Poejazzi @Surya, March 13th

You may know that I am a fan of music, and words. Between them the two grace my shelves, fill my ears, and wrap themselves around my daily routine. One of the top places to see the two combined in a night of entertainment, is, so I had heard, Poejazzi. When the Southbank Centre and Bestival rave about them, when previous performers include Scoobius Pop and Ed Sheeran, you know that quality is high. Founded by Joshua Idehen around the premise that ‘we like our words loud,’ the Poejazzi crew are keen to stress that they are fans of what they are presenting, not dictators of taste and rules. Tonight’s event at Surya marked my Poejazzi cherry popping.

More a fan of guitars and drums than beats and loops, the music was a little lost on me. Whilst appreciating the variegated talents of Sarah Williams White, with her keys, synths, loop pedals, a vocal effects machine and the blend of electronica, soul and dub step of The Insomniax, and able to recommend their poetic beats, I can’t say I am totally keen to rush out and repeat the experience.

But the words…

We were promised that Tshaka Campbell would ‘switch all the lightbulbs in your head on.’ This was no exaggeration. The frenetic and powerful wordsmith flickered and flashed all over. Imagine Shakespeare in a duel with Ghostpoet, reading the innermost thoughts of Dante as interpreted through the lens of Graham Greene. Sentences that grab the chunk of emotion brimming in the gut and force you to confront it delivered with a unique portrayal of placid fervour, this was something special.

Rob Auton’s poetry is something of a psychedelic treat. All poets and spoken word performers do something a little bit magical to words that us mere mortals can’t; it’s why the journey home on the 139 was nowhere nearly as enlightening. Somewhat distinctive, his meditation on the colour yellow and all its hues was equally bizarre and strangely revealing. His original buttercup coloured show (literally: we had to wear yellow lens glasses) ran at last year’s Edinburgh festival, and whilst his modesty causes him to acknowledge that not everything can be life changing, there are certain moments of his set that truly are. Life, switched on. On full beam. IN CAPS LOCK.

Oh, and Jarvis Cocker has played his poetry on the radio!

Keep an eye on Poejazzi’s events page for future gigs. They will take you out of your comfort zone. Success.

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