It is a rare thing for a poet to achieve national treasure status in this day and age, even rarer for one from a primarily performative background. John Cooper Clarke would probably be the first to come to the minds of most, but for me Attila the Stockbroker isn’t very far behind.
A performance veteran of more than forty years, having performed everywhere from the old universities of England to the punk clubs of East Berlin, Attila is a true legend. As such, it is something approaching an honour to be able to see him in an appropriately dingy PBH Free Fringe venue. Delivering a polemic on the evils of Brexit, by way of a pleasantly sincerely emotional poem about his step dad, and finishing on a legitimately tear-wrenching poem on his mum’s struggles with Alzheimers, Attila’s experience and ease on stage shows from the off and through every second of this show.
The style of performance ranges from those angrily spat from memory, to the more subtle and slower pieces read through his pleasingly John McCririck-esque glasses, but never does the hour lag. His stories of reconciliation is enjoyed by the suitably mixed audience, from the old punks who are acknowledged as returning guests (he has more than enough material to change the show daily) to the young hipster girls sat in front of me, and it is a great joy to watch as the master onstage hits his flow. The poetry sweeps from the angry, to the touching, to the funny, the wordsmithery and craftsmanship on display almost breathtaking, and the spoken sections and introductions in between not far off. A personal highlight for your humble reviewer was a story of substituting for other performers, including bizarrely enough Donny Osmond, and featuring a mention of an old Fifa favourite of mine.
This is quite simply a masterclass in performance poetry, a glorious rawness not seen in the modern Button Poetry generation of slam poets, a living legend in full flow. A lot of performers on the free fringe will wax lyrical about how their show is worth the foldable money lining your wallets, but rarely is it more true than with this hour.