Thursday, February 18, 2016

Outspoken, 26th January

I go to these spoken word nights and I always think, well, it can’t be better than anything else I’ve seen. But Outspoken knocked my socks off.

It has an excellent blend of music and spoken word and could be just the replacement for Poejazzi I was looking for. (Though I know it has been going four years already so shouldn’t be a ‘replacement’ as such).

I think the first half was the stronger half, starting with a slot earned by a performer at their open mic night who launched into an indictment on the way the media reports murder sprees/terrorism as he recounted his killing bonanza that turned out to be a dream, knowing he’d be reported as just ‘having a bad day’ because he is white.

So the start didn’t exactly pull any punches and so it continued with Nasima Hanif doing several pieces (sometimes with musical accompaniment – different) which centred on the theme of womanhood, especially from the perspective of being a Muslim. She meandered through abuse at home, sexual awakening and the very funny ‘Guide to telling your parents you are dating  a ginger, white atheist’. Fairly hard hitting but also humorous enough to keep it palatable.

Which is something I really like about spoken word done well – it can be humorous, yet more often than not it really makes you think. Most of the acts this night did just that.

Andy Craven-Griffiths followed this up with pieces primarily inspired by his thoughts on Kindness.

There were three musical interludes – the first, Chagall, a solo act who provided her own backing singers and backing music via these programmable gloves (mi.mu if you’re interested). Only two people in the world perform live using these. Some of the songs were straying a little too into Enya territory for my liking, but some of them had a very dark pulse that had my body moving. Of course it was very heavily electronica based.

The other two musical pieces were more traditional by comparison – an instrumental piano performance from Kamar (one of the hosts) and then the evening ended with Royce Wood Junior doing the singer-songwriter thing to piano, and then doing a couple of covers on guitar – one soul number, and one Prince. He had a beautiful, high, RnB type voice that was soothing to listen to.

It was my first Outspoken, as it was for the Meetup crew I took with me – all leaving trying to figure out if we could make the next one (which is on the 23rd). I am always wary when a night is so good. Can they possibly keep the quality that high every month? Were we just lucky to come on a night when they knocked it out of the park? The fact it has been running so long assuages me somewhat that it was not a fluke and of course I am happy to test that. We shall return...

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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.