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Independent, objective reviews on Performances & Publications
Rantanory: Little Stories
Rrrants Collective, 2012
am proud to admit to being a fan of Rrrants' work. The
collective of poets and performers spends much of their time
providing a forum for writers who otherwise would not have
any outlets for self-expression, as well as presenting
established writers' work. They are frequently to be found
performing at the numerous festivals that occur throughout
the summer, all over the United Kingdom.
This collection of stories, part of a
two-volume series available for purchase on the Rrrants
takes us back to the days when BBC television regularly
broadcast the series Jackanory, in which
celebrities read tales both ancient and modern direct to
camera, broken up only by occasional illustrations. The
Rantanory tales provide a opportunity for performers to
exercise their vocal powers; it is a testament to their
abilities that the tales I heard held me spellbound.
Two of them deserve mention (but that's
not to say the others aren't equally good). Both read by
Paul Eccentric, "Making Up the Numbers," and "Never Change"
are short tales focusing on aspirations, contrasted with the
daily grind of the protagonists' lives. I will not spoil
potential listeners' fun by telling too much about the
plots; but suffice to say that both of them have
satisfyingly unexpected denouements.
Eccentric has a beguiling voice, that has an ability to
ascend to heroic flights of fancy, as his protagonists dream
of what they could be. He also has the gift of language,
giving us an insight into his characters' state of mind
through the use of multiple subordinate clauses.
The collections of Rantanory tales are
highly recommended (and reasonably priced as well) for
Rantanory Tales at the Rrrants Shop
Christine Adams 8 April 2012
Another top Rrrants night on
Friday. Held at a smashing venue, The Tea Box in Richmond and
with a full audience that has no connection to the performers,
Paul and Donna hosted one of their rare but brilliant story
telling nights. Paul performed a series of cuttingly observant
yet twisted pieces from his Rrrantanory collection; The
Changeling (Pippa Chapman and Vinnie Gibbons) gave us a vicious
but hilarious attack on pop culture using woodland creatures and
a clarinet and Ant Smith enraptured all with three very
entertaining but very different short stories that didn't
contain any swearing! Great stuff, hope Rrrants continue to
pursue this new direction.
of Wellies, Tents and Chemical Khazis.
to more Rrrants radio broadcasts on
5.30pm Every Friday
and other times throughout the week
dramas online is devoted to reviews of the
best radio drama productions, including
book-readings and short stories. They
include classics, new books and plays, and
contemporary works from Great Britain and
the United States.
Rrrants Collective, November
Through the good
offices of the Rrrants Collective -
especially Donna Daniels-Moss - I
had the chance to listen to the
complete version of this
documentary, first broadcast on
My Word Radio in November 2011.
Paul Eccentric, the three episodes
followed the collective as they
played various festivals throughout
Britain in 2011, culminating in the
Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe. Its
chief purpose was to demonstrate
that "festivals" should not
automatically be equated with such
stereotypical ideas as "mud,"
"hippies," "drugs," and "chemical
toilets;" they offered something for
everyone. The Rickmansworth
Festival, for instance, was very
much a family affair, where Rrrants
presented a selection of poets from
ethnically diverse backgrounds for a
predominantly white audiences. This
was in stark contrast to the
London-based festivals (for example,
the London Fringe, planned as an
antidote to its more illustrious
Edinburgh counterpart), which
constantly attracted patrons of
different ages, backgrounds and
documentaries comprised a series of
interviews with performers,
promoters and punters, interspersed
with performances from members of
the Rrrants Collective. Eccentric
generally enjoyed visiting the
various functions - apart from one
occasion in the south of England
where he objected strongly to
sleeping in a tent and availing
himself of the primitive washing
facilities. Nonetheless he achieved
his stated aim of proving that
festivals could offer something for
anyone, if only they set aside their
prejudices and approached the events
with open minds. I particularly
enjoyed Eccentric's song about "The
Englishman Abroad" - as a long-term
expatriate, I could understand just
how awful many of those
holidaymakers who leave their home
country in search of sunshine, booze
and football actually are.
importantly, the documentaries
emphasized the importance of poetry
as a way of uniting performers and
audiences in a communal event that
transcends class, gender and ethnic
divisions. If this can be
successfully achieved, then the act
of delivering poetry becomes an
effective means of making social and
political criticism. They
also provide a platform for poets of
different ages, backgrounds, and
abilities, as part of an overall
event which is often staged free of
charge. All they expect is a nominal
contribution from audience members,
the proceeds of which go towards
providing books and other materials
for local schools. They understand
above all that poetry is a
social ritual designed for
everyone - performers and
I really enjoyed
the series as a piece of social
observation as well as an
entertaining introduction to
Rrrants' work. I hope they are
encouraged to make a sequel (or two,
or even three).
Rrrants - 2012 - Jan- BardAid
The Big BardAid Book Launch. The Camden Eye. Sunday 22nd January
"So you don't think poetry's for
Well, think again!
Poetry can be so much more than people imagine.
Poetry excludes no one.
POETRY IS FREEDOM!
POETRY IS POWER!"
This bold statement can be found on the back of The Big BardAid
Book - the latest publication by Rrrants. BardAid is a noble
initiative which aims to put sweary accessible poetry into
schools with the longer term objective of creating writers for
the future. The book itself is a smart looking publication
featuring the pick of the talent currently performing on the
South East circuit.
It was standing room only at the launch gig in the Camden Eye
and, as you entered, you were greeted by a sea of vivid yellow
as each punter clutched their copies of The Big Bardaid Book. It
was heartening to see some new faces among the crowd especially
as the room remained jampacked throughout the night.
Paul Eccentric and Ian 'Basswhore' Newman, known collectively as
the AntiPoet, kick off the evening. As the public face of the
Rrrants collective, they had already been through a hectic
weekend of plugging the new book. Despite the inevitable
croakiness, they stormed through furious renditions of old
favourites 'I Like Girls' and 'Artists' followed by the newer
'An Englishman Abroad', a vicious, scathing attack on the 'I'm
not racist but...' brigade.
Lobby Lud - winner of the 2011 'Uke of Edinburgh' award followed
with his usual good natured, shambolic set. He spent some time
teaching the audience their part for a call and response
sequence which didn't actually happen but, as we were all having
such fun watching this Frank Spencer/Mr Bean/Chuckle Brother of
poetry, it didn't really matter! My one criticism is that he
didn't supply any custard creams, tsk, tsk.
Next up was the superb Mel Jones whose acid tongue is firmly in
her cheek. Her set was a candid catalogue of sexual exploration
from her love of amateur porn ('it's democratic!') to her poem
about bestiality that could only feature words beginning with
the letter 'm' (Top line: 'moggie moves muffward!') A quick
plug for her new book 'Fuck Me (If You Think You're Hard Enough)
led into her homage to 51% of the population: 'You're Sexy'.
There is a real depth behind Mel's smutty one-liners and this is
perfectly demonstrated in the brilliant piece 'Child-Free'.
Where can you find this? It's in The Big BardAid Book of course!
From sexual politics to social politics in the form of Ian
Freemantle who, at the time of writing, was the Bard of Stoney
Stratford. His powerful rhetoric celebrates regional dialects;
it reclaims the true spirit of anarchy and challenges private
ownership of land. On his own, Ian is a charismatic and
compelling figure but when accompanied by the powerful and
intense clog dancing of Jess Midwood, his ability to command
attention goes off the scale - the sound is just incredible!
One of the goals of BardAid is to prove that anything goes in
poetry, be it content, delivery, use of humour, use of melody
and no-one breaks the boundaries of conventional poetry quite
like Ant Smith - The GameCat. A sturdy little bugger, he belts
out the deliciously kinky 'Plaything' in a beautiful tenor and
then screeches through the bile-fuelled 'Definition', a
brilliant revisioning of which can be found on The GameCat's CD
- Weird Scenes. His final two pieces are 'You Can't Do Anything
About It 'Cos I'm Mad', a robust singalong (with actions!) and
the now infamous 'Forever And A Day', both of which challenge
notions of taste and decency while also managing to be both
hilarious and heartbreaking.
The AntiPoet bounce back on and maintain the frivolous mood with
the husky 'Foxy Copper' and the musky 'Tights Not Stockings'.
This is a good time to credit the other members of the Rrrants
crew - Donna Daniels-Moss, Emma Chesterton and Vicky Laxton-Bass (who
sadly didn't perform tonight). Not only do they do the unsexy,
donkey work but they help make the night a communal event. They
each have an amazing ability to learn other poet's pieces and
join in with gusto which is immensely flattering to the
performers and makes each Rrrants event a noisy, jolly party.
Alan Wolfson, who along with Mel Jones runs the great Kiss The
Sky poetry night in Hampstead burst onto the stage with a
frenetic and varied set beginning with a joke that connected
Chinese New Year's Eve with a peanut butter sandwich and a cock
- you really had to be there. His first poetry piece 'Could' is
a withering attack on advertising semantics; '19 Upside Down'
has a healthy optimism similar to Roger McGough's 'Let Me Die A
Young Man's Death'. A short interlude to advertise 'Professor
Finger Fuck' (all Alan needs is a business plan and that's an
episode of Dragon's Den no-one would want to miss) then it's
back to 'reality' and accompanied by the Basswhore, Alan
performed a 'cherchez la femme' noirish tale about adjectives
being stolen and confined in a vamp's lair. To close, the mood
switched from sultry surrealism to hysterical frustration in the
account of navigating the bureaucracy of a licence office -
which, funnily enough, can also be found in The Big Bardaid
The spirited Helen McCookerybook managed to create a
not-too-comfy glow by looking askance at the world. Beginning
with the tender 'Mr & Mrs Songsmith' - a nice analogy for a
healthy relationship, she led us through the ominous sexy rumble
of 'Temptation', the jaunty yet vicious 'Daisies'; the somewhat
domestic acid trip of Heaven Avenue (accompanied by the Antipoet
on bass and washboard!) to the coquettish, rockabilly finale of
Paul Lyalls - stalwart of the long running Express Excess poetry
night, Guinness record holder for being the first poet to
perform in the new Wembley stadium and all round nice guy -
started his set by revealing his less than grand Latin motto.
