Woodpigeon’s evening for Phrased and Confused at the Cross Kings, Kings Cross (try saying that really fast 10 times), was not your ordinary gig. For starters, there weren’t any other bands on. Only performance poets. But they weren’t just performance poets, they were performance poets who make friends with musicians and share the stage with them sometimes.
Now, FFS is not FPS, and nor will it ever be, but the everyday storytelling element of folk music shares an awful lot with poetry, so the fusion of the two in a small, sweaty north London boozer was pretty special and warrants a wee bit of description before we get onto Woodpigeon’s set (which was pure bliss, but more of that later).
I don’t know what to say about the opening act, so I’ll draw a veil over their assembly-style hiphop and move swiftly on to the lovely second act. Aoife Mannix performed her poetry with verve and exuberance,and her tales of everyday beauties were enhanced by some wonderfully characterful accordion playing by Janie Armour.
Last of the poets was Murray Lachlan Young, who is that strangest of strange things, a sort-of-famous poet. To finish his set, he asked Woodpigeon on stage to provide musical backing for his (frankly hilarious) poem, ‘A-dogging I will go’. This tale of his travels around the carparks of the UK sat brilliantly over the band’s kindly contributed accompaniament, lending an eerie melancholy to a far from savoury subject.
The band are touring to promote their new album, Treasure Library Canada, as a four-piece centred around that pillar of all that is beautiful and delicate, Mark Hamilton. Aside from a view unpleasant monitor problems, the band pulled off a delectable set, the high point of which was their cover of ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’, a song about “the saddest woman in Sweden”, “sung by the saddest man in Canada”. Watch them doing the same thing for Pulp Magazine in some god-forsaken meeting room, resplendent with flip charts and whiteboards here.
Woodpigeon are sticking around in the UK for a while – finishing off their tour with Phrased and Confused before taking part in the Great Escape in Brighton then heading off for a jaunt around Ireland. These birdies sure know how to flit around.
Words: Helen True