12 shows in 12 days, 12 places in the UK, 12 live venues. Not something you usually associate with poetry. As Scroobius Pip explained himself, he wanted to bring spoken word to live music venues across the country, to put it into a different setting, aside from theatres and the like. The majority of the tour sold out which shows the appeal of spoken word to the general public. Or the attraction of the delightfully talented Scroobius Pip himself. I would like to confess I didn’t gain press access for this show, I happily paid for my ticket. Pip allocated all press spots to fans. Another thing I admire about him, he said ‘I’ve got nothing to promote! I just want more fans to come and see the show’ and I was so glad that I managed to get one before the show sold out.
Kate Tempest was first up. I’d heard great things about her so made sure I got to the venue nice and early to catch her set. Upon hearing her fantastic addition to Bastille’s new mix-tape Other People’s Heartache Pt 2 in a rendition/mix-up of ‘Bad Blood’ titled ‘Forever Ever’; I was really excited to hear her poetry. Her unique mix of the talent of a female MC merged with the beautiful literary skills of a true poet made her fascinating to watch and listen to. She recited poems about life but not in a preaching manner. Her technique was fuelled with blunt realism, she perfectly put into words the thoughts of every young person. I for one felt myself nodding along as she spit her rhymes with such clarity and zeal. Above it all, Kate Tempest is a writer and the way she used her words had me standing in awe. As this was my first experience of spoken word, I was very, very impressed.
Between Kate and Pip was a comedian called Brian Gittins. I would describe his style as anti-comedy. A lot of people didn’t really understand or fully grasp his style as he received heckles from the crowd. I found myself cringing throughout the set, but also laughing at his bluntness. An odd 25 minutes to say the least and by the end of his set I was just itching to see Scroobius Pip. After a string of festivals showing off his album Distractions Pieces it was great to see Pip going back to basics, back to the words that started it all, back to the poems. Hearing the same songs in both a festival setting with a live band and a small venue with nothing but his voice opened my eyes to a different side of his craft. It appeared as though a lot of the crowd hadn’t been to a spoken word show before. This was evident by the embarrassing hecklers destroying every dramatic pause and answering every rhetorical question. Pip would often say ‘It’s fine, I’ve got this one!’ implying his words need no audience participation. It almost ruined the night, I felt myself cringing at the hecklers’ drunken stupidity. But I’m not going to dwell on it even more, they don’t even deserve these few sentences.
Scroobius Pip kicked off with ‘Introdiction’. Instantly recognisable by the ‘Hello, my name is Pip and I would like to speak some lyrics…’. His set was rather depressing and he didn’t try to hide this. Even the ‘upbeat’ number was about bumping into an ex partner. I didn’t find the depressing nature of his poetry intense or distracting, I found it beautifully crafted and eye opening. Other poems involved ‘Let ‘Em Come’ and one of my personal favourites ‘The Struggle’ which confused those around me as Pip places himself in the shoes of Jonny Depp. My favourite line being ‘My name is Jonny Depp and I kill people’. Another one to definitely check out is ‘Broken Promise’. It’s a beautiful piece of spoken word. Luckily I got to chat to the man himself after his gig as he humbly ran his own merch stall. I cannot stress this more to anyone. If you ever get the opportunity to see spoken word being performed grab the opportunity with both hands. I think I was rather spoilt with Kate Tempest and Scroobius Pip being involved in my first experience of the spoken word scene.