I'm not going to give it away here - go and see him! His first
piece, 'Back' is a love poem which speculates on why Mick Jagger
really married Jerry Hall. His next lovely, clever piece 'Tubby'
has been accepted for the Smile underground project, look out
for it - it will make you smile. Paul then did a decent job
with his riot poem parodying the more bizarre actions of the
rioters while acknowledging the multiple factors which provoked
the events of summer 2011. His final piece about being a fake
marriage counsellor was slightly disappointing for me in that it
promoted the binary opposite 'battle of the sexes' myth and
indulged in some old school cliches - which is a shame really as
I think that, generally, Paul is a poet well worth hearing.
Den Hegarty, accompanied by The Odd Eccentrics, continued the
uncomfortably out-dated chauvinistic theme with his renditions
of narrative songs about the '3 Handed Woman' (right, left and
underhanded); and the 1940's number 'Good Morning Judge'. a
cautionary tale about jailbait, fiddling taxes and 'screwing
the wife' out of her alimony. I felt better disposed towards the
shuffling beat of the 1920s classic 'Nobody Wants You When
You're Down and Out' and it was joyful to watch him lollop
around the stage to 'Cell Block No 9' and 'Saturday Nite Fish
Fry'. The final song which he introduced with the cryptic 'These
words are meant for you' led into a chaotic version of 'Mah Na
The AntiPoet closed a great night with 'Random Words In A Random
Order' - which encourages poets to keep it meaningful, not a bad
lesson at all, but judging by the calibre of the performances
from the evening, not necessary for the Rrrants stable.
Rrrants host a poetry night at the Camden Eye on the first
Sunday of every month. Check the events page for further
GREAT WHITE PRAWN
De La Bald
a confession. I originally read this book last year with the
view to review and then, with over 150 gigs and 17 festivals to
deal with that review never did materialise. However I verbally
review it to friends and family members and the book was lent
out many times.
myself with that rare luxury, time, due to the Christmas break
business that we have periodically, I was determined to finally
put polished nails to keys. I initially re visited De La Bald’s
book merely to ensure spellings of people and places were as I
recalled because there was never any doubt that the actual tale
would ever slip from my memory! However as I flipped through,
noting what I needed, I found myself reading the odd sentence,
then the odd paragraph and then the odd page and eventually
could stand no more. This was a story to re visit and enjoy
again properly. I had forgotten the sheer joy of De La Bald's
tale from the descriptions of Holes Bay and surroundings and
it’s fabulous residents to the sometimes near hysterical
scenarios that had previously left me helpless with laughter at
first reading. So, even though I was enjoying my current read
(Fyodor could wait) it was put aside allowing me to once again
drift back into this marvellous tale.
wandered back through, I remembered being somewhat daunted at
the prospect of reviewing a book that told the story of a
prawning village but having never once been disappointed
whenever I had been fortunate enough to see Mr De La Bald
perform on stage, I felt sure that there must be a little
something for me within those shiny covers. This turned out to
be the understatement of the year!
You may be
forgiven for believing that this will be a nice gentle read
during those first few pages, as De La Bald sets the scene,
however, it is not long before you are introduced to the
characters that will ensure you will stay gripped throughout. We
start with the visitor, bent only on digging out a few
interesting traditions and comments from locals that might
interest the world at large. From there, the delicious madness
begins. Grandmothers, who decree at a childs birth to whom they
will be married, only hesitating briefly to check in ‘The Big
Family Book’ less family ties are a little too close for
comfort. Master Miles, master of the prawning vessel ‘Prudence’,
with his more than dubious tactics. The Rev Michael Grape, hell
bent on closing down ‘Paradise’ the local drinking den, house of
almost comic ill repute and home to the vessel capable of
holding half a gallon of cider, the ‘God Forgive me’. Sweaty
Betty, as she strips to her waist to create the hugely popular
local fishcakes in what I truly hope is a purely fabricated
method (for the love of all things holy let this be the case!)
And then, there is Boathook Bald! Good old Boathook, there are
in fact literally no words that can do this character justice so
I can only recommend putting another log on the fire, drawing
yourself a nice cool cider and introducing yourself to the man
as soon as possible. I guarantee you’ll be pleased you did!
DRUGS & ROTTEN JOKES'
published August 2011 and available exclusively from The RRRANTS
shop priced £5 (+£1 p+p)
album from pantwettingly sharp satirical parodist and comedy
songwriter Philfy Phil had this reviewer hankering for a return
to the golden age of pop music, where humourous songs nestled
proudly amongst records by the pop and rock stars of the day on
mainstream radio playlists and Top Of The Pops alike. If those
times hadn't been cruelly snatched from us in the late 1980s
when popular music began to take itself too seriously and
ultimately disappeared up its own arsehole, then at least three
of the tracks from Phil's latest CD would be fighting for chart
placings with the likes of Peter Sellers, Weird Al Jankovich and
Bernard Cribbens. Personally, I blame hypocritical tax dodging
whinger Bono. Lighten up for fuck sake! Get your boys back into
the studio and record a couple of THESE tracks. 'Left Her
Behind' and '$100' or 'Am I Invisible?' would be my choices,
though any of the other nine new tracks on display here for the
first time would do just as well, and would no doubt herald the
pop culture revival of this too long overlooked artform and may
even make U2 actually worth forking out for.
Sex & Drugs
& Rotten Jokes' is a masterclass in musical comedy composition,
deftly written and performed by Phil himself, with added
instrumentation from producer Artwist helping to give this
collection a much fuller, rockier sound than his last. ****
reviewed by F I Kate
by The Game
published July 2011 and available from The RRRANTS shop priced
£5 (+£1 p+p)
waited a long time for this collection from the artist
previously known as Ant Smith. It doesn't disappoint. Ant is the
poetic equivalent to Marmite or rectal examinations. You either
love them or you hate them. There's no sitting on the fence;
especially after the latter! I've never known an audience to be
so radically divided by a single performer. What it comes down
to, I think, is that you either get his work or you don't. Is he
offensive? Well, that depends on whether or not you are able to
look past the scary sweary stalkerman image that he projects and
listen to his cleverly constructed satirical responses to the
hypocracies and the ludicrosities of the modern world or not. If
you can't, and listening to someone declaring their undieing
love for a corpse is the sort of thing that causes your dinner
to pay you an unwelcomed revisit, then this collection is
probably not for you, but if that's the case then you are sadly
missing a treat. Buckle in, baby; life aint always pretty.
Someone has to strip away the platitudes and tell it like it is
and right now our lyrical messiah is Ant Smith, here doing what
evolution gave him the lungs and mouth to do it with.
criticism of this release is that I personally think that the
exquisite 'Definition' should have been the opening gambit,
closely followed by his mantra 'Plaything' with the two live
tracks bringing up the rear. But what do I know? I'm one of the
people who LIKE 'Mortician'.**** reviewed by F I Kate
IS ON FIRE'
by Matador October 2011
from The RRRANTS shop priced £5.99 (+£1+p+p)
marvelled at many a poet with the ability to stand up on a stage
and recite Beowolf style epics without a crib to be seen; all
impassioned gurns and flailing Shakespearean melodrama as they
throw everything they've got at their heartfelt art. I've been
awed by this and then sat down to read their collected works
and... dropped into a coma.
Stanworth doesn't do epic. George does something that many of
today's 'it's-all-in-the-delivery' stage whores naievely
short sharp and surreal humour that works as well on the page as
it does on the stage.
Dating'; four lines (one of which is empty), and six carefuly
chosen words, to 'Frustration'; a tale of unqequited love for a
celestial body, with as many pauses as it has words, this; his
second book of sideways glances, puns, quips and thinly veiled
contempt for public figures is the perfect top-of-the-cistern
poetic portal for the attention deficit generation that proves
the timeworn adage: bigger is not neccessarily better.****
reviewed by F I Kate (and Eric Dazzle!)
Banqueting Suite, Bilston
The subtle assimilation of
poetry into mainstream entertainment was much in evidence on
this bill with three out of the four main acts having a
poetic background, each artist taking the form into
The Full review can be found
Iszi Lawrence, compare... with
Steve Best, The Antipoet, Joe Bell & Montserrat
...The second half
commenced with an act that had, unlike Montserrat
Carbonarra, remembered their instruments, in this case a
double bass – and a triangle. Paul Eccentric and Ian
Newman are The Antipoet, a beat duo who combine comedy,
poetry and music in a winning, idiosyncratic mix. Paul
is the voice ( and triangle player), Ian slaps the
double bass and plays the straight man in the comedy.
