John Cooper Clarke, The Rose

Evidently John Cooper Clarke at the Rose Theatre John Cooper Clarke in Kingston – the ‘punk poet’, who cut his poetic teeth opening for seminal punk bands like The Fall and The Buzzcocks in Manchester in the 70s. Quite apt then, that the support for ‘The Bard of Salford’ should come from Rhythm & Muse, which specialises in mixing poetry and music and who organised the night with the Royal Borough of Kingston.

The first part of the evening’s entertainment began with LiTTLe MACHiNe, a trio of well-seasoned musicians who skilfully set poems to music. Starting with William Blake and moving through T S Eliot, Phillip Larkin and a catchy rendition of William Carlos Williams’ Red Wheelbarrow.

Next up was RackerJacq – premiering the collaboration of flautist Jacqueline Hynes and former UK Grand Slam champion Racker Donnelly.  A grand juxtaposition of transfixing playing set against the sparkling jacket and wit of Racker, whose poems are roaringly funny. In particular, Smoking: “You could knit a rug out of the fug” –amongst many other standout lines – left the audience crying with laughter.

All good preparation for the main event – and John Cooper Clarke is an event. Once seen never forgotten, with the comic timing of the finest stand up, he is poised, rapier sharp, rapier thin and funny as ever.

Cooper Clarke deals in words, many of them of the four letter variety. He is refreshingly outspoken and genuinely irreverent and he does a great line in perfectly rehearsed gags. His update of Beasley Street, Beasley Boulevard, is spot on. He said onstage that he wants to return – I will keep my ‘pit cushion’ at the ready.

Lucy Furlong