Manchester's live poetry scene is back with a bang.
in the function room of a pub straight from the set of Life on
Mars, one of London's more successful poetry events has been
painstakingly recreated in the dark, cynical North.
The night is
Bang Said The Gun (Manchester), the pub is The Old Nag's Head,
and launch night took place on Thursday April 26th.
duties shared by five local poets, Bang is an anarchistic mix of
seasoned scene veterans and open mic virgins split into two
halves. Act One features a poet-in-residence and a special
guest, while Act Two offers anyone ready to brave the microphone
a chance to win the coveted Golden Gun.
night's hosting duties fell to Dominic Berry (as seen naked on
Channel 4), a manic bundle of energy who doesn't so much speak
with his hands as scream with his entire upper body, and the
slightly more restrained Benny-Jo Zahl.
After a brief
warm up consisting of aubergines and an unnatural deployment of
an electric whisk, the crowd were introduced to Bang's first
resident poet, Jackie Hagan.
offering centred on a theme close to the hearts of the audience;
reconciling working class roots with middle class pursuits
(University, olives, poetry), and her
caustically witty insights can't help but wring a wry smile from
After a brief
interlude from next week's host, the always superb and
superlative (but never superfluous) Rod Tame, the night's star
billing took to the stage.
Ben Mellor of
Penultimate is no average performer. Having won Radio 4's poetry
slam, he brings a real confidence and charm to the stage, and
his performance at Bang was no different.
poem set touched upon the wisdom of proverbs and the potential
of paper, before preparing the country for the inevitable summer
outbreak of nationalist half-wittery with the hilarious "Come On
guest slot is reserved for Bang Said the Gun winners, but with
this being opening night, it was left to Wigan & Leigh slam
winner Charlotte Henson to follow Dave Viney's brief
style is just about uncomfortable enough to make stand up poetry
look difficult - providing an ideal introduction to the climax
of the night. The open mic contest.
nights are always a mixed bag, but quality at Bang was high,
with the impromptu "volunteer" judge finding it hard to choose
between the Nearly Dead Poet Society's "Too Young to Die, Too
Old to Rap" and Thick Richard's "Scum of the Earth". After brief
deliberation and a scientific comparison of applause, Thick
Richard walked away with the prestigious Golden Gun and a guest
slot for next Thursday.
awards done, it was left to Keiren King to close the night with
a personal favourite of mine – "Whatever Happened to the
If Bang lives
up to its own high standards, it's pretty clear what happened to
Manchester's poetry heroes. They set up a weekly event just off
Deansgate. See for yourself.
Bang Said The Gun (Manchester)
- Thursdays, 7:30pm - The Old Nag's Head,
Jacksons Row, Manchester - £5 entry/£3 concessions
May 3rd -
Hosted by Rod Tame & David Viney, with Jackie Hagan as