Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tongue Fu, 27th March

From the ridiculous Bright Club to the sublime Tongue Fu. 

I expected a similar format to Poejazzi or Bookslam - some spoken word type stuff and then some music, not for the two to be intermingled with each other, creating an absurdly brilliant night, that managed to somehow transport us back to the beat generation. This was in honour of the current exhibition of photos taken by Warhol, Burroughs and Lynch, from which our performers took their inspiration as to which of their pieces to perform. 

Two guests and Chris Redmond the organiser, treated us to some of their magnetic, emotive, funny and sexy spoken word poems, all set to music improvised by the Tongue Fu house band according to the beat or style set by the performer.

We were enthralled. Visuals added to the atmosphere, and evoked the sensuality or moods of the poems, and by the second half almost everyone was sitting on the floor as if it were a massive sit-in – of appreciation rather than protest.



First Chris kicked it off with a challenge - the audience shouted out three disparate styles of music for the band to mesh together (I think we had calypso, blue grass and cha cha) and over that Chris 'rapped' a welcome message. 



Then Toby Thompson took to the stage. This guy was, unbelievably, only 19, a fact only given away by his arms occasionally flailing about in the way young people who are a bit gangly do. His words though were much older than his years, such as pieces on missing a lover – imagining an absent toe to stroke – and then another one taking us on the best ever festival experience.



We then had Salena Godden, the doyenne of spoke word (I have been trying to get to her Book Club Boutique for an age). As she took to the stage with cool ease it was obvious she had not only been doing the spoken word thing for a long time, but had participated in Tongue Fu events before. 

We had a brief break during which we browsed some of the photography, and then we came back and did it all again, in the same order. Salena closed the show – after performing my favourite of the night 'Dear Winter' where she explains to Winter why she just has to break off the relationship she's been having with the season in favour of another – Spring, she brought the night to a close by freestyling a poem! Magnificent. 



Everyone in my group enjoyed it – we felt like we had witnessed something special (though no doubt it is always like this) and that maybe this was what it felt like to be a part of that beat generation – having your eyes opened to something you hadn't experienced before. 

If this has piqued your interest then you can catch them next month at Udderbelly

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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.