John Cooper Clarke plays Brighton Dome, Review

Thursday 1 November, 2012, some 34 years since my first exposure to the Bard of Salford through his album Disguise in Love, there he was in front of me. The Dome really is not the place to see him, but my countless previous attempts at seeing him at smaller venues always ended in disappointment. I was never quick enough to get tickets.

If you want to hear his poems, this is not the tour for that. The poems support a programme of observation on modern life, politics, sex and, particularly, mortality. His reflections on Alzheimer’s Disease are acute. There are at least two good things about it. First, suffers just keep on meeting new people. Second, they forget what comes next. His apparent dislike of Terry Pratchett – or at least position on assisted suicide – pervades the whole show. “I did a gig recently in Switzerland but made sure I had a return ticket”. Terry Pratchett wants to be able to die before he becomes a “bumbling vegetable”, apparently. For JCC, that is the present state, far too premature.

We had ten minutes on why he endorsed Domino’s Pizzas (normally he only endorses products that he can get right behind like yacht makers). Skillfully he linked the concept of pizza to the another disease, Swine Flu. “It’s the only nourishing meal that can be slipped under the door”.

Source: flickr_newbie, Wikipedia

Another ten minutes were devoted to the rebranding of venereal disease (as it used to be). He told how VD was rebranded as sexually transmitted disease after a jolly by stakeholders in a sunny climate only to realise when they got home and had replaced all of the stationery that it is the ‘D’ that is the problem. Disease. Another jolly was organised, this time on the Isle of Man (no man in an island, goes the quote, but the Isle of Man shows this to be untrue), to come up with STIs – sexually transmitted infections.

So which poems did we get? Beasley Street, of course, with its 30 year revision, Beasley Boulevard. Also from the back catalogue his favourite poem – though it is so only because it is connected to his swear box which is the source of his pension – Evidently Chickentown. He made a poem out of an imaginery guest list. We got I fell in Love with my Wife as an encore – one of those wonderfully romantic pieces that never fail to warm.

JCC is a consummate performer. So engaging. He gives the impression that he is chaotic – shambolic even – but this is a slick programme. Certainly he could have gone on beyond the 90 minutes that he was allocated. He had to deal effectively with a lone heckler.

Just brilliant.

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