La Violette Società is a modern cabaret featuring music, poetry, visuals… magic perhaps. All with equal billing. It’s run by the people behind Violette Records – essentially Michael Head and a ragbag collection brought together by the website Shacknet.
The first night of La Violette Società, at the Buyers Club on Hardman Street, featured poet Paul Birtill, The Blue Soul and a singer songwriter billed as Joni O’Shea. Ticket sales were light until it clicked that Head had written a short story under the pseudonym Joni O’Shea and then it sold out in minutes.
So it came to pass that over two hundred people crammed into that long room – with sight-lines worse than the Lower Bullens – to watch the old grump poet, Paul Birtill. I missed him, unfortunately, but was assured he was excellent. So is his book, a collection of poems. Buy it – he’s as miserable as sin and funny as hell.
Next up came Mick. Sobriety suits him – fit and healthy, he looks twenty years younger. A musical Benjamin Button. Moreover, after decades of abuse, his voice is developing a real richness. At times here, he positively crooned. He even hit high notes not heard since Shack’s ‘Zilch’.
The crowd lapped it up. Liverpool has a deep-seated love for Michael Head and his music. I can’t help thinking that that devotion is about to be rewarded with a remarkable late-period renaissance.
Finally, The Blue Soul took to the stage. Featuring ex-The Maybes singer Nick Ellis, they are a bit of an enigma. A bluesy rock band in the main, but within their set there were songs which sounded a bit like The Jam or even The Stone Roses. Occasionally, too, they hit on a deep New York drone and sounded wonderful. Sadly, a large section of the crowd made their way home after Mick’s set and therefore missed The Blue Soul’s tightly played set of songs…
That kind of goes against the ethos of the Società. Then again, it’s a new idea and hopefully people will get the hang of it. Eventually.
Pic by John Johnson