LAUGHARNE WEEKEND | LIVE REVIEW
Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, Fri 10-Sun 12 Apr
Festival lovers who feel there are too many festival lovers, will love the Laugharne Weekend festival. The charmed streets amble into each other past bookshops (some within bricks and mortar, others van or transporter), pubs ( one of which has bar billiards, another is one of many frequented by Dylan Thomas), coffee shops and a frickin castle. Finally you can curl your way around the main square to face the sea, overlooked by Thomas’s famous boat house.
Highlights of the festival included Cardiff’s own Mab Jones, published by Laugharne publishers Blackheath Books, who gave Friday night a good kick in the poetry shins supporting John Hegley.
Blackheath’s catalogue provided much street entertainment – not to mention refreshments – showcasing their blossoming basket of bards.
Up at the Millennium Hall, as Harry Hill was finishing his set, the queue for John Cooper Clarke was already rolling its way along Laugharne’s main street, past the Tin Shed alfresco bar and bail stand (a bandstand of corrugated metal and hay, obvs.). Clark’s glasses are big, his legs are tiny, and he commands a strong and enthusiastic audience. Bouncing around (on said legs) with the vigour and energy of someone half his age; performing poetry, comedy, social commentary and generally making everyone happy, even the people who had to stand. I wish I could be in the classroom when the toddler in the front row explains what she saw and heard on the weekend – so many new and colourful words.
There are few festivals where you can be certain of seeing the likes of John Cooper Clark, Edwyn Collins and Suzanne Moore wondering out of a pub you can afford to drink in. The columnist gave a talk on her life and work. We were given a real insight into what goes into her column, currently published in the New Statesman. We laughed, we did not cry, we drank beer we (well, I) wondered why we were not as charming and clever as Moore, we moved outside and onto Guinness, we stroked small dogs, for there were many.
Surprising finds included Terry and Deacon; drummer and guitarist from Man (amongst many other more famous though possibly less psychedelic collaborators), in conversation. Mike Stevens, whose rendition of, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, blew everyone away. And the bizarre and polite rhythms of Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold with a Kanun she picked up and learnt to play while exiled in Armenia.
My only regret is the lack of chips, but I’m assured they are much less than the customary festival price of a fiver – you do get a proper portion, they do do gravy, and you can wash them down with a pint from the pub next door. In an attempt to get some non-fizzyapple based vitamins in my system, I ate a fivers worth of olives and pickled garlic instead, and my better half gobbled a bombay pocket; something for everyone in Laugharne see.
words NIA STRONG