(Bleed reporter Peter Whitfield with the future Mrs Whitfield, Carrie Riley, at Trashed Organ, Live Theatre, 11 March).
Trashed Organ and Live Theatre present…
Part of FUSES: Live Lab 2012 New Writing Festival
Two nights of inspiring poetry and music perfectly served to accompany your coffee or whisky, 11 & 13 March at Live Theatre.
Review: Trashed Organ, 11 March
By Peter Whitfield
On 11 March, Live Theatre’s Undercroft played host to a menagerie of the region’s finest poetic heavyweights and musical titans, a collective of Newcastle-based performers known as TRASHED ORGAN. Hand-plucked especially for Live Theatre’s FUSES: Live Lab 2012 New Writing Festival – a nine-day extravaganza of explosive and unique voices from the North, the line-up promised much and delivered more.
Arriving at the Undercroft, there were no seats left (a good sign for the quality of the show, but bad for me), leaving me propped up against the entrance like a goon. However, it did provide me with a clear view of the first act, Emilie Bold, a French/Newcastellian singer, songwriter and guitarist. From what I could hear of Emilie’s voice, (from my slightly withdrawn vantage point), she was very good. Consisting largely of four chords and a loop pedal, the simplicity of Emilie’s music was complimented with spare, soulful lyrics expressed through smooth and entrancing vocals.
Radikal Queen came next, a performer who very nearly jaded the entire night for me unfortunately. Radikal’s name presumably comes from being an indignant, outspoken revolutionary of the soul, (although she really isn’t any of these things) who still manages to immaculately pronounce each line of trite rhyme as if it’s designed to suck the life out of you one iamb at a time. It was enough to scare some of the audience away, freeing up a seat or two. The content of Radikal’s poems seemed sound enough, exploring important subject matter in a meaningful and effusive manner, but the passive aggressive presentation style seemed melodramatic and unnecessary in my opinion. Every time she read a page she would drop it on the ground. Significantly. Masterfully. Radikally. I just didn’t get it.
A feeling of growing self-consciousness and claustrophobia had ebbed its way into the room, and I started to worry that Radikal Queen’s performance would be the benchmark for the rest of the night. It wasn’t thankfully. Just a minor blip. Instead Radikal was followed by Bob Beagrie, a multi-award winning poet sporting a Superman t-shirt and half-serious smile. Bob delivered his poetry with umph, pizzazz and tongue-in-cheek lyrical brilliance. Much of this was accompanied by music, which added depth to the already vibrant images evoked. A reimagining of Picasso’s Night Fishing at Antibes was the jewel of the set, growing in otherworldly intensity as its two brothers compete to impress the ladies.
Then there was a break. Avoiding the enigmatic ‘Trashed Organ Cocktail’ which was rumoured to contain enough whiskey to tranquilise a horse, I stayed seated and watched in horror as The Box came round. The Box in which everyone had to surrender one line of poetry. On the spot. Fun, in a sadistic kind of way. The Box went a long way in explaining why the night took place in front of a jury of peers.
After my submission was folded up into the tiniest fragment imaginable, Cara Brennan floated onto the stage. A flowery and talented afficionado of origami cranes, fruity alcohols and delayed train journeys, Cara’s poetry was probably the most reserved of the night, charting spare, evocative moments in a style that felt almost like professionally touched up photography. I want to give particular praise to ‘The Silent Room’ which gets three thumbs up as my personal favourite of the evening.
Penultimate performer Kate Fox on the other hand burst onto the stage in an air of bubbly, energetic and refreshingly adjectivey goodness, after casually ripping on Cara for being too artsy and metaphorical. Kate proceeded to ridicule all the highness out of high art with an undertone of ‘Don’t take it personally Cara, I’m only joking (but not really)’. The set included an iPhone ukulele solo, a rundown of audience-related statistics and a critical contemplation on the line: ‘Can I shower you in my hot cum?’ I’ve since revised my original message to Kate and am awaiting a response.
Finally, Adam James Cooper ambled up and started doing something with his guitar called ‘lap tapping’, a technique which sounds like, and to some extent, is, musical masturbation. Like pulling open a grand piano and rubbing yourself up against its insides until it makes a satisfied crooning sound. I’d seen Adam before, performing with Matt Stalker and Fables, though in all honesty I much prefer the solo act. Technically astounding, complex and emotionally authentic, I wouldn’t know where to begin picking fault.
The last stomach churning event of the night involved a reading of the lines from The Box. To music. Every last one. There were some laughs, some cringes and some moments of sheer admiration, which pretty much sums up the entire evening for me. A ’Trashed’ triumph.
Photography (c) Jonathan Parker, Spurious Nonsense Photography.
For more information about TRASHED ORGAN go to: www.trashedorgan.co.uk