Tongue Fu comprises spoken word and music, and what makes it so unique is that it’s all unrehearsed. I attended an event at the London Wonderground and had such an enjoyable experience. It was a dismal rainy London evening and I’d just spent several hours attempting to avoid rush hour tubes, and ended up soaked to the skin, but I soon forgot about that once the show started.
Essentially the poets would grace the stage and give the band some instructions on the genre, feel, emotion, and tempo of the music they required to accompany their poem. Some of the poets were specific with instructions like, ‘Something a bit like Adele but it’s not about a breakup’, and some of the instructions were more obscure such as, ‘Think of grandparents sitting on a porch in a rocking chair in Jamaica telling their grandchildren a story’. The musicians delivered quality sound every time and interpreted the instructions impeccably.
The poets themselves were each talented and unique. Chris Redmond was a lovely host who performed some fantastic poetry too. He was very likeable and clearly had a lot of love for the show.
Greeds hosts a spoken word open mic event in Shoreditch called Boxedin, so I was already familiar with him but it was the first time I’d seen him as a poet rather than a host. His stage presence was excellent and his personality shone through, his poetry was also very strong. I particualrly liked the poem he finished on, I found it to be very moving.
Rob Auton was absolutely hilarious in his introduction, you couldn’t help but laugh at his baggy suit and comedy. His poem accompanied with the music instilled much emotion in me, he was so full of passion and I felt hooked on the words he was speaking in his poem about the sky. It was nice to see a mixture of humour and seriousness in his overall performance.
Francesca Beard provided something a little bit different for the night, which allowed the audience to interact. She had us raising our hand if we agreed with the statements made in her poetry, she had us reading off cards she held up, and she had an audience member reading part of her poetry too. The interaction and uniqueness of this act nicely broke up the night. Francesca was then additionally part of a book reading game with host Chris. One had a book on American Politics, and the other had a book on Psychic cats, they chose a page number and Chris read one line from his book and then Francesca would do the same with her book. This made for some very interesting sentences which was hugely entertaining and definitely a game that everyone should play. I couldn’t help but question why a book on Psychic Cats actually existed, I mean who would consider that worthy of publishing?! But that made the game all the more hilarious!
The final act of the night was Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, who was so effortless and professional on stage. For the most part she didn’t give the musicians any instructions, and the performances from her and the band were outstanding. She was clearly one full of experience and talent, and her poetry matched really well with the music played.
This show is different from the usual spoken word nights, and knowing that it’s all improvised makes it so exciting to be a part of. It’s such a great concept and I can imagine something different and unexpected happens with every show. The combination of hilarity, and heart-rendering performances makes for such an excellent mix. The only downfall for me was that the show starts a little bit late in the evening, but a part from that I have no negative comments. I’ll be sure to check out the event again and I know it won’t disappoint. Overall the concept, poets, musicians, and the general vibes are absolutely fantastic, and it’s definitely a show worth checking out for those who love literature, poetry, and music, as well as those who are just looking for something a little bit different to do in London.