Sunday, 26 February 2012

Bristol Acoustic Night

At last I got to Bristol Acoustic Night! The much-acclaimed, long running, and positively legendary acoustic evening at the Halo Cafe Bar in Stokes Croft, Bristol. I feature it regularly in Spoken/Written, have heard so much about it, always meant to go, but things kept cropping up, until at last, this half term, with a day and a half free, and one of those being a requisite Monday, at last I was free to go! Stokes Croft itself is an interesting area - so covered in graffiti that I wondered if it was a partial legacy of the graffiti festival which I'd heard about? There were a couple of images signed Banksy, and some very colourful pieces, some pretty clever at angles to trick the eye or reflecting the street, and one near a large crossing that looked as if was probably wonderful from a distance/the other side of the road, but the 'bigger picture' was, quite literally, not available close-up. It either looked (the whole area) terrifically arty or like a vision of street gang apocalypse! However, the trendy bars and stylish boutiques and shabby chic charity shops gave the lie to the latter and underlined the former. We found an especially comfortable cafe bar called The Social, with red leather sofas, fairylights, exposed brickwork, solid wooden tables and fantastic coffee, with free biscotti - some of the best I'd had, full of orange and lemon flavours.
   Then it was time to head on down to Bristol Acoustic Night, and the Halo was a smart restaurant/cafe/bar, with quite a large lounge at the back, where the Night was held. It had tables and chairs, and sofas as well, a well defined stage area with black backdrop and logo poster, professional PA and its own sound technician, reliable mikes, ambient lighting, and generally I could see at once why it was so well known. A great venue of good size and ideally equipped. Introductions and compering were done by Andi Langford Woods and Julian Ramsey Wade, with great aplomb and flair. The latter punctuating the proceedings with some heartfelt performance poetry including a very fine love poem at the end. Andi was charming and he and Hazel Hammond the tattoo poet ended the evening with a comic duo dialogue poem story. Acts were of a very high quality, but I must just single out Luke Blake and Guilia, the latter an excellent guitarist and the former with a really lovely voice, Hokkers a very talented singer/songwriter with a great vocal range, and Pink Sniper, whom I was rather surprised not to have come across before as he was a deadly political performance poet. Great performance, had presence, and the work was fantastic - blow after blow of sophisticated and punchy analysis of pop culture problems and attacks on mainstream notions with unremitting accuracy and thoughtfulness all wrapped with quirk, truth and terrific delivery (from memory of course). Just my cup of tea. And I agreed with him too!
   The Stand Up Philosopher gave a brilliant set - Foucault's History of Sexuality Vol. 1 condensed into under ten minutes, and it went down extremely well - he had some lovely comments, not least from a guy who said 'That was brilliant - I don't know much about Foucault, you must tell me in the interval.' And when I came back from the bar in said interval, they were indeed deep in conversation! Also Luke Blake (doing a PhD in - performing arts? and philosophy) said it was the 'most perfect expression' of the combination he'd seen. It was superb and the video is up on the 'Withywheel' YouTube Channel (the channel for all artists from the Cartwheels Collective).
   I did a sequence from a poetry performance called 'The Maze of Love' and it seemed to go down well too. All in all, a great night with some truly fine talents, and some I'd really like to see again! Well done everyone, and big thanks to Andi and Julian for having us!