Mike Garry - Apparently this is the fifth year of fellow Mancunian, Mike Garry opening for John Cooper Clarke and it takes less than a minute to see why. Garry is a poet as well and although I am sure his poetry makes for good reading, his performance really needs to be seen so that the poems can fully come to life. As he explained at one point, 'don't try to get it, just enjoy the sound and the voice'. Good advice and it worked perfectly with this performance, which had a mixture of upbeat and downer themes put together with humor and engaged transitions. The audience enjoyed his set and although it was a fairly small crowd in this big club, there was a good atmosphere set for the rest of the night.
John Cooper Clarke - or rather Dr. John Cooper Clarke thanks to his 2013 honorary doctorate from the University of Salford. Clarke is from Salford (right next to Manchester) and has been an essential part of the Manchester punk scene since it began. All the more remarkable, as he is a poet, not a lyricist, although that does not stop him from breaking into singing 'Capitol City' from his favorite TV show, the Simpsons. But of course, his poetry is performance art as there is music and rhythm and speed in his reading is still wildly entertaining, as it has been in grungy punk clubs and beyond. It kept my mind and body at edge the whole time as his words are so powerful, you really have to stay active to pull it all in. It's an invigorating performance for all. He varies the tempo, especially with his many interludes including stories, audience repartee and straight up jokes (he could easily be a stand-up comedian). Classics like 'Beasley Street' and its sequel along with newer poems are performed tonight, as well as a two-line poem (he explains he is a rhymer and can't do it in one), and Haiku poems. He credited Gary Snyder for the Haiku and getting him inspired to write poetry, well, Gary Snyder and Bullwinkle J. Moose in the old TV spot, Bullwinkle's Corner. I loved every minute of tonight's show and it really gave me a sense of completion as he referenced two of my favorite television shows, along with displaying his great humor, deep disturbing themes, great poetic art, and great personality. I particularly love the great art that can bring in all these seemingly disparate elements, and make sense out of it all. John Cooper Clarke is a treasure.
Quote of the Night: Actually anything these two guys said qualifies, so go to the show next time and take it all in. But I'll leave you with Mike Garry's topical quote for my blog... "Anyone been to a real shit club? ... I think that's the most rhetorical question in the world."