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Review: Mostly Spoken at Newcastle Cumberland Arms

Mostly Spoken: A Monthly Night of Spoken Word and Music
Newcastle Cumberland Arms
Thursday 28th July 2016

This was the second evening of spoken word and music under the Mostly Spoken banner. In the cosy upstairs bar of the Cumberland arms people gathered to listen to music and poetry while enjoying a bit of companionship and refreshment. It had a bit of a “salon” feel and the juxtoposition of music and spoken word definitely created something greater than the sum of the parts.

First on the stage was local singer-songwriter Simma with the unbelievably talented Matt Jackson on second guitar. They played three songs from Simma’s most recent album Lychnobite: Happy New Year (to be pushed as a festive release later in the year), The Drink (an ode to the familiar demon) and the funky Voodon’t (a deep south delta blues number). This performance from Simma was intimate and full of feeling and was a great start to the night.

Mandy Maxwell was the first spoken word artist of the night . She performed pieces about “Little England” (the madness of Brexit),  the joy of swearing, misleading “contagious headlines” and a poem about her mum’s sacrifices to her daughter’s development.  Mandy is very warm and engaging even when she’s swearing like a trouper, rude words sound so much better with a Scottish accent I think.

Aidan Clarke had a very different style, a delightfully surreal about lobsters celebrating winning the vote for Thermidor was another reference to Brexit. He also spoke about the power of rejection: get on with it and say no, don’t leave us hanging! His poem about “empty nest syndrome” could only have been written by someone who had watched 5 children grow up and move out.

Bernie Christie added a delightful musical interlude with her slightly folky original songs about love and dreams. She has the most beautiful voice and I look forward to seeing her with Simma again at the Acoustic Circus event on 8th September at Newcastle’s City Hall Concert Bar.

Charlie Reay dished out some marital advice to someone marrying someone she’d never met, in her poem inspired  the book Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. Charlie’s poems were about love and relationships and very much from the heart.

Photo: Stephen Oliver
Next on the stage, fresh from Glastonbury, was “doorstep poet” Rowan McCabe. After a successful run of poems produced from knocking on people’s doors and asking them what was important, he could give us the resulting poems. Rowan has definitely been trained in the art of projecting his voice as the mic was often not needed. Doctor Dave was a poem about a doctor whose liberal approach to advice could maybe be questioned as just not firm enough to be effective. Cool Girl is a statement about how Rowan wants to bring up a daughter who knows her place in the world- is anywhere she wants it to be. I think he’d make a great dad.

Kate Fox closed the night with her poems about how the North would respond to an apocalypse. She performed an ode to the child she will never have. Kate was on the TV recently on Sunday Morning Live discussing how childless women may be discriminated against. It’s a personal matter to have or not to have children and it shouldn’t affect how people view you. Her piece about the Female Bodyguard is particularly important in these days of body-shaming and self-loathing because you don’t fit the template. Kate continues to be an important northern voice for feminism.

Future Events:
Mostly Spoken will happen again every last Thursday upstairs at the Cumberland Arms with new and familiar faces from spoken word and music taking to the stage.

Tickets for August onwards: £5 available from link to appear on Mostly Spoken’s Facebook event.

Twitter: @mostly_spoken

This review was written by Joanne Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

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