Tongue Fu at the Roundhouse
Spoken word poetry stimulates an experience for audiences that may not be felt from just reading a poem from a book. The Last Word Festival held at the iconic Roundhouse is a showcase of spoken word and storytelling events where poets, comedians and rappers perform, and even protest, about stories that affect them and people from all walks of life. Last night, the Tongue Fu Band and founder Chris Redmond joined the stage with an extensive line-up of performers in what was a lively evening of improvised words, music and visuals.
The show lived up to its name as “a riotous experiment in live literature, music and improvisation”. With no rehearsal beforehand, each performer took to the driving seat, giving out various requests to the piano, bass and drum trio behind them to accompany their narrative. This makeshift concept was the heart of the night’s breezy vibes.
Redmond energised the crowd with a warm-up round, picking out musical style suggestions from them for the trio to play around in (merging drum and bass, country and reggae), and also introduced newcomers on the night to the “Tongue Fu train”. After a session of slick poetry from Redmond with a Tom Waits-esque backdrop, Young Fu took over, a showcase of aspiring musicians and spoken word performers. From topics about love and cultural differences to music spanning from jazzy trumpets to soulful harmonies, the packed audience witnessed a new generation of spoken word artists.
While every performer in the main set garnered great cheers from the energetic crowd, it was the electrifying energy of Beardyman and the brooding tone of Irvine Welsh that stood out from the pack. The crowd marvelled as the British beatboxer juggled between beatbox, funk, drum and bass and blues without hesitation. By stark contrast, Welsh and the band stirred up an ominous ambience around the violent narrative of his new novel, matched with striking visuals.
Tongue Fu underlines the idea that poetry is not just about words on a piece of paper. Poetry is open to shared ideas, collaboration with other art forms, and short of boundaries. The band and poets explored music and emotions from every corner to immerse the enthusiastic audience in a night of unique and vibrant entertainment. With a performance like last night’s, spoken word as an art form is sure to grab greater attention in the near future.
For further information about Tongue Fu and future events visit here.
Watch the trailer for Tongue Fu here: