Review: If They Don’t Read Books Don’t F**k Them

By Mike Morris

‘If They Don’t Read Books Don’t F**k Them’, The La Violette Night in partnership with WoW, in Studio 2 on Friday 3rd May, of spoken word, prose and poetry, was like a precursor to the Liverpool v Barcelona Game the following week – outstanding performances all round, a full house, an audience left stunned at the end by the quality on show, and four outstanding performances by the poets on the stage, with no sagging in the final third. The only thing missing to complete the analogy was Messi and Suarez legging it down the tunnel at the end after being taken apart by Liverpool talent. As it was the four artists, Nathan O’Hagan, Louise Fazackerley, Roy and Toria Garbutt, just ripped up the stage; if Carlsberg did spoken word gigs, this was it.

Roy, or PJ as we first knew him, was published as one of the winners in our Pulp Idol novel writing competition a number of years back. He said he’d enjoyed that, but he’d moved in a different direction, and his own spoken word was gaining some traction. Next thing he’s only all over 6 Music’s festival in Liverpool, and tickets had sold out in a matter of days. I’d heard about the La Violette nights, and gormlessly missed on with Irvine welsh a few years back for reason I won’t go into. I was pleased when PJ approached us to partner a night with them in the festival, and I finally managed to get to one of the nights and knew it was exactly what we wanted, quality, passion and something for audiences to take away and ponder once the night had gone.

Studio 2 is a perfect venue for this type of gig, warm and intimate, and a good bar. I like the way they do ten-minute breaks here between acts, makes sense as it gives you time to top up and/or let the impact of the last act sink in, as you chat about it over a drink, or a smoke outside.

Novelist and writer Nathan O’Hagan took to the stage first, after a fine introduction by Janaya Pickett – aka muva_earth, and held the room with an opening story about the challenges of being a good father in the face of getting punched by another irate father, and then reduced us all to tears with his next, unfinished story, about former England Manager, ‘Big’ Sam Allerdyce; his impersonation of Sammy Lee definitely a crowd favourite. Louise Fazackerly – Louise the Poet – was magical, the imagery she summoned in Horse was a joy to hear and imagine, Roy was the best I’ve ever seen him, his first story ‘You’re Dead’, left me stunned, and Toria Garbutt was outstanding, bit of femme John Cooper Clark. The audience loved it too. This lot really are the cream of the crop of spoken word today. Catch ‘em if you can.