Having recently played twenty eight gigs in seven days
they were unsurprisingly well rehearsed, opening with
the defiant We
Are Artists before
taking in the trials of doorstep evangelists, fame with Overnight
black humour with I
Hope It isn’t Anyone We Know. Original
in material, and striking in appearance, the crowd loved
....A variety night with
variety, but producing a coherent whole, promoter Emma Purshouse
has set herself quite a standard with this annual series of
Rrrants Bardaid Festival 2011 by Christine Adams
The Rrrants collective is possibly the least cynical
organization that I've ever encountered. Motivated by the DIY
spirit, they have created an environment where performers can
freely express themselves in any (legal) way that they choose.
Even mere punters are warmly welcomed and quickly integrated. At
a Rrrants event, everyone knows your name.
The BardAid Festival 2011 was a truly boutique festival set in a
cosy function room above The Camden Eye pub. Despite the size of
the room, I'd estimate that at least 500 poetry lovers passed
through the doors over the three days. Not too shabby at all
especially as the money raised for BardAid goes towards
providing sweary poetry books for the people who need them most
– the children.
The weekend was ably and tirelessly MC'd by the charismatic
Paul Eccentric, one half of The Anti-poet. Along with
his partner in crime, Ian aka Bass Whore on, ahem, the
double bass; they teased the audience with brief sets of
hilarious 'musetry' throughout the weekend. The Anti-poet are
kings of the persistent earworm and I'd bet that everyone who
saw them was chanting that mantra of frustrated middle-aged men
- ‘tights not stockings’ – for days afterwards.
Friday 22 July
Day 1 kicked off with live music and such was the variety there
really was something for everyone. Philfy Phil set a
high benchmark, no mean feat considering one of his parodies was
about the perils of having sex during a bout of diarrhoea.
Thaddeus & The Firing Squad
exude ruddy-cheeked charm and measured enthusiasm, a bit like
Jedward with A-levels and Ritalin. They definitely know what
they are doing musically and I’m curious to see how they will
evolve as their world-view widens.
Tinlin are also likeable chaps and gave the
audience chance to pause with their simple, acoustic melodies.
In contrast, Dan ‘Black Sparrow’ Hunt was energetic and
confident. He wears his heart on his sleeve in terms of musical
influences but his brilliant bittersweet lyrics show him to be a
true wordsmith. The Rude Mechanicals were right up my
street, a combination of musical spikiness and high camp
melodrama. They know how to entertain, as do Andy and the
Prostitutes with their folky/punk sound and catchy choruses.
I defy anyone not to join in with ‘Uncle Walt’s a paedophile’.
They have a great line in audience banter and, from a purely
personal point of view, I believe that any band can be improved
with a banjo. Well, apart from U2… and Mumford and Sons.
Saturday 23rd July – Diva Day
Diva Day starts with a bang in the form of Victoria
Laxton-Bass. Definitely one to watch, she is proving to be a
compelling performer in that she has something worth saying plus
an innate understanding of what it is to be a poet. I should
also mention that along with Emma Chesterton and Donna
Daniels-Moss, Victoria is the backbone of Rrrants
and, when she isn’t performing, she can be found doing the
unsexy but necessary tasks behind the scenes.
From great poetry to great music with a series of singers and
acoustic guitarists. Miss Jo Williams hit the ground
running with her distinctive vocals and accomplished guitar
playing, openly acknowledging her influences while ploughing her
own musical furrow.
like Miss Jo W, is much more than simply a girl with a guitar
and was utterly beguiling. The sad news of Amy Winehouse’s death
broke just before her performance so she closed her set with a
sensitive tribute. Something that I quickly realized on this day
was how diverse the performers are and how satisfying this is
for hungry ears. Sola definitely contributed to this with
her beautiful rendition of a traditional Croatian song,
successfully communicating the emotions therein to the largely
English speaking audience. According to her website,
hasn’t been playing guitar for long but I’d never have guessed,
as her delicate picking perfectly complemented her rich and
husky vocal. In many ways, the BardAid Festival was like a
magnificent buffet with numerous flavours for the audience to
taste. However, with many of the performers I wanted a full
being the perfect example, I thoroughly enjoyed her
frustratingly short set in which she deftly combined acoustic
instruments with current sampling technology to great effect.
Back to poetry with Mel Jones, one
of the most engaging performers on the poetry
circuit at the moment. Her love of language shines through, she
is the undisputed 'queen of filth' and her poetry reflects a
joie de vivre that is infectious and liberating.
Despite the success of Flight of the Conchords and the Mighty
Boosh, musical comedy still doesn’t get the acclaim it deserves.
This is a shame especially after seeing two of the best
practitioners of this art. Jammie Sammy, dressed to
impress and armed with a guitar, she lured us into her dark
world of imprisoned lovers and incontinence before securing our
complicity with the anthemic ‘Weirdos’. Maintaining the theme of
bodily functions, Helen Arney and her ukelele managed to
simultaneously delight and horrify the audience with her song in
praise of mooncups (if you don’t know what a mooncup is, try
remember seeing Joolz Denby in Smash Hits in the early
eighties when she was the poster girl for punk poetry. She no
longer has vivid red hair but is still a commanding figure
nonetheless. While her poetry has a slightly dated feel about
it, there was no questioning her self-belief and she had a great
line in pre-amble too. Back to music with the great and very
lovely Helen McCookerybook, whose gentle demeanour and
sweet voice belied her ascerbic lyrics. (She is also a pretty
decent cartoonist too.) The day ended with another musical hero
for me, the wonderful Viv Albertine, formerly of The
Slits. She didn’t chat much but got down to work with a set of
great sounding, very funny songs in which she looks askance at
the world around her. Special mention should go to ‘Creepy
Couples’, which made me think of those other experts in cutting
through the sheer bollocks of modern living - Half Man Half
Biscuit. Oh, and she also used ‘mouth sounds’ to fantastic
effect too. I’m not going to expand on that – you should have
Sunday 24th July – Rrrantanory
The Rrrantanory storytelling session was a great idea and a
welcome indulgence on a Sunday afternoon. Regretfully, I arrived
late and missed Alice Heavyside and Paul Eccentric
but given what I did see, I'm sure they were first rate.
I'm glad that I saw Kat Quatermass whose modern revision
Russian folk tale had the audience both gripped and giggling.
Gabriella Apicella delivered a refreshing and genuinely
fascinating account of a woman going through an abortion. The
brilliance of this writing was that she never once drifted into
navel-gazing mawkishness and managed to deliver a
thought-provoking piece without being judgmental. Ant Smith,
better known for his poetry, delivered two short pieces, the
first a fictional and devilishly funny exposure of the hypocrisy
surrounding bereavement, followed by a true but understated
account of being held at gunpoint during a siege in Mumbai.
The final performer was the hilarious Karen Hayley, Not
just a great storyteller but a master of voices, using clipped,
received pronunciation in her tale of lust for inanimate objects
followed by her love story told from the point of view of a
hardboiled LA 'dame'/clown(!) which also included Spike
Jones-esque sound effects.
The final session…
All too soon, the festival came to a close with a densely packed
evening of poetry which effectively showcased Rrrants top
stalwart of the Milton Keynes poetry scene and co-founder of
Poetry Kapow got everyone in the mood with typical aplomb.
Poeterry, the ambassador of love and rudey sex shenanigans,
just gets better and better and seems truly at home on a stage.
Ian Fremantle, showed great skill in using clever rhymes
to deliver some powerful rhetoric on the homogenization of
culture and the current fashion of demonizing the poor and
dispossessed. The formidable, yet tender, Anna Le
has mastered the art of narrative in poetry as not a word is
wasted and she has a sharp ear for the rhythm and musicality of
language. This is perfectly demonstrated in 'Lego Limbs’, which
explores the all too common paradox of enjoying an intimate
relationship while simultaneously desiring independence.
ScrubberJack brilliantly reflected life on a modern
council estate in a way that wasn’t patronizing or romantic but
transformed the language of that world to create authentic,
valid artistic expression.
alter ego The Game Cat is a strange looking beast. With
his wild eyes, badger beard and coat of many colours, he looks
for all the world like a mad scientist cum perverse serial
killer. On the surface, his dark poetry would confirm this view
but a little scratching beneath reveals a passionate and
tortured soul wrestling with deep- rooted fears about mortality
The man in the velvet mask Alain
English kicked off with his profoundly moving signature
piece 'Snakes in my ears, blisters on my brain'. He then moved
into new territory with a sequence of poems discussing sexual
mores. As with everything Alain does, these demonstrated his
excellence as a writer and also revealed his playful side but,
personally speaking, he is at his strongest when discussing
themes and ideas that are truly unique to him.
The Anti-poet returned with a welcome longer set of crowd
pleasers embodying the philosophy of the weekend in that they
offered something for everyone, from the pomposity-busting
‘Artists’ to the painfully honest ‘I hope it isn’t anyone we
know’. One of their newer numbers is ‘Random words in a random
order’ which is aimed at poets who don’t know how to self-edit,
or, indeed, clearly express themselves. No such accusation could
be levelled at Tim Wells whose neat, short pieces
effectively convey deep truths and describe the pleasure and
fascination of living in multi-cultural London in 2011. Finally,
Gerry Potter, rounded off the weekend with a set of rich
material, which included a scathing attack on Simon Cowell and
TV talent shows that cruelly seduce then exploit the deluded and
All in all, BardAid 2011 was a great success and demonstrated
that we live in a fantastic, creatively dense world, something
that fills me with great optimism. Here’s to 2012!
