Ivor Cutler Night

A Solid Air Event - The Green Room, Portman Hotel, Bournemouth - April 2006
Image: © 2006 Zach Bayliss
by Jo Daley

A huge projection of a BBC documentary on the late cult poet Ivor Cutler acts as a backdrop for a night I feel will be brilliantly thoughtful and entertaining. I sit with the rest of the Cutler fans in quiet amusement, the only sounds breaking the silence are ripples of appreciative laughter at tales being told of Cutler. The first artist on stage is a young man by the name of Isaac Howlett. He opens with 'Bounce, Bounce, Bounce' and warms the stage for a strange and insightful night. Martin Roberts appears onstage with Thom Wykes, both sporting rather haunting white masks. Watching them perform is like watching two, normally shy, boys who had too many E-numbers behave abnormally outlandishly. There are toy ducks being shaken at microphones as Tom reads from Mr Nonsense. My favourite line being “Noel Edmund’s face? Fucking hell.Chris Brown, a town crier from Wimbourne, performs a few shanties, acapella, then encourages the audience to participate in his performance of 'Eating Cakes'. He is a few cakes short, I am thoroughly charmed. Steven Lake of the A+E line sits sideways at a keyboard, a projection of some of his short films playing silently behind him, reflecting his creativity; he plays with intense nervousness. Barton Fink are up next. All that comes out of my mouth is gleeful laughter. These boys are brilliant performers and amusing musicians, one of whom is covered by a big pink blanket “to create distance”. I’m absolutely stunned by the beautiful, warbling harmonies emerging and sit in awed silence, until they perform 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' and from behind me emerges an eerie chorus of the audience whistling along - to which, of course, I join in. Fred and Lisa (Henry’s Phonograph) soldier on, despite missing a band member, and open with 'I believe in Bugs'. They play a short and sweet set and leave the stage making way for the next band. Language Timothy make me feel like I’ve wandered into a room at a house party and I should probably leave, but I’m drawn to them and guiltily enjoy their wonderfully “tickety-boo” performance. My eyes are drawn away from rolling my cigarette as Michael Wookey sits down to his toy piano and 50s Hohner Organetta; he begins to woo the audience with his sombre melodic voice. The two other band members add melancholy beauty. Martin uses his trumpet as a slide on his ukelalee and Deena sits at her mini drum kit wearing a slanted sailor’s hat. I close my eyes and I’m on a broken carousel in an empty fairground. They are a perfect end act for an evening laced with devoted attention from everybody involved. Another triumph from Conrad and Paul, and a perfect tribute to the legendary Ivor Cutler.