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Review: John Cooper Clarke, Harrogate Theatre
JOHN Cooper Clarke doesn’t speak words. He forks them, he chews them and he spits them out with bile.
The bard of Salford was in Harrogate this week – something of an oxymoron, his support act suggested – and rightly so. Just a few steps from Montpellier’s genteel flowerbeds and a stone’s throw from courteous Bettys, Cooper Clarke was giving it what for.
He’s never been one for taboos and the rant against Terry Pratchett was uncomfortably brilliant. “He says he doesn’t want to end up a vegetable. I do.”
These days Cooper Clarke is more raconteur than punk poet, but he did serve up a delicious helping of favourites from I’ve Fallen in Love With My Wife to Evidently Chicken Shack, with a smattering of more recent verse.
Throughout he complained of being not at all well and whether or not his ailments were a ploy, the show threatened to turn into a car crash at any moment.
The lost pages, the hesitancy, the coughs. But each time a few chosen words shattered his near cringing silence like a smashed plate in a Greek Taverna.
Some of his meanderings were genius, but he tells too many old jokes to be a true stand up. However, one sip of gin and tonic and a leaf through well-thumbed pages found John Cooper Clarke back where he belongs; a smart, angry poet with a machine gun delivery.
His bullets may be words but they are no less deadly.