Razz runs two nights in London, one in the Poetry Cafe in Betterton Street in Covent Garden, the other in Tottenham at Chances on the High Road.
I was invited to play a floor spot last night, which was a welcome relief from the week's packing and clearing. On the way, I went to Rough Trade East to try to stock them up with copies of Suburban Pastoral and was just walking in their door with my guitar when I realised I was queue-jumping and that the shop had been given over to a gig by some trendy band or other. So I had to abandon those plans and wait till another day. It was funny to experience the excited rustling of the people waiting outside, some of whom obviously thought I was The Band (or at least, With The Band!).
The Poetry Cafe is a snug little caff with blond floorboards and quirky tables and chairs recycled, I think, from bookshops. One of the chairs had 'Puffin Books' stencilled on its back. There are free postcards so you can send a friend a poem.
Many of the poets last night had had brushes with mental health issues, and a lot of the poetry was very moving. There was a guy there who was autistic and who sang a song about how people see him: 'You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same'. I admired him for performing like this as I have a nephew who is autistic. He also had a really good singing voice.
Sybil was there, with a clarinettist whose playing swooped around her terrifyingly perceptive poetry and took it to another level entirely. Her poems are anger-driven dramas, darkly funny, like opening a bottle of pent-up truth and watching a Genii explode into the room and curl around the rafters malevolently.
It's quite shocking to be able to have a perfectly normal chat with her afterwards.
Ingrid Andrew read some of her warm-hearted poetry and played a song, and The Children (a very English-sounding duo whose music I really like) premiered a song based on an Old Testament story. Amorel, the singer, has a hugely powerful voice that she uses subtly and rhythmically. I think she's the best female singer I've heard this year, and I've heard a lot!
In between this, there were poets debuting their new poems, and Razz held the lot together good-naturedly with his own music and poetry.
Oh yes.. I played too!