Friday, 13 April 2012

Heart & Lung Unit, LVPO, Soho (4.4.2012)

A visit to the Heart & Lung Unit might well be a place you wouldn’t normally want to go to, but the treatment on this once a month night is comedy and music, and the prognosis is a bloody good time.  I’d found out about this event having met one of the organisers Glenn Guest at a Spoonful of Poison gig.  Glenn liked my poet loops mix enough to invite me to come down and play his night, and although I normally only play London on the back of work, this invite sounded like one not to be missed.   I booked a cheap ticket on and found a shit hole of a B&B for thirty quid and was on my way, though I nearly didnt get there.

Let the chaos begin!

After weeks of beautiful sunshine, on the day I was due to go to London, it snowed - BIG TIME!  I looked out the window in the morning and there was a foot of snow on the ground and the traffic had all but stopped.  This was after two weeks of glorious sunshine.  I could hardly believe my eyes, or the bad timing, but I understood the way these things work – from chaos comes order, and after a few hours the gritter lorries sprung into action and the commuters had all turned round and gone home, so the roads were clear.  The show must go on.

Some hours later I arrived to a warm welcome at the upmarket LVPO just off Shaftsbury road with my pal Buck Theorom (phot right).  Buck is a talented writer and musician who plays in a number of bands including Lunar Engine and Book of Buzz.  Buck and I had arranged to do a one off musical collaboration and worked out a track whereby I would produce the live electronics, and Buck would come up with the words – all without a rehearsal.  It could all go horribly wrong, but I like that kind of risk, when you’re not quite sure what will happen next, as per my recent experience at Manchester's Hotch Potch.

By the way, while I think of it, here's a link to Buck's book:

Heart and Lung takes place in the basement bar which is a small space into which a friendly audience had gathered by the time I'm on the mic.  It’s a bit of a musical first for me as this is the only time I’ve taken the whole kaoss rig down to the big smoke.  I got the loops coming out of the loops and the poetry followed.  I played ‘Here come the words’, ‘Good year for the spiders’, ‘The Smells of London’ and ‘Disappeared Friend’.  Then Buck joined me for an improvised ending with something that had never been played before, and it worked surprisingly well.

Now let me tell you this, London can be a tough gig for outsiders, and I’ve played some of those gigs, places where the beautiful people gather and they don’t want their lovely ways polluting with the likes of me.  Superficiality reigns supreme and performances are judged by the latest fashion or who is present in the room.  Places where the performers are consumed by the desire for fame and frozen by the fear of it.

Thankfully, the Heart and Lung Unit is not one of those nights, just like the wonderful Spoonful of Poison, it has the feel of an all embracing environment where the variety of acts on offer are wide ranging and hand-picked for quality, and an audience willing to give anything a listen appreciate the difference, appreciate the openness, and even appreciate the moments when everything collapses into chaos and improvised madness.  I guess what I’m saying is, I couldn’t have asked for a better audience than the one me and Buck got on this night in London.

Buck and I are followed onto stage by Russell Swallow & The Wolf, a classy acoustic two piece combining electric piano and guitar.  Unfortunately, Buck and I missed the first half of their set on account of getting hugs from a cowgirl in the back stage area.  Ant Smith follows with some in your face comedy and poetry that challenges any delusions you might have had that this was a middle of the road sort of a night.  Glenn (who is also compere for the night) describes Ant as a marmite poet/comic and he's right about that judging by the deeply mixed response to his set.  Catherine Paver (the friendly cowgirl) plays some unique songs about horses and throws in some effective reverb for good measure, and then paradies a Kate Bush song (see picture left) about the frozen North, but doesn't mention the snow.  The dinner party rapper The Duke!! Duke Hancock combines jazz backing tapes with pieces of comedy spoken word such as "The Revolution will be Available for Download!" and to finish Eccentronic, described by Glenn as a lunatic couple in shell suits, take us through a set they are working on for the Edinburgh fringe.

The formula is a simple one at the Heart and Lung Unit and it comes in the shape of 3 bands, 3 comics for 3 quid, and the night has the feel of something that is evolving into bigger and better things.

No comments:

Post a Comment