Review of Quaking
in my Stack Heels
By Ray Fox and By
‘Quaking In Me Stackheels’ by Paul Eccentric
Woop! I've just finished (reading) 'Quakin' In Me Stackheels'
and feel I may never quake again! What a splendid book! I shall
certainly revisit it again and again but have already picked up
some really useful tips. I actually employed some of the
techniques this morning when I had to give a 15 minute
presentation in a training session at work. I was well prepared
and for once I didn't experience the laboured breathing and bass
drum heart beating out of my chest that I would normally get in
those situations, so thank you for that. It felt amazing to be
Review by Ray Fox, MyWordRadio
Eccentric doesn’t know about performing you could probably jot
down on a bumble bee’s bandage. This is just as well considering
he’s just written a book on the subject – the wonderfully titled
‘Quaking in Me Stackheels’
The book is
primarily aimed at beginners, but more experienced performers
can also benefit from the advice provided. From preparation to
performance this book is neatly structured into a number of
helpful sections that assist in areas such as rehearsal,
styling, mic control, and handling an audience. The witty
anecdotes and engaging style of Paul’s writing makes this book
both informative and entertaining.
If you want to
know how to become rich and famous then this is probably not the
book for you. Paul rightly points out:- “…if you set out with
that as your ultimate goal then you are most certainly doomed to
eternal disappointment.” More importantly, Paul highlights the
importance of perfecting the basics first, and having a good
time while doing so. You sense the latter as he says he is
“bloody well enjoying the ride.”
don't claim to know anything about poetry; I'm not that widely
read in literature and the like so my initial thoughts when
cracking the spine of this book, was that of
complete ambivalence, with a hint of blank expression...
of course, was before I actually started reading it.
me wrong, I enjoy a majority of the poems that I come
across however; there was something about this one. As cliché as
it might sound: it is different (and I’m not just talking
about the fact that it has a few more pages than what I am
accustomed to). It is old but somehow modern, humorous yet even
pulls out emotion in all the right places.
aptly, sitting down to reflect on the book, I find myself sat
on a train, the 10:04 to Euston, and instead of the usual
mundane time warp into the city, since having read Gozzard's
tale of two travellers, I actually find myself looking around at
the usual avoidably grey strangers, boarding the carriage,
willing them to actually strike up a conversation. Not just
that but looking to see what my new train buddies really look
like; what they might do or have been doing, and
wondering whether strangers want to talk to each other
that essentially, this is how Gozzard draws you in. He makes
you consider your relationships with the unfamiliar people you
pass every day, and think about what it would be like if one
walked into your life (or onto your train), throwing out the
stereotypical commuter shyness (*cough cough* rudeness)
and took you away from everything.
After Cam (Mr
06:56) and B-ZEE (Rapper Extraordinaire) meet, Gozzard’s first
person style allows you to join them on their haphazard
voyage, a random sequence of events, that tie up...in the
read seems like it should, at any moment, take a Dallas-style
turn and all end up as having just been a dream (or at least,
that is my theory) but it doesn’t.
want to spoil the ending for you so I will just say, “Read
this book”. It will inflame any hidden craving you may have
to break away from your norm and might just make you look at the
unknown figure in front of you and say:
Morning, I believe the sun will soon be out".
So Paul I write to thank u and
praise u and generally say
That we laughed and shouted and
sang home and away.
The acts came on but it was plain
to see they weren't really acts but people like me
Liz laughed so hard it was
beautiful to see, cheering and jeering ....with empathy
For the girl who is gay and the
way you display .....she thought you
were one who took it up the bum,
but no and her surprise I could see
We laughed on the way and I
thought she would cry, for the pain she
inflicted on the woman she loved,
for the straightness she craved when she looked in my eyes
And the dumping and begging and
the moving on now.......
Its strange to behold how your
words moved our souls,
how we questioned and thought and
let our hearts fly
To the place of safety, that place
in the sky, where the spirit communes and blesses us high.....
if its all predained then why do
The bitches and bastards who
twisted us dry and left us to wallow and keep asking WHY
But now we are cured and we soar
in the sky, we know the secret, we pass it on by
So Paul, my dear fellow you all
touch our hearts, with word and music, rhythm and dance
I'm not beat, I'm not hip, I dress
in a suit, but my friend de la Bere
told me you're good, so I came
from the office as quick as I could
We dined in the Snug then over the
road, OVO beckoned so we knew you'd be good
So thanks dear poets, bard and
musicians, drop-outs and bums, you're all mind physicians.
.....And terribly GOOD :)
The above spontaneously and
inspirationally written while laying in
the bath at the Holiday Inn,
Manchester Media City.
Liz and I saw you last night at
OVO, back to hers to sleep then up at dawn to fly here.
Thank you Paul and all.
Pete the JMP.
Review of Rrrants in association with
Poetry Link presents -
Pete The Temp by Peter Woods
Rrrants in conjunction with Poetry Link
Review by Ray
Showcase at The Ovo Theatre,
Pete The Temp, Richard Frost, Ian Freemantle and The Antipoet
plus special guest Vikki Laxton-Bass
My second visit to the small
but perfectly formed Ovo Theatre was an absolute delight from
start to finish. Having had many enjoyable nights at Rrrants
events before, I was keen to introduce more of my friends to the
experience. This lovely little theatre has an honest,
cottage-industry feel to it; from the intimate auditorium to
it’s ‘living room’ style bar upstairs and with members of the
staff and production team popping up here and there to fulfil
various roles (a bit like a Carry On film)…you get that warm
cosy feeling from the minute you enter.
As host Paul Eccentric conveyed in his introduction, we would be
getting a little more for our money (already being spoilt rotten
for the very reasonable £4 entry fee). As a late addition to the
bill, first up was Rrrants’ very own roadie and regular
supporter, Vikki Laxton-Bass. Vikki is a relative
newcomer to performing, having discovered her talent for poetry
only recently. This was only her sixth public performance but
you wouldn’t believe it as she delivered three original,
quick-fire poems straight from the heart. With confidence and
humour, and just a hint of vulnerability, she opened herself up
to the audience through pieces dealing with such subjects as
sexuality, unrequited love and family values. With her
down-to-earth style, Vikki invited us into her life as she
bobbed along to her own rhythmical delivery, giving an admirably
assertive performance in daunting surroundings. A huge round of
applause confirmed that Vikki is a budding talent. Definitely
one to watch in the coming months and years.
Next up was the seemingly peace-loving, self-confessed anarchist Ian
Freemantle who, we’re reliably informed, has recently gained
the title of ‘The Bard of Stony Stratford’. Well-deserved but
reluctantly accepted I’m sure. You don’t have to agree with or
even understand the politics in Ian’s material (personally I
love it!) to appreciate his passion for common sense over
government spin and corporate nonsense. He’s always got
something important to say and it’s always something that we,
the everyday people of this fair isle, can relate to. Having
said that, I’m sure Ian would have no qualms performing a
well-aimed set at, say, a Tory party conference; such is the
courage of his convictions. Don’t be fooled into thinking that
it’s all finger-pointing, rock-throwing, government-bashing
seriousness however. There is a healthy dose of humour to
lighten Ian’s socio-political rants, as witnessed in a cracking
piece about recycling and the spread of the dreaded wheelie-bin.
It raised such a buzz of support and laughter that Ian’s
composure cracked and he was momentarily put off his stroke…a
stroke of genius as his wry smile revealed he knew he’d hit the
spot with this particular audience. The highlight of his set
tonight, for me at least, was when he brought his partner
Jess to the stage to perform a traditional clog dance as
accompaniment to a brilliant piece about the decline of British
industry through the last two centuries; others I spoke to
agreed it was hypnotic, original and moving. Poetry ‘emotion’.
Richard Frost takes to the stage. Not the Bard of Stony Stratford,
but maybe barred from Stony Stratford (I’ve heard some of his
more risqué pieces…) and originally from somewhere further
north, judging by his accent. Having seen Richard several times
before in different surroundings, I’m increasingly impressed by
his versatility. His good looks and rugged Northern charm always
win the audience over before he utters two words, but there is
substance and wit there too. Tonight Richard offers up an animal
themed segment, horses shoulder-to-shoulder with toads, via the
best in beat poetry. He lays down some pretty nifty bass lines
whilst his words roll out effortlessly on top throughout a
light-hearted set. This is lovely stuff. It gets even lovelier
when he is joined on-stage by percussionist friend Stuart, and
fellow Stony Stratfordian, Ian Freemantle on melodeon. Different
every time but always first-rate, he connects with his audience
and knows just how to pitch his performance according to the
venue. We, and The Ovo, like Richard Frost.
Brazenly straddling the interval, The Antipoet launched into their
set like the seasoned Rrranters that they are. Suited, booted
(and what about those boots) and sometimes hooted by the very
responsive audience, the boys pulled out some of their beat
classics, along with a couple of new’uns but this time with an
added gusto in keeping with the spot-lit surroundings of the Ovo.
