Book Review: Gig by Simon Armitage

This is the fourth book that I have read by Simon Armitage in the last couple of months, and I think it is the last of his non-poetry books (read my reviews of his other books here and here). I have nothing against poetry, especially the likes of John Cooper Clarke or Attila the Stockbroker; it’s just I find that poems are best when read by the author. I tend to get the emphasis in the wrong places. My beautiful wife writes some great and funny poetry, which she has promised I will be allowed to read at the next poetry open mic night at the Gregson.

In Gig, Simon writes about the similarities between performing in a band and that as a poet. He also reviews many of the music gigs that he’s been to over the years, along with discussing those bands that shaped him.

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Right from page one I loved this book, and by the end you feel that you don’t just know Simon, but that you also know his whole family, his wife Speedy Sue, his daughter Tudge and his old man. There are also dotted throughout the book song lyrics that he wrote for a series of documentaries, mostly featuring people behind bars. People who don’t get to be heard with very powerful stories.

One paragraph that made me laugh out loud and I just had to read to my wife was when a fan asked when he came out as a poet in Huddersfield, did he get his head kicked in. All Points North mainly covered Simon’s earlier life, before becoming a full time poet, while in this one we laugh along with Simon when he’s ‘on the road’. Simon is also a big fan of The Fall, whose frontman Mark E Smith sadly passed away two years ago. I fhave many albums by The Fall and even went to see them live at The Dome in Morecambe (now pulled down, The Dome, not Morecambe), and they were terrible.

When Simon went to see another band he was worried that there were loads of skinheads in the audience, but upon further inspection, it was just that most men there were bald. A very similar experience to when me and Helen went to see Half Man Half Biscuit, a band I would also recommend.

Bad gigs I’ve been to could be a whole blog all on it’s own. Anyway, I properly enjoyed Gig by Simon Armitage, and I will keep an eye out for when he’s next giving a poetry reading near Lancaster.

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