As the veteran and venerated punk poet John Cooper Clarke reveals a new live appearance, longtime fan Getintothis’ Banjo looks forward to a treat.During the heady rush of 1977, while Punk was tearing things up and providing high octane musical thrills, not many people would have put money on a poet from Salford being one of its most unique, interesting and long lasting stars.
Poetry and punk may not have seemed the most natural of bedfellows, but John Cooper Clarke’s style, breakneck speed and subject matter chimed well with the mood of the times and he was carried along on the late 70s zeitgeist.
His act was an easy one to transport around the country, involving a microphone and a carrier bag full of poems It was not uncommon to see him pop up as a support act many times throughout the 70s and 80s.
Inevitably, his poems were set to music and while his songs may not have been Top of the Pops material, his 1978 Martin Hannet produced album Disguise in Love, saw him make a memorable appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test.
His next album, Snap, Crackle and Bop, gave him his highest chart placing, peaking at 26 in the charts. His appearances and recordings then became less frequent as he entered his heroin years.
This period also saw him in an unlikely relationship with Velvet Underground legend Nico, as the fellow addict moved to Salford, Quite what she thought of Salford after the high times in New York and Berlin , or how much she actually saw of it, remain undocumented, but it does make you wonder.
Clarke’s return to work was seemingly easy to engineer and there was both work and an audience waiting for him when he cleaned up his heroin habits. Still charismatic and hilarious, his turns on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Have I Got News for You and 8 out of 10 Cats showed his comedic touch and poetic ability had survived.
Slots with Arctic Monkeys and Inspiral Carpets also prove that his appeal and influence have made it to the present day quite comfortably.
So what can we expect from his Warrington appearance? Expect to laugh at, admire and struggle to understand the seemingly unstoppable John Cooper Clarke in his natural habitat – on stage and in front of an audience.
John Cooper Clarke plays Warrington Parr Hall on October 28