I last saw John Cooper Clarke back in 1978, at Eric’s club in Liverpool. I’m pretty sure he was wearing exactly the same clothes and sporting the same hairstyle this evening. I don’t think he’s put on a pound in weight during those intervening years either, unlike his audience.
It may be 36 years later, but this original punk poet is still as relevant and popular today. As if to prove that, he’s just had a poem featured on the latest Arctic Monkeys album.
Some things have changed though. Today his routine is part stand up comedy, part poetry. In fact you get the feeling he’d be happy, and perfectly able, to just do the comedy part. His weight loss routine proved that.
Clarke also recites his poems far faster than he did in 1978. His quick fire delivery style makes it harder for the audience to get the full benefit of his unique style and use of language, especially for those who don’t know his poetry. At times it was hard to keep up and I felt myself leaning towards the stage to try and catch all the words.
Maybe his thick Mancunian accent doesn’t help us Southerners capture it all? But would his poems sound anywhere near as good if they weren’t delivered this way? I don’t think so. They just wouldn’t sound right in a home counties accent.
It was certainly good to hear old favourites like ‘Twat’ and ‘Evidently Chickentown’ again. Hopefully I won’t have to wait 36 years until the next time.