Opener (and for me their signature piece) ‘We’re Artists’ had us
hooked from the outset and saw Paul Eccentric in a particularly
animated mood. With their gothic stylings and punk leanings,
their words spewed forth on a hot wind of passion and venom,
like the very Hounds of Hades straining at their chains (they’re
nice boys really). I’ve rarely seen them this fired up. The
cheeky ‘Foxy Copper’ had the grinning throng clapping and
‘nee-narring’ along throughout. Like a demented band leader
(what do you mean, he is one?), Paul conducted and coerced his
audience to ‘keep the beat’. Pulling off the throttle just a
little but with no less conviction, ‘Little Old Lady’ offered us
a shock gender twist as its author announced it was actually
about, or at least inspired by, a male family member. Come to
think of it though, it could be about a number of people that I
(and I’m sure many of us) know. Some of it certainly sounded
familiar and, not wanting to pour water on their fire; it is for
me rather a sad piece…..at the same time making the audience
piss themselves laughing. Back on the gas now for this diuretic
duo and into ‘I Like Girls’. It’s great to see the boys sparring
on this one. With Ian’s bass now set on phase for the second
set, together with their devilish delivery and leather-clad
posturing, The Antipoet submitted an atmospheric, almost phallic
performance. Beat that!
So, to tonight’s headline act Pete (The Temp) – ‘he’s a damn fine
administrator’ – who comes across like a young, crazed Griff
Rhys-Jones high on Sunny Delight. Pete is a bundle of energy;
lurching, flailing and marching through his incredible set. He
warmed us up with some inspired call and response, then
immediately had us all stomping and punching the air through his
‘mutant pedestrian’ piece, our combined voices chanting ‘I stamp
my feet on the…pavement’. From that moment on we were in the
palm of his hand, all inhibitions a thing of the past, and we
would do whatever he asked. And that is how to enjoy Pete the
Temp; get involved, go along for the ride as he sprays the front
two rows with sweat and spit…his ‘holy water’. He also treated
us to a couple of his winning (or losing) Anti-Slam pieces which
are performed in character and are side-splittingly funny. A man
of many faces and voices. His David Cameron parody, Cameron-Cam,
was frighteningly realistic and at the same time truly acerbic.
His political satire was nicely off-set by some hilarious
musical interludes. Pete lampooned popular songs, hymns and TV
themes…it’s not often you hear a grown man belting out the
Bodyform advert in public. Pete is an accomplished performer and
very adept at promoting himself without breaking his stride or
losing his audience, in fact his self-advertising effortlessly
became part of his act.
There was one thing in particular that was still buzzing around in my head
then next day…Pete’s uproarious rendition of ‘I Could Eat A
Rabbit’ to the tune of the Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘I Predict A Riot’. He
could’ve gotten away with just one chorus but no, he did a whole
bloody song, by the end of which we were all happily singing
along. Well done Pete! I predict a long, fruitful career…and I
don’t mean as an administrator…
Antipoet – Tights Not Stockings by Jim Sutton
This one was not served to me cold
– I approached with some anticipation following exposure to the
live monster that is The Antipoet at a gig in the Midlands (they
really are an impressive turn).
The pieces here patrol the
demilitarised zone between spoken word and song, staring beadily
(and occasionally baring their arses) in the direction of both,
yet always highly approachable. The words are written and
largely delivered by Paul Eccentric and the music provided in a
funky, greasy minimal guise by multi-bassist and vocal
chipper-in Ian Newman, with discreet percussion additions by
recording engineer Mark Gordon. The subject matter ranges from
the (surely by now, chaps, distant) recollections of school
days, statement of sexual identity, the eternal battle with the
tradesman of 'Blah Blah Blah' to what is clearly a big downer on
religion ('The Happy Sinners', 'Holy Moses'). Eccentric never
once pulls his punches, but it's all delivered with wit and a
lightness of touch which leavens the frequently dark subject
Personal favourites – they start
with the bookish but swinging astro-existential “1420 MHz”. Then
there's “Help Me, I've Been Kidnapped” in which the protagonist
realises he is no longer living in the world he once knew, the
tasty chordal bass part of “I Need To Know” recalling the fuzzy
intensity of John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett, the possibly
sugar-induced paranoia of “Zombies On The Common” and of course
the red-faced and breathless sleazy paean to lechery and pervdom
that is the title track.
Hear this as soon as you can.
Better yet – go and see The Antipoet live for the best night out
you'll have for months. Ding dong!
From a review of the
Wolverhampton Midlands Poetry Slam,
recently seen at the Buxton Festival , visually combine the
fetishwear of Marc Almond with the braggodocio of Adam & The
Ants, yet aurally offer sharp poetry fromPaul Eccentric
supported by the double bass of Ian Newman. They are unique,
funny and hugely enjoyable, as was the evening as a whole. Not
your regular night out in Wolverhampton I suspect.
Review by Paul Edwards
of Attila The Stockbroker
at The Camden Eye
on the 17th November 2010
I see that
rrrants welcomes reviews of its gigs by members of the audience.
Ordinarily I'd leave that to the professionals, but on this
occassion I felt moved to offer my twopennyworth as a warning to
others who might be tempted to buy a ticket to see the formerly
fantastic and inspiring Attila The Stockbroker.
him as he was in his glory days and not as the sad hypocritical
parody of himself that he has become. I saw him twice on this
his 30th anniversary tour and went from mildly disappointed at
the first to embarrassed by the second.
as a reasonable audience at the start of The Camden Eye gig
halved instantly when Attila pushed the compere aside while he
was listing the evening's support acts, grabbed the mic and told
the crowd that if they weren't there to see him then they should
fuck off now or he'd throw them out himself.
promised to hit anyone who talked through his set. Normally i
might have agreed with the latter comment, but the once
principled and professional old man of the rant then turned his
back on the stage and proceeded to talk loudly through all eight
of the other acts sets! He was rude, obnoxious, threatening and
bullying toward the bar staff and the rrrants crew and keen to
show his utter disdain for everybody who had turned out to see
him. And then he performed. I saw longtime ATS fans walking out
as he slurred his way through his vaguley remembered set and
sang off key to a poorly tuned instrument. He showed his
antipathy toward the organisers by getting so drunk that he
looked like a geriatric wino doing Attila karaeoke. Very few
stayed the course and of those who did, I wonder how many will
turn out to see him again?
still shouting at people when I left, casually destroying any
good memories I had of his early career. Attila The Stockbroker?
Attila The Cock.
Bard-Aid in Camden - An Excerpt from the Blog of Helen
Bard-Aid is an organisation
that raises money to provide poetry books for secondary
schools, and last night's gig was organised by Paul
Eccentric, a member of the Rrrants Collective.
The gig lasted all day, and was held upstairs at the Camden
Eye, a pub that is negotiated by pushing a channel through
the sea of pissed young people that swarm around Camden Tube
station at weekends.
Up the steep stairs that are hemmed in by nattily-tiled
walls, the Kissing Lounge hosted a warm and friendly crowd
who lounged on an assortment of odd chairs, jumbled together
in a peaceful end-of-Saturday bonhomie.
I found a corner to slot myself into and listened to the
quirky jazz of Paul's band (Sly
Quip & The Quickwits) , which sounded like a cross
between ABC (except Paul has a much nicer voice than the
frightening warbling of whats-his-name) and Michael
Garrick's band (he was a 1970s oddball English jazz
bandleader whose vinyl recordings currently command
phenomenal sums on eBay). I liked their music; I am very
fond of the alternative universe and this band would not
have been out of place in the bar in the original Star
Wars film (above).
It was my turn next, and the head-turning Green Gretsch
turned heads; I loved the audience, who were a perfect mix
of ages, styles and smiles. One group was noshing their way
through their tea (chicken and chips out of polystyrene
containers). Other supped pints of lager or drank cans of
Red Stripe. It was hot and sweaty, not good singing weather,
but I abandoned my miserable songs and sang the uppy songs
instead. People tapped legs, fingers, and I was told, bums
along to Loverman.
This was probably my favourite gig in terms of atmosphere
and audience this year.
I also have invented a new way with set lists- a paper
luggage label tied to a machine-head of the guitar.
It does the trick brilliantly! You don't need to bend down
to peer at the floor, it's there at the end of you guitar
neck ready for you to refer to or ignore as the mood takes
you. You could have a selection, with different set lists on
Lovely gig, and thanks to Paul for inviting me. It is nice
to feel appreciated at a gig!
Salami had a good night too and I am looking forward to
being on the bill with him at the 12 Bar on the 23rd August.
I had wanted him to play at one of my nights of new songs,
which I had to abandon because people got cross when I
didn't invite them to play (it was one night, and I was
planning more, and the cross people were going to be invited
to play, but I got put off).
The other Rrrants events look good: I will certainly be
going along to another.
Review of Ant
Bertram Trotar's -
The Fools Of Love
Edinburgh Fringe Preview
Sunday (25th July 2010) was a hot and sultry night in trendy
Camden. I use words like ‘trendy’ because I’m getting on a bit
now and I experience a kind of awkward awe around vibrant young
things wearing nose rings and clothes that look like they’ve
been through a blender. However, in the packed, and steaming,
upstairs room of the Camden Eye I felt right at home amongst a
bunch of glorious eccentrics occupying various points on the
chronological age spectrum, and all wholly and deliberately
indifferent to the conventions of age. There were awkward young
geeks giving vent to insights beyond their years, and old
geezers waxing lyrical, satirical and sometimes outright profane
about lurve, York and their mammies.
Though the event was mainly to preview Ant Smith’s Edinburgh act, the
plethora of supporting poets were wonderful - shocking,
refreshing, touching and hilarious. The assortment of acts
included a guy with two hats (Alan Wolfson), a former extra on
Byker Grove (Tony Hickson) who held a peculiar grudge against
York, a guy (Ernesto Sarzale) spouting forth on invisible
lesbians and what to do when you find a belly button in your bed
(delivered in what can only be described as the only appropriate
state of dress for the weather), and Alvin Colvin whose mammy
had something against breastfeeding. My personal highlight was
Sophie Cameron. If Tracy Emin wrote poetry…well, she’d be a lot
more pretentious than this straight forward Yorkshire lass. In
my personal view the frank, sometimes poignant and often
truculent relationship a woman has with her own undercarriage
just hasn’t been eulogised enough in literature. Sophie remedies
this in the only accent that can do justice to such a life-long
and earthy relationship.
