The Speakeasy launch night with Guest Poet Mike Garry at The Live Rooms, Chester

Mike Garry, Live Rooms Chester, 13th October 2017

Astounded. Stunned. Invigorated. Just some of the feelings I had afterwards. Last night I went to see Mike Garry perform at The Speakeasy launch night at The Live Rooms in Chester. I had never seen Mike read before and was completely blown away.

The Speakeasy is a new night, which started off with comedian Natalie P-J who got the crowd going and sparked interest from locals. She is definitely one to watch. After this came the open mic, with the open mic policy being; the Speakeasy bell was on the stage at all times, if the stage was free, all you had to do was get up and ring the bell, the music would go quiet and the lights would go down, giving you the stage to perform. I was unsure beforehand how this would work, but it actually worked really well. After the first poet had the bottle to ring the bell, people didn’t stop. From more comedy, to storytelling, and more poets than you could shake a stick at, this proved extremely popular. The standard was high and the audience didn’t hold back with their respect and appreciation for all of the performers. All performers got £5 back from their ticket price on the night, an ingenious idea by Michelle Parkinson who organised and compered the night.

Next up was Joshua Cialis who had won the audition to open for Mike Garry. His confident delivery and steady pace proved that he was the poet for the job. He spoke about being influenced by Mike Garry and this was evident in the content of his poetry.

After a short break it was time for what we had all been waiting for…Mike Garry! Making an immediate impact in the audience with his range from softly singing to a Mancunian roar, his delivery was both haunting and powerful. His interaction with the audience was incredible, he acknowledged the performers who had already appeared, and clearly loved the incredible atmosphere and audience involvement.

The poems themselves were breathtaking. From ‘Today’ to ‘Penny for a Guy’, he talked about issues everyone could identify with. The content was so topical, from ‘Pay as You Go’ a poem about a teenager pressured into sending an intimate photo, and the aftermath when it’s shared online, to ‘Signify’ dedicated to Mike’s favourite school teacher, his appeal is broad and spans generations. ‘Armbands’ was deeply moving and ‘What me Mam taught me’ a tribute to his late Mum, definitely brought a tear to my eye. After an astounding set, the crowd still wanted more, so Mike did us the honour of performing his poem ‘Saint Anthony’ dedicated to Anthony H  Wilson who founded Factory Records and started The Hacienda; a God to Mancunians and anybody who loved music. His friend accompanying him on viola was the cherry on the cake.

I can’t end this without giving a massive shout out to Michelle Parkinson for organising such a fantastic night. From the backdrop, to actually paying performers –more of this please promoters for the arts-whipping the crowd into a frenzy, making everybody feel welcome, and for organising the type of night I’ve never seen in Chester until now, this amazing women deserves a medal! I can’t wait to see what The Speakeasy has in store for 2018!

Words  Purple Poetess
Video David Monahan

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