When I saw three of my favourite poets (I have a top ten, what of it?) tweeting about their upcoming tour, I was pretty psyched. Tim Clare, Mark Grist and Mixy, all in one gig?! Score. Maybe I’d even get to meet them afterwards, and I could detail all the things I loved about various poems of theirs. Anxious the place would be packed and I wouldn’t get a seat in the private room of a Trafalgar Square pub, I emailed ahead and asked if I needed to book tickets.
As it turns out, no. When Jonathan and I rocked up ten minutes late, we were the only people there. Other than the three nervous and embarrassed looking poets, that is.
It was a little awkward. Though I was stoked to get to meet them, the elephant rampaging around the room couldn’t be ignored. I’ve heard of intimate gigs before, but this was something else.
After reassuring the panicked poets that a twosome was a perfectly valid audience, another two couples showed up, to everyone’s relief. Tim Clare apologetically started the night off, and begged us not to feel like this was some sort of bizarre hostage situation.
Clare described his set as “sort of like watching a poet have a breakdown”- with loud couplets ringing in our ears as he bellowed out his Beckett-esque “Death of Charlie Wordsworth” and faux-slurred his way through “Pub Stuntman”. Witty and quick, I have to say my personal highlight was his Women of History rap, video below. I never thought I’d hear a bearded man impersonating Thatcher tell me to “Do your own ironing”…
Mixy, the youngest of the trio, did a set that was surprisingly sweet. I really wish I’d caught his charming ode to insanity- a love letter to Syliva Plath- but he intertwined the preamble and poem so effortlessly that it took me a moment to realise that it had begun. It was a gorgeous and lively account of the relationship he wishes he could have with madness, and if you ever get a chance to hear it, please pay more attention than I did. His letter to Amy, a girl found in chain-nighclub Liquid, is equally as charming.
Mark Grist’s set echoed his past as a teacher, a lyrical school visit. His poems run on nostalgia and humour, with revealing letters to odious history teachers and children’s stories about dirty pirates. Like Mixy, his poem on the soul-crushing chain-club Liquid also got a mention, where he impersonated (all too well) the creepy LAD that graces every Tokyo, Liquid and Tiger doorstep and fondles inebriated girls every weekend. Funny and all-too familiar, Grist closed the show on a high.
As a whole, the show was fantastic. It really was the ultimate cosy gig, and felt more like sitting in someone’s living room than the centre of London. I’d started the evening out feeling kind of sorry for the poets- a free gig in the busiest city in the UK that attracts a grand total of six people must be tough to swallow- but by the end I was pretty smug about the set up.