But the main act was Ant Smith and his partner Bertram Trotter, doing
their Edinburgh preview (The Fools of Love). I’m one of Ant’s
groupies so have seen him a few times now, but for those who
don’t know his particular personal style it’s rather like being
savaged by a rampant, naked id. He communicates from the centre
of his savage soul and it’s not pretty, but it is inexorably
sincere. His ferocity never fails to blow his audience into the
corners of the room like autumn leaves. Freud would have a lot
to say about it. But bugger Freud.
For his Edinburgh gig he has teamed up with Bertram Trotar. An unusual
coupling - the latter’s style is gauche and foppish, a perfect
counter-point to Ant’s style. But this coupling turns out to be
perfectly suited to a fresh treatment of the theme of love. If
you’re hapless in love you’ll love Bertie Trotar. If you’ve just
been dumped your raging heart will find solace in Ant’s rants.
And if you’re in love and sickening everyone around you then
you’ll be pounced on to play the couples game, and thus given
the opportunity to either ruin your relationship or inject some
much needed reality into your pink cloud.
As it happens I’m going to be seeing this in Edinburgh too – 23rd
and 24th August (Banshee Labyrinth). I’d wholly
recommend it for anyone who’s around then.
have to be cool for Rrrants poetry, you just have to be ready
Review of Bard-Aid at the Poetry Cafe,
By Danni Antagonist
....Introducing us to a night of poetry and punk rock, Paul
Eccentric kicked off the evening but was very quick to usher on
the first act, which established a pace and energy for the night
which didn’t falter.
First up was
“Captain of the Rant” who ditched the microphone for his
rapid-fire dressings-down of internet social networking, Estate
Agents, and women’s magazines. Similarly irrepressible was
Sophie Cameron, billed as the family favourite and, a force of
nature as ever with her onslaught of finely executed filth.
a word, the charismatic Mat Lloyd’s performance is always
confident but never cocky, and his pieces on bank managers and
prejudice are simultaneously acerbic and heartfelt.
in the Poetry Cafe does deserve a mention, as by this point I
was incredibly uncomfortable on the cheap plastic chairs, which
somewhat blighted the evening for me.
back my attention, Alain English launched into a phenomenal
performance of the autobiographical “snakes in my ears”, edging
his already dynamic and warmly impassioned style up another
notch. His poems are always intricately crafted and flawlessly
struggles to strum a clean chord belie her incredible wit and
fudge-sweet voice. She started with her latest offering, “AA
Man” which benefits from a more measured pace than some of her
more established numbers. She always raises the roof, and
tonight ends on the singalong “Weirdo”, which managed to set the
Paul contributed a (new?) piece on the joys (ahem) of aging,
followed by Vinnie Gibbons. Vinnie’s barbed “Sole Trader” is
smart and very dark, with his characteristically underplayed
wit. And his “Heston Blumanthal” was scathing and hilarious.
was Ant Smith. Now there’s no denying the jet-engine vehemence
of his bellowed works, but in a small space with uncomfortable
seating it’s a bit too intense for me!
With the bar
and the volume well and truly raised, The Antipoet launch into
an established set, ending on the deliciously naughty “Tights
blue eyes of the dashingly dishevelled Ed Tudor-Pole, fix the
audience with a maniacal stare. His bluesy rock style is
impressive, but his goading of the audience to dance seemed
rather uncomfortable in this stiffly-seated place. Also, both
his vocal mic and his guitar seemed to be overdriven, making
some fantastic music a bit painful. However, Ed is an incredible
player and utterly charming performer, which more than
outweighed these problems.
on being called “not a punk” raised the issue of truth and
artifice, very suitable for a poetry gig! Tearing up the
rule-book, what a great thought to go home on after such a
strong night from the Rrrants stable, where there is variety of
everything, except for effort and passion. And every performer
did themselves proud on both of those fronts. Bravo!
RRRANTS replys: Agreed
re sound but the room is not designed for the full punk
experience (Must give that guy a bigger venue!)
Review of Philfy Phil's
We've waited a long time for
this. Philfy Phil is a living legend and his many fans around
the globe have been demanding hard copy of the man's material
But translating a live act
onto any form of stored medium can be a risky operation. A
straight live recording; however professionally captured, will
usually sound as if it's lacking something and it is: the
atmosphere of the event itself. Similarly, hearing what is
essentially a live act turned into a slick and overly produced
glossy product can be an equally disappointing experience for
the artist's original fans.
Philfy Phil is a live
performer. While his lyrics are exceptionally clever and funny,
the real genius and charm of his act is in his live performance.
A collective breath was held
at Rrrants when Phil announced the arrival of his debut CD.
Would it live up to the sheer hilarity of his shows? Would it
work as well without the parody maestro's obligatory corpsing on
final approach of a punch line? Would it sound better or worse
if his guests had rehearsed their backing lines before
Phil has produced is the perfect compromise of the live v studio
debate. This is a studio recording, but he has wisely chosen to
eschew the trappings of too much faf'n polish and gone for an
accessible, no frills adaptation which instantly evokes the very
best of his live shows! Phew. Coulda' gone either way there, but
like i said before, the man's a genius.
George & Dragon, Chesham,
the perfect choice of entertainer, wherever and whatever the
occasion. I truly believe this!
lost count of the number of times that I've seen her perform
over the past year, from pubs to libraries; festivals to canal
boats and I have never known her fail to storm an event. Having
studied her act, I'm putting it down to the fact that as she
stands up to the mic, tonight with that ostentatious red satin
and velvet fifties dress, red hair, pink be stickered guitar and
the mischievous grin of a five year old whose just learned her
first naughty word, only four of us in this packed venue have
any idea what's coming next. Nobody is expecting this sweet
little girl to rhyme 'vibrator' with 'chronic masturbator' nor
sing them a song about how desperately she needs to pee, and all
with the most perfect comic timing and subtlety of delivery.
the wry little looks to camera; it's the innocence of that smile
despite the fact that she's just said fuck at a children's
party; it's the total lack of an ego whist retaining a confident
stage charm; it's Sammy, once again trouncing everybody else on
the bill with her. See to believe!
Review of 'The Odd Eccentric'
'The Horns - March 2010'
the crowd watching the band set up their instruments is in
itself a sight to behold. 9 members of the band edge around one
another on a tiny stage as they set up an electric keyboard,
guitars, a trumpet and saxophone stand, the double bass is put
to one side and mics are set up for the 2 backing singers and
the lead singer (Who has the biggest pair of cymbols i've ever
seen). Needless to say there is little room for manouver. yet
everyone manages to wait their turn politely to do what they
need to do to ensure their ready for the nights entertainment.
this with the fact that some of the band members live in places
like Bournemouth, Brighton and Cambridge means that rehersals
are far and few between, it makes you realise that what you are
about to witness is nothing short of technical genius, and thats
before anyones even actually played a song.
Eccentric. How would one describe this particular ensemble of
musicians. Its almost like trying to describe colours to a
blind person, if you haven't heard any of their music its
difficult to explain just how different they sound in comparison
to anything else out there. Each song has its own style yet sung
and performed in a way that ties the whole set together.
Different and unique yet alluringly familiar. Monday the 15th
of March was the first time I had ever heard any of The Odd
Eccentric and instantly I knew I was a fan. The lyrics are
brilliant the melodies are catchy and drive you insane for days
afterwards when they wont get out of your head. Basically if
you ever have a chance to get along to one of their gigs. I
would do it without hesitation. You'll never be the same again.
This I promise you.
Review of: Mervyn Cooke's
'O Derry Boy'
by Paul Eccentric
People write poetry for as many different reasons as there are
poets in the world. Some write to exorcise demons, some to
express a viewpoint. Some do it to charm their readers, while
others set out to shock. Mervyn follows none of these paths, but
his passions are equally as valid. 'O Derry Boy' sets out to
capture a lost moment in history; a hitherto forgotten time and
place that most of us will never have experienced; a harsher
time, yet a time afforded a seductive allure by his evocatively
wistful reminiscences. Is this Mervyn's childhood in twentieth
century rural Northern Ireland or is this a magical dream world
that only those with true poetry in their souls will ever visit?
You'll have to buy the book to decide, but before you do, spend
an evening in his company and let him tell you his story in the
accent that matches the pictures.
