity of reviewers. All reviews published in All These New Relations are anonymous. The editorial team will not pass on any contact details for reviewers, nor will reviewers enter into correspondence with any readers. If there are factual inaccuracies or queries about a review, please direct them to the ATNR Editorial Team at allthesenewrelations@gmail.com

Review: Loud Poets – La La Loud

 

Friday 31st March, The Mash House, Edinburgh.

A whistle-stop tour: Loud Poets don their glad rags for La La Loud, a spoken word evening with an emotional core beneath the razzle dazzle. Catherine, Doug, Katie and Kevin are funny and welcoming hosts who perform with style and heart. In-house band Ekobirds lends the evening added poignancy and humour.

It begins with an open mic. Emma Atkin – up first, laughing nervously – holds the audience transfixed with her understated delivery and desperately sad narrative: ‘I was never meant to be the only one.’ Stuart Kenny, fast-paced and playing with words, offers rueful, relatable observations: ‘His newsfeed asked him what was on his mind, one day he realized what was on his mind was what was on his newsfeed’. Finally, Georgia Bartlett-McNeil proclaims a body positivity anthem, caressing her ‘denim cased man crushers’. The audience whoop, and the next chapter begins.

‘This is a battle to reclaim romance!’ storms Captain of the Rant. He harnesses body and voice as he indicts labels and the dream of perfection; at times dryly humorous, at others raging, then again petulant or dramatic. The audience are rapt, enlisted for the cause.

Jess Smith is charming, builds easy rapport. She begins with a funny, plaintive plea for America to ‘do your fucking dishes’. Later, to the La La Land theme, she says ‘You told me I was made of glass’ – ‘you didn’t have to drop me just to be sure’. Our hearts break a little.

Erin McFadyen is lovely to listen to, painting images onto our imagined canvas ‘we stand there with two muddy feet, each’. Her poems reference Maya Angelou and her wish ‘to not call anything that’s about my feelings chick lit’.

‘ROBERT BURNS!’ proclaims Chris Henson, as the audience flinch, ‘in describing a red red rose used the word red twice’. His dressing down of the bard leaves us laughing helplessly. Another poem is broken up by jaunty singing and perfectly-measured eyebrow raises. With a showman’s point to the air, he exits.

Bex Sherwood begins by unleashing a fusillade of rhyming slang at the laughing audience, dissolving into laughter herself at points – ‘I know she wants to get into his Adam Ants’. Her Edinburgh Fringe poem perfectly evokes the hot August streets ‘rows of locals pray’/‘we sacrifice this university a cappella group in your name’.

Mark Gallie is funny and eloquent, and his love poem for The One he has not met yet elicits a chorus of sighs. ‘We nearly met a million times’. He could woo the world with words. His vulnerability is cast aside in his Pokémon tribute – ‘You call us aggressive, I prefer primal’.

Topics range from the intimately personal to the overtly political. In form and style they likewise differ, with clever rhyming wordplay succeeded by vivid prose imagery interspersed by rousing slam poems. The best moments combine stylistic skill and emotional weight – notably, Katie Ailes, Jess Smith, and Captain of the Rant. The evening is varied but never discordant, stylish without being superficial. A lovely night.

A note on the anonymity of reviewers. All reviews published in All These New Relations are anonymous. The editorial team will not pass on any contact details for reviewers, nor will reviewers enter into correspondence with any readers. If there are factual inaccuracies or queries about a review, please direct them to the ATNR Editorial Team at allthesenewrelations@gmail.com

Review: Flint & Pitch Revue #4


24th March, Bongo Club, Edinburgh.

Flint & Pitch Revue nights continue where the Rally & Broad cabaret shows left off, in the same venue with a similar format, with a similar crowd (roughly fifty/fifty Edinburgh artists and appreciators). Some people come for the spoken word, theatre or music, some come for the raffle. This review is focusing on the poetry, although it should be noted that the raffle remains a sizeable lure.

Ryan Van Winkle is the first poet on stage, reading new material focusing on loss, childhood and ageing. Being born in Connecticut, there is also the issue of spatial distance, and Van Winkle’s poems feature recurring images of trains, travel, recklessness and death. Of the four main poetry cadences (Slow, Slam (Crescendo), Slam (non-Crescendo) and That High Pitched Urgent One), Van Winkle is one of two performers to deliver his words slowly, pressing middle syllables slightly harder to make his delivery both urgent and languid. Also, his patter is excellent. I recognised parts of it from other gigs, but mention this not as a criticism – rather as a note that patter is a necessary skill for performers to develop. Repeating what works between gigs is a sensible way to go.

Sophia Walker performs one segment from her new show In Fidelity, road testing the material for the first time. Walker is an experienced enough performer to turn forgetting her script into the biggest laugh of the night, and maintains Slam (non-Crescendo) cadence throughout. Her word choice is straightforward and immediate. Due to it being a test of new material, the dynamism isn’t quite there, but in confessing her relationships and infidelities she is able to bring in commentary on monogamous couples, particularly incisive on the subject of need and respect. The potentially intense material is approachable in this form, the delivery laidback rather than confrontational. It’s not there yet, but that’s the point. Anyone looking at long form spoken word needs to work through this phase, and it’s always interesting to see how early versions develop.

The final spoken word act, Ellen Renton, is on in the final poetry slot of the evening, in the New Voices Slot. Renton’s use of the slow cadence is punctuated by tiny stillnesses and slight smiles that enhance her optimistic, genuine musings on growing up. It’s not showy, but it’s tremendously effective. Her subject matter is an interesting contrast to the older poets, because this is positive about youth and moving on. While she deploys alliteration too often, her poems still strike a chord and as such her set produced the biggest cheers of the night.

*Correction: The original post had stated that Ellen Renton was in the headline slot of the evening. This has now been corrected to reflect the New Voices slot.

A note on the anonymity of reviewers. All reviews published in All These New Relations are anonymous. The editorial team will not pass on any contact details for reviewers, nor will reviewers enter into correspondence with any readers. If there are factual inaccuracies or queries about a review, please direct them to the ATNR Editorial Team at allthesenewrelations@gmail.com