Review – Roger McGough and Little Machine

Roger McGough and Little Machine – New Wolsey Theatre Sunday 29th October

Roger McGough has been a poet of wit and witticisms for nigh on 60 years – yet he is still as fresh and relevant as he was and has always been, and shows no sign of slowing down. He was awarded his O.B.E. for services to poetry in 1997 and more recently a C.B.E. He was recently honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool.

Roger has teamed up with a literary band called Little Machine consisting of musicians Walter Wray and Steve Halliwell who used to play with King Swamp in the late 80’s and poet/musician Chris Hardy. Little Machine specialise in putting classic poetry to music – I would say with mixed results – but together they have an interesting set interspersing their music/poetry with Rogers to create an evening which is humorous, entertaining and on the whole works.

Little Machine, with mainly guitar and keyboards, kicked off the evening with Yeats ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ but the music didn’t seem in keeping with the spirit of the poem and with the sound levels playing up –this didn’t seem a promising start. However they went on to Shelly’s OZYMANDIAS and things started to improve.

Fortunately Roger then joined the band on stage – and the evening went up a gear. McGough writes for both children and adults – but he has a wry take on life and with age beginning to creep up had poems about some poignant as well as amusing subjects. ‘Pay Back Time’ with the opening lines ‘Oh Lord let me be a burden on my children’ was one of my favourites.

The evening progressed with Little Machine covering poets such as Dylan, Byron, Edward Thomas and Carol Ann Duffy – and Roger with a comprehensive selection of his work including the life affirming ‘Tomorrow Has Your Name On It’, the politically insightful ‘The Ginsberg Skeleton’ and an accurate take on modern life ‘5 Car Family’ amongst the highlights.

The only bum note for me was finishing with a rendition of the old Scaffold song ‘Lilly the Pink! I know this was what propelled Roger first into the spotlight but it was never one of my favourites and was written in a time that Roger has well and truly moved on from.

An enjoyable and entertaining evening from a legend of the poetry scene.

Suzanne Hawkes

 

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