Review of 'from the outside in' CD by SuperPennie. (£5 from the
There is an
easy warmth to Pennie's oration that makes me feel as if i am a
part of this conversation; drawn into her narrative like a
co-conspirator sitting with her in a private booth of a back
street pub: a true one-to-one audience experience. She's talking
to me, and although i'm from a different time and a different
place, i feel as if i'm there with her I was privaleged to
witness her first live performance of some of this material back
in April 09 and i felt the same way then, even though that bar
was far from intimate. 'Isn't she happy' and 'pictures flicker'
have haunted my conscience ever since. This isn't my mind, but
for the duration of this disc it feels like it should be. Pennie
is a master of conversational storytelling. Let her take you
into her confidence as well!
at The Camden Eye
31st January 2010
Video highlights of this
event can be found at
Get Your Ass to Camden
Pronto! Sunday 31st January
What can I say? I hardly have
lungs left to breathe or pants that aren’t soiled. I am sending
my dry cleaning and health bill to Rrrants for fucking me up. OK
I didn’t have to pay for the evening and apart from the fact
that it was the best evening’s entertainment in the whole world
this is a recession and my briefs were expensive. I could use
massive words and poetic smooches to try and re-fashion the
night before your very eyes, like a sleazy attempt to wank at a
long gone shag marathon, but the end product will undoubtedly be
Live poetry of this quality is a
rare and beautiful (notice I didn’t say sexy) beast. The
audience poised - mouths open and hearts laid out for treading
on, the poets full up with words and aggressive lunges, I cannot
express to you the explosion in ones brain when poetry becomes
more than just dead verse on the page, but true physical full
frontal expression, right from the epicentre of human humanness.
One day I will switch on my telly
and see the anti-poet, Ant Smith, Rob Auton, Philfy Phil and the
other man that I can’t remember his name, as he didn’t look like
he was going to be any good but in actual fact he was amazing,
on the screen and I will smile. I will smile bloody big as it is
fucking about time. These guys are genii and if I have to take a
used copy of Shakespeare’s complete works into the BBC and set
it on fire to show them that then maybe I will.
at The Camden Eye
31st January 2010
Mervyn Cooke Video highlights of this
event can be found at
Take an intimate setting, the Camden Eye,
avec les francais, perched eyrie-eyed above the Camden
thoroughfare, a garret full of garrulous poets and musicians
and you get yet ANOTHER RRRants star show.
lia Avroutine –
always delivers a solid set , Lada like in his durability, even
if the place name poetry had us all guessing --poetry is indeed
a strange language -why not have in Russian?
– shock and awe – what can I say – Sophie? what can I say ?– is
there a column in the Sun or the Daily Star for you?
captivated us with his acrobatic interpretation of the Ian Drury
classic, Billericay Dickie, His words danced the taut acoustic
tightrope as we swayed from side to side with his re-telling of
adolescent sex in the back of the Cortina, ramming her hymena…oh
the night was worth it just to hear that one song!
And a hard act
to follow admitted our Lesser Spotted Derry Wordsmith, Mervyn
Cooke, shades of Heaney, shades of Hughes, words hewn from
the heart.. “ Very poignant , very humbling “
commented a fellow RRRanter.
No notes, no props, no idea how Rural Ireland
1950-1960’s would appeal to the younger audience- there are
universal themes of love and loss, toil and tenderness that
touch all our heartstrings. Watch out for the next gig , a
unique rendition of Ted Hughes ‘ February 14 th – a lamb
could not get born’
the Shamen of the North – strode Gandalf like, Noggin the Nog
and foretold the future, a King Arthur of the Northern Line –
God could I do with that pair of oven gloves he wore! ..100%
inspirational and original.
Robert Auton is
the poet sniper among us – he picks us off with his tales told
through the prism of the absurd. Very creative and delivered
with verve. Pizza Poetry –what’s your topping?
Ant Smith –
shock and awe too! – I was gobsmacked!
Philphy Phil ––
the troubadour, the wandering minstrel of the shires, the
ballader with cheer…tongue in cheek – we love it!
And finally Poeterry – nervy in
preparations, his words slide of the page like the lavish women
he lusts after, oily and willing all over.
And there you have it a unique mix of the
avant-garde, the luscious and the lavish – you get what is says
on the tin , Rhythmical, Ravings & Rants. Catch it again on
the 31 March at the Goat in St Albans.
at The Etcetera Theatre
28th January 2010
My brother had a punk compilation
LP called ‘20 of Another Kind’. I’m sure if you looked at side
1, track 8 under a microscope, you would notice much more wear
and tear to the groove here than on any of the tracks on that
That track was ‘Gary Gilmore’s
Eyes’ by The Adverts. I didn’t really understand the lyrics but
to a gangly 13 year old they were suitably sinister and
Some thirty years later, Ant, my
husband, asks me if I fancy going to see TV Smith in Camden.
I pause.....Never meet your
It’s Thursday 28th
January and we head to the Etcetera Theatre above the Oxford
Arms, Camden. We are greeted by the lovely Donna who could be a
shampoo model and makes us feel like old friends. In fact, the
atmosphere was of an intimate party full of fun, sweet, anything
goes characters - Rrrants events are clearly about
The evening begins with the
Antipoet - a double-bass/vocal duo that performs a far too short
set of wickedly funny and brutal satire. I can’t really compare
them to anyone else but the piece ‘Artists’ is bugging me as it
reminds me of a track that was continually played on Annie
Nightingale’s request show in the ‘80s and I can’t remember the
artist or the title.
They are followed by the
sartorially elegant Terence whose confidence in his dress is
sadly not matched by confidence in his material. The rhythms of
the words sound great but because he seems afraid to project I
can’t get a clear grasp of his message. Shout up Terence mate –
we want to hear you!
Rachel Pantechnicon is up next.
Goodness me, she is fantastic. I can’t hear all her jokes and
cracks as I’m laughing too much but, for me, the highlight is
her children’s book about the lion with cheese grater legs - I
am bent double and gasping for breath when she reveals the cover
So, finally, TV Smith takes to the
stage. He is a bouncy, grey-haired chap who wears his place in
music history with pride. Considering that many of the songs in
his energetic, acoustic set were written when he was a teenager,
there’s no navel-gazing angst or cod-intellectualism but pretty
sharp and well-constructed lyrics. During the set he makes a
mischievous comment about Iggy Pop starring in the adverts and
then before I know it we’re at the penultimate song. The hit.
Ok, it’s an acoustic version but that doesn’t matter, he sings
the quite strange melody in the chorus perfectly and, all of a
sudden, I feel tears streaming down my face. I am so relieved
that I am not as bitter and world-weary as I thought when a 30
year-old (plus) song about a murderer can still affect me.
The night is over. TV Smith is
stood at the end of my row chatting to Donna. I want to gush
effusively but I’m covered in teary snot so I shuffle out of the
little theatre on a beautiful high.
Review of "Splat That
For anybody who has ever regretted buying an
album on the strength of a solitary hit single, Jammie Sammy's
'Splat That Spider' should rank as a welcome antidote. If, like
me, you have already become addicted to her Youtube smash 'The
Kitkat Song', but were not expecting her to have a whole album
of catchy, sarky and laugh out loud funny, yet nod'n wink
poignant songs up her brightly coloured sleeves, then think
again! 'Splat That Spider' is a studio recording of her infamous
2009 live set, which although benefitting from the odd
overdubbed backing line and a sharper vocal mix, still manages
to retain the raw edge of her live performances. Every track is
classic Sammy! I quite liked Aberdeen when i went there, but
then i didn't grow up there and i now know why they hounded her
out of the city! Buy it from the rrrants shop priced £5 with £1
from each disc kindly donated to Bardaid! Go Sammy
Eccentric Jan' 2010
at The Etcetera
28th Jan 2010
Etcetera Theatre is a small, compact, cosy
little venue which fills you with a sense of
comfort in a homely fashion, this was to be the
stage for which the first Bard aid event was to
be set. It looked more like a little mini
cinema, you're almost expecting there to be an
interval with ice-cream. Poeterry was first up
on the bill for the evenings entertainment.
Anyone who has seen him before will be familiar
with his mastery of words. He just keeps going
from strength to strength, he did some old
familiar pieces and threw in some new material
for good measure. Dressed to impress its hard
not to make a lasting impression with both words
Following Poeterry was the wonderful Antipoet.
I could happily listen to their pieces all day,
a mixture of humorous and thought provoking beat
poetry, 'Hypothetically Speaking' being one of
my new favourites of theirs. Their set was over
far too quickly, but you couldn't lament for too
long because they were quickly replaced by the
wonderful Rachel Pantechnicon.
Rachel has an eclectic variety of poetry, often
accompanied by visual props which compliment her
words very well. I enjoyed her tale of
Cheesegrater Legiron Lion, and the Quetzalcoatl
hotwaterbottle cover was a very odd poem yet
highly appealing to the the ears. Her presence
on stage was a delight and I hope to see her
perform again very soon.
came the headline act. Having seen T.V.Smith
perform a number of times over the years I
couldn't help but feel excited at the prospect
of him performing at this rather cosy little
venue. As expected the gig was indeed compact,
which allowed him to play his guitar unplugged
which contributed to the intimate feeling of the
evening. A pure delight for a T.V Smith fan
such as myself, he played old favourites such as
Bored Teenagers and Generation Y not to mention
the obvious Gary Gilmour's Eyes. He seemed to
enjoy it just as much as those in the audience.
and my husband had a wonderful night out and
left feeling warmly content at the level of
entertainment we had witnessed. Anyone who
missed this gig really did miss out on a lyrical
treat. This was fucking Ace!!!
Video highlights of this
event can be found at
at The Camden Eye
8th December 2009
I must admit to having seen
the mayhem that this band or merry miscreants can wreak once
before, and to have being hooked upon that singular
exposure. The Rhythmical Raving and Rants collective
(delightfully pronounced with a roll of the tongue as
rrrants) are mad, bad and dangerous to know. So it was with
the delight that only a naked terror can induce that I
hauled myself down to the Camden Eye on Tuesday the 8th
I’d gone there to perform,
amongst a collective that counts in their number the likes
of Attila the Stockbroker and Rachel Pantechnicon. I was
sure, I would die of a Tuesday (rip. Stan Laurel). But this
group is welcoming, open and genuinely friendly. Safe to
say, I had a hoot. Safe to say, so did the non-performing
members of the audience.
