Mark Gwynne Jones and the Psychicbread
Wednesday 27th September 2007
Reviewed by Caroline Frith
If you have never been to a poetry gig, you don’t know what you are missing!
My problem now is to review a performance that almost defies words and is quite undescribable in a way that can convey the fun, ferocity and flight of fancy that was Mark Gwynne Jones and the Psychicbread at Phoenix Arts centre.
Mark Gwynne Jones wavered onto the stage, his face half hidden by the shadows cast by his trilby; gaunt and hesitant, often standing on one leg as though to minimise his presence; he approached the audience and spoke.
From then on, the evening transformed into a magical rollercoaster ride through words, tones, rhythm and music. An uplifting and inspiring carnival of speech, percussion and tone.
With poems ranging from the love of an orange girl (she spent too long on the sunbeds), driving a Sherman tank (man’s version of a motorised fertility symbol) through to ecological issues, terrorism and a meeting with Dr Death. The audience were entertained, challenged, mystified and amused throughout the performance.
Like the very best evening you’ve ever had in the pub with your mates and the kind of drunken, slightly insane but fascinating conversations that you think you are having, the evening swung the audience round in dizzying circles that made you laugh, pause for thought then laugh again.
Mark Gwynne Jones is “weirder than thou” but it is not the weirdness that makes you shy away, intimidated and concerned. It’s a weirdness that draws you in and encourages you to release your own “weirdness”. Not many gigs end with the audience getting the Act to do an encore – not by clapping and cheering but by being sheep and baahing in appreciation!
Clearly Mark Gwynne Jones does look at the world with “ a mental squint” and poetry lovers, performance lovers, musicians or those just looking for an exciting slant on their everyday existence should be grateful and pleased that the wind did change whilst he was pulling that face and Mark Gwynne Jones did stay like that.
The 2nd half introduced Pyschicbread to the performance. Three musicians (plus backing singer Imogen), played a wide range of instruments to augment, compliment and sometimes deliberately clash with the spoken words. Along with a hypnotic drummer; John Thorne on djun djun, djembe, udu, drum kit and anything else that can be hit or struck to make a sound, there was Deb on a variety of keyboard instruments, darabouka, groove box, drums and haunting vocals; plus “two hats” Nick Pearson on guitars, percussion, drums, kora, and hoover pipes (yes, you did read that right!)
This phantasmagorical noise collective were joined at times by Mark’s microphone effects, baboon impressions, flute playing and a wind pipe/sound tube whirring above his head to eerie effect.
The music varied from the vibrant, pounding of “The City is Drunk” to more gentle soulful sounds while Mark spoke of the brown freckled trout girl.
It was a performance where you never quite knew what was coming next, what was true story or fantasy, whether these words were an introduction or part of the poetry and what sound would emerge from Pychicbread’s next configuration of instruments to explode over the audience like wild and exciting fireworks.
If you get the chance, go and experience this amazing performance of word, music and sounds. You won’t regret it and you will certainly laugh out loud more than once.
Mark Gwynne Jones, “thoughts are the stars”:- Spectacular, amazing, vibrant, bright, illuminating and somewhat awe inspiring to those who stop and notice them.