North Wall Arts Centre
Fri 10th April
Tonight’s entertainment was composed of two discrete parts: a performance poetry routine and a gypsy-ska gig. This rather strange coupling is, I think, explained by one of the poets being the lead singer in the band, but one act bore no relation to the other. And just as the two differed in content, so did they differ in quality, for though the latter was a good bit of leg-stompin’ fun, the former amounted to an unfortunately damp squib.
Let’s get the bad bits out of the way first. The Bold ‘n’ Spiky Poetry Show was a combination of performance poetry and stand-up comedy, where two (possibly intentionally) odd-looking characters ‘explored’ issues like love, sex and war through stand-up poetry. Our performers, possibly because they themselves felt the poems rather weak, kept interrupting themselves with little stand-up routines and jokes. These were, I will admit, quite funny in places, but it grated that they started off their performance with a routine taking the Mickey out of poetry shows in general. First off, making fun of performance poetry is like shooting fish in a barrel. Moreover, in this context it smacked rather of biting the hand that feeds. The overall impression was exemplified by the little picture on the flier for the show which showed the two performers standing cheek to cheek, one with his tongue out, through a fish-eyed lens: wacky, zany, edgy… forced?
Inflatable Buddha was a marked contrast, being a clever, genuine and all-round-fun performance. The four piece band, using a variety of instruments, regaled the audience with some leg-shaking good music. The style was potent brew of gypsy-ska, with a dash of klezmer and a twist of cabaret thrown in for flavour (it’s not as odd as it sounds!). The distinctive, light and accessible music was accompanied by natural and good-hearted stage banter which, in an amazing display of audience manipulation, managed to get people of their seats and dancing in the aisles. I’m sure you will all agree that that is quite an impressive feat.
All in all, I was very glad to see Inflatable Buddha, who offered an agreeable end to what was a rather weak first act. In fact, I found myself thinking about one of their tunes this morning.