Well the ALS 2009 Tour rolls on, and the 4th leg of the tour took me too the cooler climes of Melbourne town. The big difference on this leg of the tour was that guitar-slinging Rock Pig, Sheish Money was along for the ride. Now Sheish and I have played lots of local gigs, but outside of QLD and Northern NSW, the other states have so far missed out on the Nunn/Money experience. So I have to say… we were fairly excited!
Friday kicked off with the launch of Overload 2009 at the Fitzroy Town Hall, MC’d by poetic raconteur, Myron Lysenko. A truly beautiful venue and great space to mingle with the Melbourne poetry crowd. I was really impressed by the passion of the Mayor who delivered the best speech I have ever heard from a politician at such an event. You really got the sense that she was right behind the festival. After the speeches, The Heart Chamber featuring Matt Hetherington, Tom Joyce, Lia Hills, Marian Spires & Michelle Leber performed a set of love poems. Matt Hetherington’s poem , When I Am Not With Her There Where She Is, the absolute stand out and one of the best contemporary love poems I have read in the last decade.
So with the room feeling the love, Santo Cazzati hit the mic dressed in checked suit and matching hat with all the energy of a box of snakes, promising us to keep us safe from the Fitzroy Ghouls as he lead the poetry crawl, Takin’ it to the Streets. And we were off…
First Stop Dantes.
Kicking things off was Gabrielle Everall (WA), who I had seen perform last weekend in Perth. Gabrielle delivers her words in a darkly musical voice. Her poems brimming with equal parts beauty and menace. Her set was followed by fellow West Australian, Vivienne Glance and the man who is on a quest to become Australia’s first poet laureate, Ben Pobje. So with the first leg of the crawl setting the bar high, the crowd was whitled into action, and set off to Southpaw in pursuit of Santo Cazzati and the offerings of poems by Anthony O’Sullivan, Jenny Toune, Kimberley Mann & Sam Byfield. Sadly, Sheish and I had to miss Stop Two to rush back to The Nunnery, get our gear and head off to Blue Velvet to sound check for the the third and final stop for the night.
Third Stop Blue Velvet.
With the sound check done and the crowd squeezing in to the lounge-room sized back room, we hit the stage to open proceedings. No intros, no talking, just the sparkle of Sheish’s big red Kasuga brightening my poems. This was the teaser for Saturday night’s set, so we played only three poems Nomads, Ocean Hearted & Seeing a girl off in a summer storm. The room feel into that deep silence, and for those few minutes, the world seemed to close its eyes. We looked at each and smiled, eager to play an extended set tomorrow night. We were then followed by the be-helmeted Alex Scott and Bribane’s surrealist wildcard, Ghostboy. A Ghostboy set is something to behold. The crowd is just as much a part of the show as the man/ghoul/poet himself. Tonight Ghostboy tied one woman to a chair and incited another pair of ladies to passionately kiss on the carpet. He was on, the crowd lapped it up and he lapped the cheeks of several men in the audience.
We had taken to the streets and the streets had embraced us.
Saturday was the big one… tonight Sheish and I stretched our poetic riffs at the Bella Union Trades Hall, sharing the stage with tap-dancing poet Jenny Toune and the mighty Sean M. Whelan & the Interim Lovers. Jenny kicked things off with a show that blew away all my expectations. I have to admit, when I read tap-dancing poet, I wondered whether one of the art forms would suffer, but within minutes, she put all those concerns to rest. She had the moves and the words to make the stage light up. It was a great opening set and a real pleasure to have seen.
Sheish and I were up next, and champing at the mic. From the moment we plugged in, it felt good. We opened with Gutter & Edge which is on the forthcoming CD and the sound, lights and crowd were all in sync. From there we kicked in to Save Me/Lessons, Sheish showing off his full-throated growl, with me stepping in and out to punctuate the verses. It was then in to the newer poems, Sentinel and And What Voice Says. The dark guitar loop and lead flourishes giving And What Voice Says a whole new life. Sheish then pumped straight into the big open chords of Grounded before channeling Bootsy for a funky version of Oooo… We then reinterpreted old favourite In Devotion to Life’s Sordid Affairs and closed the set with Sheish tearing into the mic with his song Poetry and this Lost Shark, dropping in Point Danger between verses. It was a tight set, the interplay was good and we walked off stage, only to be called on for an encore. This is where the true brilliance of Sheish comes into play. I named a poem and he just knew the right chords… it was off the cuff, it was spontaneous and it was right. We walked off into bright lights of the Bella feeling good.
And to round off the night Sean M. Whelan & the Interim Lovers took to the stage unveiling a new set of poems, which reinterpret the Lewis Carrol classic, The Hunting of the Snark. Whelan is a gifted poet and performer. Tonight he swayed with the band’s subtle movements and writhed as they reached crescendo. The poems, never overshadowed by the band and the band… well, I was mesmerised. In fact I could have watched/listened to it all again. I look forward to seeing this project evolve.
And with MC Steve Smart, bringing the night to a close, we all stumbled off into glorious Lygon Steet for more wine, pizza and endless conversation.
During my time at Overload I also had the pleasure of seeing Eric Beach at The Dan; Santo Cazzati, Steve Smart & Carmen Main, Eddy Burger and Jo Truman & Warren Burt at Glitch Bar and launching Maurice McNamara’s debut collection, Half-Hour Country at Dantes (more about that soon).
There is something incredibly special that happens when poets come together… and this Lost Shark was once again, honoured to be a part of the poetry community. Sheish and I tip our hats to James Waller and crew for all their hard work. I hope you guys are still revelling in it.
To keep up to date with all the Overload events visit Overland and be sure to leave a comment.
NB: All photographs taken by Michael Reynolds… one of this world’s true gentlemen.