Back to perform with us is Tony Walsh, 17:35-18:05 Friday . If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:
In other people’s words (official bio):
“Now a national hero” (The Guardian) having “stunned millions of people” (Huffington Post) with his iconic performance after the Manchester bomb in May 2017, delighted audiences are now discovering what has been an open secret for well over a decade: a Tony Walsh show is a rip-roaring rock and roller-coaster ride from a profoundly inspiring artist at the very top of his game. Forget what you imagined a poetry set could be and expect belly-laughs, tears and everything in between from this stunning, big-hearted performer who often leaves audiences on their feet, dazzled and breathless. “Astounding” @BAFTA “Seriously amazing!” BBC.com “… stirring… stunning…” TIME magazine
I’ve seen Tony (“Longfella”) perform live a few times, but not for ages, back when he was still doing ten minute sets in line-ups one or two steps up from open mics. And even then, his generosity, good heart, and good sense shone through, cutting short sets if a show was running late, for example, acknowledging the host and folk who’d gone on before him, performing heartfelt, soul-enriching stuff in a warm, direct way that made everyone in the room feel seen. Now Tony’s a bit rock’n’roll these days, and it could not have happened to a nicer poet! I suspect I don’t know anyone who’s not seen his anthemic performance of “This Is The Place, his ode to Manchester in the wake of the arena bombing, and I hope you’ve all seen that clip of him performing it on the rammed Metrolink while those around him hush each other and chime in and cheer. Yeah, my eyes got suspiciously moist there too – you’re not alone.
He excels in reaching into memories and identities, summoning up something richer and more constructive than mere nostalgia. His work is deceptively simple and heartstring-tugging, but falling into that assumption would only prove that you’re not listening to the intricacy of the wordplay, the craft behind the construction (because tight, elegant rhyme that doesn’t mangle the meaning is ridiculously hard to do, and Tony makes it sound easy), and you’re not looking to see the genuine passion behind his eyes. In short, his work can make you want to be a better poet, and a better person, and believe that possible. That’s a hell of a record! I’m looking forward to seeing him charm and enliven the massive crowd he deserves at Glastonbury next month.