LIVE: John Cooper Clarke, ‘I Wanna Be Yours at Christmas’ live from Colchester Arts Centre

In aid of food banks local to Manchester, the bard of Salford greeted an online audience to a greatest-hits set of poetry, rekindling works which have, over time, become national treasures. Just like the man himself.
Posted: 14 December 2020 Words: Tom Dibb

Greeting us to livestreamed poetry fundraiser ‘I Wanna Be Yours at Christmas’ in aid of food banks local to Manchester, Colchester, and Salford was MC, host and long-time compere of (Dr) John Cooper Clarke, Johnny Greenwood who played a poetic ring announcer, beckoning the arrival of the bard of Salford himself. 

As the main section of the event kicked-off, an air of discomfort must be noted from the otherwise consummate professional. Be it the gap between performances or the lack of a 'real' audience, Clarke often found himself in fits of awkward laughter. But, that didn't detract from the otherwise superb performance that showed just how captivating, engaging, and funny performance poetry can be. With his unique blend of stand-up literature readings and poetry recital, the event proved why Clarke is regarded as a one of punk poetry's bonafide legends.

Throughout the event, Clarke presented excerpts from his newly released memoir I Wanna Be Yours; his recounting of the prologue highlighting it's gripping nature, his effortless and emotive recounting of life in the pre-Madchester Salford truly mesmeric.

This is not to say the event was just a book reading. Far from it. Clarke greeted the online audience to a greatest-hits set of poetry, rekindling works which have, over time, become national treasures. From the tongue-in-cheek, ‘Hire Car’ to the kitchen sink romance of, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, Clarke’s credos as an effortless raconteur is undeniable.

Scattered in and amongst his poetry and readings were hearty doses of surreal stand-up comedy. Between tales of global travel, to Clarke’s inherent existentialism, they never failed to hit the mark. The streams inclusion of obvious canned laughter was a welcome addition due to their abrupt and sudden ends. Addressing the lack of audience in the most obvious and comedically rewarding way possible. 

‘I Wanna Be Yours at Christmas’, showcased exactly why Dr John Cooper Clarke is a UK counter-cultural icon. Bar some initial awkwardness, that Clarke quickly overcame, he seem unfazed with the lack of real faces in front of him, and swiftly seemed at home on Colchester Arts Centre stage. Clarke brought together, in equal measure, laughs, poignancy, and trademark punk nonchalance in a wonderful display of poetic mastery. 

To hear more from John Cooper Clarke, click here.

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