COVID-19 has changed the arts world to one that’s online, livestreamed concerts and comedy shows are now the norm. Even Dr. Clarke has been forced to go digital launching I Wanna Be Yours via satellite.
Speaking on his minimalist lifestyle Clarke has made clear he’s against the tech obsessed world we now live in.
“I don’t have a mobile or computer, because I know how great they are. If I did, I’d never leave the house – you’d find me in six months, dead under a pile of pizza boxes.”
Before the show viewers were treated to a message from The Bard of Salford himself reading an excerpt from his book.
“All my life all I ever wanted to be was a professional poet. To me being a professional poet was better than notching up a hattrick at Old Trafford, it was better than living above a candy factory, better even than starring in a screwball romance opposite Liz Taylor.”
The show wasn’t scheduled to start til 7pm with an email stating that Clarke needing to have dinner before the show could start. The late start (at 7:10) may be down to Clarke having a pudding for afters.
Happy publication day to @official_jcc 🎉 🕶️
Pick up the Bard of Salford's long-anticipated memoir, a ticket to the star-studded launch event AND enter an exclusive competition to win a video call with the man himself here: https://t.co/nhmNzzeazB pic.twitter.com/OW4OiXHnfp
— Picador Books (@picadorbooks) October 15, 2020
We start with words from Pan Macmillan publishing director Georgina Morley before seeing Clarke sat across from his long-time friend, confidante and road manager Johnny Green in what I assume is his living room.
He performs fan favourite Hire Car to start but not without the occasional technical difficulty I only caught the final few lines thanks to digital delay.
He opens by talking about where he grew up describing Salford as ‘unlike anywhere else’. However, he doesn’t seem the biggest fan.
“It’s the home of Manchester United Football club, [Salford] was also where the docks were. A part from that I can’t think of anything special about it.”
Technical difficulties early on are a shame since it really ruins the flow of conversation. Regardless as the stream goes on these issues start to fade and now feels as if you’re in the room with them.
We see multiple famous faces during the show including fellow poets like Pam Ayers & Linton Kwesi Johnson as well as famous fans like Christopher Eccleston.
Clarke has lockdown to thank partly for the book saying: “The books taken up most of my time, lockdown in terms of productivity has done me a favour.”
He steers away from his performing life for most of the conversation but does mention a time he bombed in the Apollo in Glasgow.
“They weren’t a punk crowd, all smartly dressed young men anything but punk. I waited for a gap in the abuse and said “let’s call it a draw” after 4 minutes.”
We then move on to a Q&A session with Clarke noticeably in different attire. I’m starting to doubt if any of this launch is actually live.
He answers various questions most of which are what you’d find in a celebrity magazine (“what’s your favourite time of day?” “how do you have your coffee?”) It’s all rather uninteresting to me and fails to grasp anything of note from the punk poet.
Even though the show made me excited to read ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ it’s undeniable that there’s a disconnect between performer and audience, there’s only so much a Q&A hashtag on Twitter can do.
Clarke closes the show describing his memoir saying: “These are the facts as I see them, if you’ve got any complaints send them to last Tuesday when I might’ve cared.”
Come May 2021 Clarke will be back on stage taking I Wanna Be Yours on tour, until then he’s back to minimalist living. No phone, no computer & thankfully, no livestreams.
Details for John Cooper Clarke’s 2021 shows can be found here.