Stereo, 25th October 2015
Rally and Broad is the creative child of charismatic pairing Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum, and a variety show of “literary delight”. This is the first event of their fourth season which will run until next Spring, with monthly slots in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. The company book different acts in each city, and in the past such talents as Kirsty Logan, Liz Lochhead and Alan Bissett have performed. There are audience members sitting cross-legged on the floor of the venue by the time the performances have kicked off.
Starting the show are The Miss’s, a duo who deliver a set of acoustic angst music. With stunning lead vocals from Michelle Low and harmonies to match, they sing songs of love triangles and unrequited passion to ease everyone into the afternoon.
The ‘New Voices’ slot is filled by poet Cat Hepburn. Just returned from four months in Berlin, she describes in witty spoken-word form the experiences of a young socially-conscious woman. Highlights include an extended metaphor comparing serial dating to cereal-tasting, and a tirade lamenting the women’s magazines that make girls “care more about the thigh gap than the pay gap”.
Prague-based Iranian writer Sepideh Jodeyri reads her poetry translated from Persian. One is about Iranian places and leaving her home country, and another is dedicated to the children of Syria. She uses repetition and her soft voice to moving effect.
Next up is Helen Ivory, a prolific writer who has been published by BloodaxeBooks. Today she reads a selection of short poems from her new collection ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’, about childhood and life with her ex-partner. Each poem is a small snapshot of domesticity and the pain it entails, often using the voices of inanimate objects to set the scene, ending in a triumphant moment as the protagonist escapes Bluebeard’s house.
Martin Figura has an air of the punk–poet John Cooper Clarke about him. He jokes frankly about middle age and begins with a version of Ginsberg’s classic ‘Howl’, published the year he was born, rewritten to depict the un-Beat-like setting of North West England in the 1950s. Another inspired moment is a parody of Larkin’s ‘This Be the Verse’, about how children fuck up their parents.
Blue Rose Cone winds down the event, allowing everyone to process the show to the soundtrack of intricate acoustic guitar. Now based in the south of England, solo performer Ross Wilson sings a mix of original songs and some from a project of poems from the “Scottish literary renaissance” set to music.
In between acts, entertainment is provided by readings from the hosts themselves, a themed raffle, and mingling in the cosy industrial space of Stereo’s basement. Whether you’re a poetry aficionado or just hungover and in need of a warm word-hug with your beer, Rally and Broad is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
[Ellen MacAskill – @edjmacaskill]