This week Tongue Fu presented a night of live spoken word, improvised music and film at South Bank ‘s Wonderground festival. Under the glittering circus-like tent, spoken word artists Chris Redmond , Dizraeli, Femi Martin , Luke Wright and Ty delighted the audiences with their stories ,rhymes and poems.
Tongue Fu ‘s house band (Nostalgia 77) and East London design studio CR&D set the back drop to the words with genre-bending accompaniment and thought-provoking images. Tongue Fu presents a show which is a bit of a hodgepodge of styles but also has an ebb and flow to it which makes it an unpredictable but entertaining night .
Chris Redmond started off proceedings with his poem to some jazz greats and some jazz not so greats particularly smooth jazz extraordinaire Kenny G who as he points out has sadly sold more than 75 million records! He followed up his homage to jazz with an homage to his ever-growing belly and cheese . I like Redmond he’s a bit cheesy (no pun intended) but his self-deprecating humour is good fun and I found his early mid life crisis rant silly but relateable .
BBC radio 4 UK slam champ, Dizraeli followed this up with a completely different vibe. His set was a bit grittier, more melancholy and took jabs at two prominent right wing political figures in the UK. Disraeli was also extremely capable when working with the band on stage and seemed like he knew exactly what he wanted from them. Sometimes a hip hop beat or something a bit more experimental. He’s a powerful and passionate poet who’s not afraid to touch more controversial topics.
Femi Martin was up next with what she calls “Flash Fiction”. More of a storyteller, her pieces narrated stories of an unlucky boy, a life-affirming story about angels who watch over us and one called 35% which is featured on the Tongue Fu Tapes Volume 1. She is a sharp writer who radiates on stage. I really loved the groovy accompaniment the bad gave her on for her final piece , 35%, which despite all the groove and uptempo beats it’s really about infidelity .
Luke Wright is a “motor-minded” poet who did a hilarious set on upper class snobby kids at a school called Charter House and a surreal B-movie poem called Barry and the Blob where a slimy blob takes over Brentwood. Wright has a clever turn of phrase and his words aren’t always so explicit but the brilliance was the effort you make reading between his lines. Brilliant!
Rounding off the evening was hip hop artist and funny man, Ty. He has performed with the likes of De La Soul and James Brown’s old right hand man Maceo Parker. He got on the stage claiming he was jet-lagged after just getting back from Australia but he could have fooled me. His energy was palpable and he’s also a bit goofy. He started with some hip hop and like Dizraeli he was in complete synch with the house band even singing them the bass line which was in his head in the loo before gracing the stage. He diverged a bit away from his normal hip hop routine and had us in stitches over his childhood memories in Brixton with his overbearing but hilarious Nigerian father.
It is little wonder why Tongue Fu is one of London’s best attended spoken word nights. It’s a mish mosh of styles but it comes together nicely . They will be back at the Wonderground on the 14th of August. For more info about this Modern Poetry group, check out http://tonguefu.co.uk/. For tickets to London’s Wondground https://www.londonwonderground.co.uk/