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Brighton Fringe 2013

Gilli Bloodaxe and Friends

Gilli Bloodaxe

Genre: Poetry-Based Theatre

Venue: Bom-Bane’s Cafe


Low Down

 Poet, and alleged Viking, Gilli Bloodaxe performed a range of his works from his two albums, This is Bon Bon and Gillimots, while accompanied by musicians Foz Foster and Al Strachan.


“Ace manipulator of words and music, the indefinable” Bloodaxe’s work is full of everyday absurdities and skewed observations. He opened with a wonderfully corny joke, which involved a chocolate bar attached, by way of an elastic band, next to his ear, “The sheriff easily identified Jesse James—he had a Bounty on his head.”

Crammed into the wonderfully compact, cosy and intimate venue of the basement of Bom-Bane’s café, Bloodaxe was accompanied by musicians Foz Foster and Al Strachan (AKA Astro Chan) who played Avant-guarde, disjointed tunes, seemingly improvised on a wide range of instruments including a Theremin, cornet, toy piano, hammered dulcimer, and many more. At one point Bloodaxe joined in on the musical saw.

From his eulogy to a chav, “Sadly departed, Dearly missed, Always up for it, Always pissed…” to the clever word play of Tarzan wrestling with “complex grammar” in the middle of Dudley, Bloodaxe’s ludicrous scenarios never fail to entertain. This was beat poetry without the pretension, and Bloodaxe’s work is reminiscent of a mash-up between Spike Milligan, Edward Lear and Brian Patten, but with it’s own unique Yorkshire approach.

While most of the poems were short and pithy, his mini-opus, The Bitchling Deacon, had an almost Joycean epic feel about it, with fantastical characters visiting the races and running manically across The South Downs.

The long instrumental breaks between poems, sentences, and even words, were used to good effect, causing the evening to be full of introspective musing, punctuated by outbursts of laughter at brilliant non sequiturs and inanity,

A brief interval saw the café owner, Jane Bom-Bane, play a preview of her forthcoming Lyrical Picture Show (25th May), featuring animated slides of artwork by Tom Walker, which illustrated her reading two of her wistful tales, and this fitted in perfectly with the rest of the show.

In the second half, Bloodaxe pulled random poem ideas to perform from his contemporary Viking helmet and his interplay with the musicians was amusing, with Foz reacting as an Igor-esque clown to Bloodaxe’s benevolent frustration, describing his accompanists as a “cross between pets and children.”

Listening to the albums afterwards, without the benefit of the audience laughing, gives the poems a darker, slightly sinister edge, but they are no less ludicrous.

Thoroughly recommended evening of intense silliness.