Your City Festival

It Wasn't All About The Music...

Sean Dissington || 26th April

So Your City has been and gone. A free music festival organised by people for no other reason than they love music, and want to share what the area has - and what better reason to challenge those who claim there’s nothing to love about Stoke than to waterboard them with culture?

Nearly 100 separate acts, eight venues, three days - No mean feat at all, and a credit to the team that organised it. Live music wasn’t all that the festival was about, we are lucky to have some talented wordsmiths amongst us, and I went to Airspace on Saturday evening to see Martin Gooding, Richard Redwin and MURDOK make spoken word performances, before I moved on to the exchange.

Martin Gooding is starting to make a name for himself locally, his impassioned pleas sit next to defiant shouts as he talks about the struggle of the working class and the manner in which he feels the political classes look upon ordinary people. Whilst at times in his performance on Saturday it was clear that he was trying hard to be “in character”, there is an underlying honesty and humour in Martins’ work that is endearing. He called out one piece as being a pure invention, and it worked the better for it, delivered in a fashion that took spoken word as close to a hip-hop delivery as you’re ever likely to hear on Broad Street on a sunny evening.

Next up was Richard Redwin, a man who came here to study and never left (like so many other creatives that we are fortunate to share our home town with). Like many spoken word artists Richards’ prior performances have had a lyrical, almost melodic quality about them - so it wasn’t a huge surprise that he was backed up by a PC running Ableton and jumping over the fence to a musical/spoken performance. If I was only given two words to describe Richard’s performance I would say utterly authentic. He speaks in measured tones, holding back the passion and determination until he delivers raw, visceral lyrics in a manner that completely demands your attention. This was the first time I’ve seen Richard performing to music, and he was clearly not relaxed to begin with - but the musical composition worked perfectly with his prose, delivering another dimension to powerful and emotionally disabling words.

Finally MURDOK, the balaclava wearing man who once shouted through a Sunday next to a riot-packed shipping container. Introduced by Martin wrestling death in the form of a skeleton - a humble and hilariously abstract performance, MURDOK delivered with his usual eloquence, humour and style. The smoothness of his prose matching his pace, intonation and subject to make for an utterly captivating performance about modern life, death and what comes in between.

If you think poetry isn’t for you, think again. These three men have stories to tell, and through a variety of styles that are uniquely personal they deliver in a way that is compelling, amusing and truly captivating.