Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Linlithgow Gig

I had a good time at the Poetry and Jazz event in Linlithgow yesterday evening. The hall was like a large living room, tastefully decked out with a vast fleet of candles, low tables, and comfy sofas. About 30(?) people crammed into the room.

Phil Melstrom started off with a short jazz guitar set, and he performed between each of the poets. When I watch people like Phil playing, I’m reminded both that I play guitar after a fashion, and also why I never made a career out of it. He made it all seem so effortless - Miles Davis standards? Herbie Hancock numbers? A spot of improvisation at lightning speed? Chords that look impossible to stretch anywhere near? He could do it without any problem. Really enjoyable.

I kicked off for the poets. I began with a couple of gently surreal new poems about angels and window cleaners (respectively), then a couple of older ones that had a jazz theme, then a few from The Clown of Natural Sorrow, and finished off with a newish one about war, a Davide Rondoni translation, and In the Last Few Seconds. People seemed to enjoy the set.

Douglas Briton was a good performer. His poems were rhythmic, self-effacing and mainly witty, although he had a few darker poems in there as well, and several on imaginary conversations between characters of the Bible.

Andrew Philip finished off the evening with a fine reading. His poems nearly always have an impact that never seems contrived or forced in any way. The writing is subtle and powerful.

Certainly, the evening was a good advert for variety, as each poet on show had a completely different style of writing and performing. So something for everyone, and hopefully an event that will bear repeating in years to come.


Andrew Philip said...

Thanks for coming and reading, Rob. Your involvement made sure it was a really good evening. My own report of the gig is at

Rob Mackenzie said...

Cheers, Andy, and thanks for the invite. Hope your New Voices event in Glasgow goes well.