The Humber Mouth - Hull Literature Festival 2000 - Thursday 9th November - Sunday 19th November 2000
Critical Eye

Wednesday 15th November & Thursday 16th November Review Hull Truck Theatre
Critical Eye Tom Robinson / Songwriter Sessions

I saw Tom Robinson perform at the City Hall in Sheffield in 1978; it was just at the end of the Punk era, and I remember the supporting band was Stiff Little Fingers. I had a great time. Somewhere I still have recordings of '2 4 6 8 Motorway' and 'Glad to be Gay'.

It surprised me to hear that Robinson was coming to perform at the Humber Mouth. I hadn't realised he was still working as a singer/songwriter, and I didn't know he ran songwriting workshops. Having sat in on the songwriting masterclass at Hull Truck on Thursday morning, it doesn't surprise me to learn that his performance the night before was one of the strongest events of the festival, and that the participants in the Songwriter Special Commission produced some of the most outstanding new material done specially for the Humber Mouth.

It is to the credit of local musician Matthew Hogg and the songwriters who took part that the material they'd worked on in the weeks leading up to the festival was of such a high standard. There was a very high degree of technical and lyrical skill, and Robinson spent time with each contributor 'fine-tuning' performance skills, ready for the Open Mic session at the Haworth on Friday evening. Robinson was impressive in the breadth of his criticism, and always fair. Often focusing on microphone technique, presentation, and vocal and breathing skills, Robinson was able to suggest small changes which made a large difference. I imagine the songwriters found this session invaluable also because it lent them the opportunity to use the stage and facilities of the theatre.

I wasn't able to attend the final session at the Haworth because of other events. I have heard that the venue was packed and that those involved gave a brilliant performance. Anyone wishing to send in a report for the website can email it to [email protected]. There will be a Songwriter cd available from the festival office, and anyone interested in taking part in a possible second series should telephone the festival office on 01482 616876.

[email protected]

Download sample audio and/or video from the Songwriter sessions:

songwriters.rm RealMedia download now 668KB
songwriters.mp3 Mpeg Audio download now 1,624KB
songwriters.mpg MPEG Video download now 3,328KB

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Critical Eye
Maggie Hannan is the festival's resident web site critic.
She will preview and review festival events, special commissions and festival publications.

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