Thursday, 30 June 2016

That's What She Said | Barbara Nadel, Sophia Walker, Ngaire Ruth

That's What She Said @ The Book Club, London

Taking part in a billing of spoken word at For Book's Sake monthly event, That’s What She Said, is altogether different to reviewing a music gig. I always attach myself to other people's hopes and enthusiasm, now I was partly responsible for providing said quality emotions.

Things are so strange right now host, Paul Forster, has been instructed to remind the audience that this is a safe space.

Barbara Nadel’s  spoken word was in effect her relaxed, and probably many times told story behind the trigger for becoming a crime writer, over 25 good reads at the last count (Quercus Publishing). She was a professional working in a mental health institution, and her words tonight put many things in perspective for this already intelligent and mindful audience; both interesting and unsettling. She started and ended with this nugget, about her beginnings as a writer, in a perfect round-about way with spooky punch line, which now resonates like a good story ending: When someone hears the tale of a gruesome murder and says “They must have been mad to do it." It’s not true. They’re more likely to have been sane.  @BarbaraNadel

Take 2. Sophia Walker has the amble and image of Kate Tempest.

She’s already taking the personal into the political realm, using a dancing combo of joy and anger, something that means she can’t keep still, even though currently lame. It’s proper poet stuff: to have new material written based on current events that have both horrified and touched the world. Orlando is Sophie’s opening theme, the piece still on her phone. She apologises for being unprofessional but in this case, I think it’s honourable – spouting her mouth off about things she’s working out for herself, right there on the stage, always lyrical and looking right at us. This includes her panic about the Labour part split, increased racism, and the whole world’s predictable, yet now more terrifying, impatience with anybody different. If that isn’t enough, she seems to have a lifetime of experiences to share as well: Is she immortal? The background stories to her poetry are mind blowing, because she has worked all over the world in war torn countries. Apparently, when a revolver is pointed into your back, your first thought will be: Wow. That’s warm. @PoetWalker

I like to think I’m real, even though I'm a music critic. In the words of Lisa Simpson: It’s hard work being this fickle. I’ve worked as a lollipop lady, a cleaner, a full time classroom teacher, Lives Editor at the girls are, now teaching undergraduates. I’ve paid to get in to gigs. Helped put a psychopath in prison. Raised a confident, funny young woman. I can tell you what I wrote last week – Fire, Feminism and Fun, Morning Star, 22nd June – but anything for which I’m better known, such as seeing through the 90s at Melody Maker music paper, is a glorious blur. Am I a better writer today? Sure. What am I doing? Having an excellent time dining out on my music journalism days, flexing my performance muscles and indulging in my love of the human race.  Back in the Big Smoke.

This came from the opportunity to contribute to Rejected Unknown’s 101 Albums To Die Before You Hear, an idea and collective put together by the infamous Everett True, former Melody Maker Live Editor. I got the brief from the writer Lucy Cage: What classic albums don’t you like? Why not? No negative rants, at least without flair and facts. Delicious! I wanted to submit things that had previously been “in the trunk”, written with nowhere to go. In the end it was childhood memories of pop music and the rise of the transistor radio, triggered by my pondering over the word 'authenticity', that produced the piece I'm most proud of, and finally shared tonight, Hot Hits Vol. 2.

What I have discovered recently, when reading my writing aloud – which is thanks to 101 Albums To Die Before Your Hear and having a reason to be there - is my sense of humour, or timing, and the joy of performing. It's alot of fun kicking a dead man when he's down; and the sub-text to my complaint is not bad either (Frank Zappa, The Mothers Of Invention, 1973). I have found my voice. (Fifty-five, ladies and gentleman.) It's perfectly OK to stop and enjoy this important personal milestone, but really, I wouldn’t have expected other people to be so willing to join in. @NgaireRuth

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