An intimate little space the
upstairs of the Eye, or so it seemed with a good 50 or so
packed in there. It could so easily have ended in revolt,
but for the formidable boots and marshalling commands of our
MC and anti-poet, Paul Eccentric. He set the tone from the
off with his call to arms to take bad language poetry into
schools. In a world where kids face the dangers of stabbings
and shootings on the street, this mission is more important
than it is crazy. The range of performers gave testament to
that. Free speech pushing boundaries in the healthiest of
It’s always tough in a review
to pick out single players, so unfair – but to give a
flavour of the night – we bore witness to the one open-mic’er
of the night Mr Dan Cockrill. Host of the Bang Said The Gun
night reading from his Pie and Papier-Mâché
collection. We heard Jammie Sammy’s delicious Kitkat song,
Philfy Phil’s tongue twisting Al Qeada Leader, and Danni
Antagonist’s requiem to dust and ashes. There were of course
many, many more. A scintillating mix of styles, themes and
There’s a veritable plethora
of poetry nights around in London right now, but rrrants
sets itself apart. It’s unselfish (er, I mean free of
charge), unjudgemental (I mean free of speech) and just
damned HOT (I mean happening, totally happening)
So how was it for me to
perform? Probably not fair to say in my own review! But you
can check it out for yourself on
Video highlights of this
event can be found at
twisted tales for sinners'
(Available now @50p plus p+p. See her link on the
who says that they haven't, at some point in their lives, shamelessly
indulged in all seven of The Deadly Sins is a bloody liar. But how many
of us have allowed our thoughts to linger long enough in this avaricious
realm to ponder each and return with the clarity of mind to compose
seven deadly poems on the subject? These sort of themed collections
often run out of steam once their authors realise that it isn't actually
that easy to come up with an interesting and unique take on each item of
a specified hit list such as this, but Danni certainly knows her sins;
whether through personal experience or innocent postulation is up to her
readers to decide. This is her third short collection. We wait for
RRRants. The Watford library
12th November 2009
Review by Heather Merrison after her first ever performance in
I found last nights gig to be really
intellectually phenomenal. The RRRants company are by far the most warm,
laid back and profound performers ever. Not to mention hilarious, I
haven’t laughed so much in a long time. They made me feel really welcome
like part of a very large weird, wacky, wonderful and talented family, I
was quite nervous about making a mistake but I quickly learnt that all
cock ups were embraced with laughter and light heartedness, nor did I
think I’d ever find a place that I felt like I belonged, I couldn’t have
been more wrong! I felt more at home with the RRRants group than a child
in a 3 story sweet shop. They have something really amazingly special
that I don’t think you would find with another performance company. I
would love to perform, grow and learn with RRRants for as long as
they’ll have me.
Wendover Library 8 October 2009
arrived at Wendover library expecting to see the regular and engaging assemblage
of vaudevillians that gather for an Antipoet performance, but goodness,
was I surprised. Before me sat an audience looking way out of their
comfort zone as two rock stars stood either side of a Stand-Up-Bass
preparing to perform. I soon learned that the audience were a local
writer’s group who were most likely expecting an evening of genteel
poetry reading followed by a question and answer session, but to their
horror, found they had inadvertently booked a Rock-n’-Roll band. Take it
eyebrows rise, jaws drop, and bemusement dissolve into total engagement
as Paul Eccentric, an accomplished performer with a touch of ‘attitude’
about him, delivered his perfectly written observations with just the
right mix of anger, angst, irony and pathos. Alongside him, Ian Newman,
whose magical bass playing floats out notes that entwine, caress and
when called for supply a powerful counterpoint to Eccentric’s words.
This evening The Antipoet’s collective genius wove a magical dance,
showering the audience with unique sensual delights; sweet, light and
some beautifully dark.
the audience I thought had had their perceptions of ‘creativity’
deconstructed in an instant. I could see though, they were hugely
entertained and some I noticed moved by the experience. Invited to
operate in a different world of consciousness by The Antipoet
experience, the group had been offered exciting new possibilities and
unlimited creative horizons. I’m sure they will take up the challenge.
Sir Lobby Lud
At The Cock in Sarratt, Herts, 27th of July- reviewed by Nobby Thorts for
Poetry In Potions' magazine, issue #6 summer 09
Leading the vanguard of
1930s kitsch revivalism is Watford's own, Sir Lobby Lud.
Surely it is time that we saw a return to ukulele based pop?
Lobby seems to think so, and after being transported back
through a hookah smoke portal to an English seafront pier in
1933 by his anachronistic melodies and halcyon lyrics, I'm
forced to agree. These were the days when popstars were cravat
wearing gentlemen who knew how to dress, had proper diction,
wouldn't even dream of smackin' their bitches up and sang
sanguine dittys about custard creams and wireless sets. But is
it poetry? It is if i say it is and i do.
'And isn't that the
Basswhore on loan from The Antipoet slapping some feisty
rhythms, adding a new dimension to an already damn spiffing act?
Review of The NakedPoetryFestival',11th
& 12th July 09 by Fawn Kate for KultureShock.
Fifteen poets in
three venues over two days. The first annual RRRANTS
NakedPoetryFestival was a storming success!
From the cramped and sultry confines of Covent Garden's
iconic Poetry Cafè, through the rock concert excesses of the
Marquee stage of Boxmoor's Music On The Moor Festival to the
bawdy barroom blitz of The Horns in Watford,
RRRANTS did what
RRRANTS does best: promoting an eclectic mix of straight and
comic poetry to an equally diverse blend of punter over a
variety of different venues.
Each of the three shows forming the core of the festival gave
it's audience a unique smorgasbord of heartfelt emotion, comic
observation and surreallist weirdness.
Tears flowed throughout the weekend, some from empathy, but
others from humour. If you haven't caught a RRRANTS performance
yet, then get yourself to the next one!!
Review of 'I Taste The Rain' by
Artwist. Published by Captain Eagle in Toronto, Canada,
I have respect for anyone who can convey their musings and their
observations in such a way that the result can transport their
readers to another time and place. But to be able to do this in
two totally disperate languages as Russian and English takes a
special kind of poet!
Artwist is that man.
I Taste The Rain takes the reader on a journey from one culture
to the next, told through the eyes of a Canadian educated
Russian now living in England. For the full experience, find the
man himself and hear him reading it in the accent that fits the
POETERRY at The
Maltings Arts Theatre, St.Albans, 20.5.09 by Jim
WET AS A
saw Poeterry's live debut at The Flint Cottage in High Wycombe
exactly one year ago would be astounded by his recent form. No
more the shy fumbling heckler fodder of those early open mic'
performances, the Poeterry that supported the great Francesca
Beard at Wednesday night's Oral Cabaret is now a bubbling
cauldron of rhythmic passion and Caribbean soul. From his
opener, 'My Dad', the heartrending story of the three words that
he was never able to say to his father, to the flagrant sexual
imagery of 'Untitled', (though I think it should be called
'Masterpiece'), his current 'love' set will undoubtedly leave
you "as wet as a fish tank"!
'DEMO TAPE' BY MAT LLOYD
2.4.09 - ISBN: 978-1-4092-6270-1
book is entitled 'Demo Tape', a knowing nod to the fact that
Mat's words are written to be spoken aloud. But that's not to
say that his poetry doesn't work on the page. In fact,
particularly with pieces like 'This Town' and 'Blokes Poem',
there is even more to be gained by seeing the stories laid out
in front of you. The pieces in this collection are more than
just poems. They read like individual novellas; tightly crafted
short stories cast with characters that you are bound to miss
once their tales have been told. It's a dark dystopian dimension
that they inhabit and then you realise that it's the real world
and you're living it too. Mat wants to make poetry cool, but
with this book we think he could raise those expectations and
make poetry rule!
April 1, 2009 - Wednesday
Review of Rrrants at The
Bell - Princes Risborough - 21st March 2009
Following our successful RRRANTS
debut at Covent Garden's Poetry Cafe in January, our
second standup poetry event took place on Saturday the
21st of march at The Bell in Prince's Risborough, bucks.
This was only the second time that the venue had
attempted live entertainment under the current
management and a brave choice for a pub more used to Sky
sports and bridge evenings. It was, however, an unlikely
With contributions from RRRANTS
stalwarts, satirist George Stanworth; punk poet Dave
Wallis; and compere and beatranter Paul Eccentric, the
event also featured the British debut of Russian
Canadian poet Artwist, and the heart wrenching
observations of Gill Wallis, who brought a tear to more
than one unsuspecting eye.
The evening was
headlined by Gloucestershire's laureate, the multi award
winning Peter Wyton and interspersed with musical parody
by the inimitable Filthy Phil. ...Bass rhiffs and sound
control were, as ever, provided by the bass whore
himself, Mr Ian Newman.
We all had a fantastic time and
hope to see you at our next gig. Check the Events page
for up to date details on who will be performing.
Rrrants Fairness & Respect Policy
The Owners of Rhythmical
Ravings & Rants' operate a strict anti bigotry policy for
individuals work, but at the same time are firm advocates of
free speech and the right to reply. We do however reserve the
right to make a decision about submissions to this forum based
on our own opinions and will remove inappropriate content,