No one is in their pants tonight. Not Eugene Robinson, frontman of monolithic rockers Oxbow, usually seen discarding most clothes before the fifth song, and, maybe fortunately, not DC Gates, 50% of local bilelords Gindrinker (if you don’t count the drum machine). No, dapper is the word for this spoken word night, onstage at least, with suits, briefcases, scattered sawdust and a hanging punchbag pushing proceedings dangerously close to actual culture. Into this heady amosphere DC Gates begins reading from the Book Of Job, then from something written on the back of a microwave lasagne wrapper. Hatred is the strand that runs through this ragtag collection of rants, thoughts and song lyrics: Alain De Botton is a cunt we learn, and so is the Guardian’s Tom Meltzer. Others are merely sellouts or murdered. Scabrous humour and intelligence sit next to each other like the two bottles of (different) booze at his feet. A repellently fun opener.
If DC Gates is weirdly like Gindrinker without the music, Eugene Robinson’s turn is also similar to a de-tuned Oxbox performance: he strides round slowly, eyes half closed, in a darker, more remote place. Here though, it’s thankfully interspersed with deep laughs and a shedding of layers that stops a hat and coat. Robinson is a fine host: soft, melodious delivery, obvious brains, unsettling tales. His autopsy of the formative experiences that developed his pugilist outlook may disappoint those expecting cheap anecdotes from a man who recently authored a book on fight culture, but they provide weighty, thought provoking material to chew on. Hearing about being a kid, tied crying to a steel pole feels a little guilty while supping red wine, but hey, there’s a well adjusted young man who’s been to the Grammys and everything, so enjoy. It ends with an entertaining discussion about the difference between forgiveness and redemptive violence, inspired via a Grangetown scally mugger story. Robinson signs my friend’s book: “When the hand becomes the fist. YEAH!” Unlike De Botton, he’s a gent.