Live review: Writer’s Showcase
Thursday 12th July, 2012
A word of advice to anyone thinking of starting a new event – stay clear of Thursdays. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with this day of the week, it’s just that there are so many other events taking place the same night. On the night in question I could have gone to the acoustic night at San Tracuba, or open mic at Harbour Bar, or Scarlet Tone’s showcase (now relocated to Format), or The Orange Show at Brink, or the acoustic night at the Head of Steam*, or… well, you get the picture. Of course, sometimes organisers aren’t given a choice by a venue, in which case it’s take it or leave it. I don’t know if George and Rob had a choice of night, but I ended up on one of my very rare free nights out in town at Hannahs Bar for the launch of the new fortnightly Writer’s Showcase.
As I arrived just after 8.00pm Muzanda had just started. This was a duo – two young guys, one strumming guitar and the other picking out the melody. Apparently they’re new to the scene, and it showed at times, but they were obviously having lots of fun with tunes such as the Peanut Vendor Song and Spanish Harlem. The Spanish straw hats certainly helped to set the scene with their style of music. Their two guitars went through a small amp on stage that was more than adequate.
Next up was Ralph, The Penny Lane Poet, whom George came across when he met his as a stranger on a bus. Ralph was very witty, and entertained the audience with poems about supermarket trolleys and mermaids (not in the same poem!).
The night is billed as a showcase for musicians, poets, and anything else, so it was no surprise when Paul Smith was the first person on the night to grab the microphone for a spot of comedy. He should have been joined on the night by two more mirth-makers but they bottled out. Maybe it was the venue, maybe the smallish crowd, or maybe the fact that it wasn’t a comedy gig, but the two other comedians penciled in on the running order must have had second thoughts and rubbed out their names. Smith wasn’t daunted by the challenge, however, and did a fine job with what was, by any standard, a difficult crowd for any comedian. Some of his prepared material fell a little flat, like his ‘being ginger’ segment, but this was buoyed up by his rather fine spontaneous comedy, such as his ‘conversation’ with Liz in the crowd, and his observations about the picture across the back wall. @Paulisthejoker is the regular compare at the Hotwater Comedy Club – why not check him out?
Andy Pink is a name I’ve heard round the scene but this is the first time I’ve seen him play live and I was really impressed. Despite the music bleeding up through the floor from downstairs and through the open staff door from the room next door Andy decided to play his acoustic guitar unplugged and sing without a microphone. I needn’t have worried as he totally carried it off, playing with incredible confidence and style. His songs were engaging, and he connected well with the audience too.
Simon Mckelvie was next to take the stage – one singer, one guitar, and a bag of nerves, which weren’t helped by a lot of chatter at the back of the room as a few new people arrived. Simon’s guitar playing was technically good, but his voice was far too soft to go without a microphone, and having his eyes closed half the time didn’t help either. His songs had a sort of prog-folk-rock sound to them, with plenty of diminished chords, and after the fourth song I’d personally given up interest in listening, as Simon’s music started to blend into the music from other rooms.
Tony Kehoe was squeezed in as a special guest, and couldn’t have been more different from the preceding act. Here was a man totally confident in his ability as a performer, singer and songwriter, and whereas he also played unplugged and unmic-ed it was noticeable that people were listening and watching his performance. Tony had to cope with the post-10pm rise in volume too, as the band kicked off downstairs, but he wasn’t fazed in the slightest and simply adapted his playing style to compensate.
Ralph, The Penny Lane Poet, returned for one more poem, this time one about being positive in life, which got a big cheer at the end.
The final act of the night was Thom Morecroft, who was joined on percussion by Christophe Cousineau. By this time the band downstairs was really pumping out the sound, but unfortunately there was a problem with the upstairs PA system and Thom was forced to go unplugged. Not that it mattered, as Morecroft put both his powerful voice and his feet to good use, as he decided to leave the stage and move amongst the crowd to perform – you can’t do that when you’re plugged in! Thom makes new fans wherever he plays, and with top-class songs such as The Boy Who Cried Munich, Daisy, and (my personal favourite) Holly, it’s really no surprise. Unfortunately, squeezing in an extra act meant that Thom’s set was still going at 10.50pm when I had to leave. This was disappointing as the event was supposed to finish at 10.00pm and I had really wanted to catch the whole of Thom’s set.
On the whole, the first Writer’s Showcase was an enjoyable night. It’s not the only event out there that mixes music with poetry, and occasionally comedy and other performance arts (Come Strut Your Stuff, anyone?), and a new night like this takes time to build up a following and to create its own identity. But it’s abundantly clear that the organisers Rob Gough and George Eleady-Cole are passionate about what they’re doing, and I wish them well. They’ve already got a number of musicians and poets booked for the next event, and I’m sure they’ll have the PA sorted by then too.
The next Writer’s Showcase is on Thursday 26th July, starting at 8.00pm. £3 on the door. You can keep up to date with the artists booked by joining the facebook group
UPDATE – Spring 2013: This event has moved to Vinyl on Lark Lane and is now called Pros and Coms. It’s still every other Thursday. Full details from the facebook group (link above).
© 2012 Graham Holland – Liverpool Acoustic
*update: Ascension Thursdays at The Harbour Bar has been replaced by an open mic night. Greedy Jesus can now be found on Thursdays at Lomax and elsewhere, and you can keep up to date here. Also, thanks to those of you who’ve pointed out that Thursday’s Barcelona Bar open mic no longer takes place.
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