Scott Devon and Neoartists have made a friendly, caring, supportive and fun space for poets with the NEO:LIVE event in Bolton. I heartily recommend it. Nat and Paul Blackburn were excellent, well-organised hosts and will be guest poets at the next one in June. I'll be going to cheer them on.
Bolton is easier to get to from Manchester than Manchester folk might think, a few quid return on a train that takes just a few minutes.
It is dead hard setting up and running an event, it takes a bucket load of work (recalling Bang Said The Gun: Manchester and Freed Up) and I know the effort Scott and co have put into making this splendid event.
I was impressed by the variety and quality of the open mic. There was a lot of comedy that proper made me laugh but never did it get to the point where poets with quieter, subtler, more serious work were not able to make the space their own. The audience laughed and listened in equal measures and, speaking as someone who often feels music and spoken word do not work well at the same event, the balance of guitar and voice throughout the night was spot on. Who can resist a chorus of 'Common People'?
Nat is a stunning poet, I am dead jealous of his 'Half' poem and his songs are exceptional. Both he and Paul have great comic timing and were so generous and giving in their hosting - I'm really looking forward to seeing them guest.
Well done all involved. NEO:LIVE is a special event.