photo credit: Garry Cook (c)
The Lowry resides on the brink of Salford Quays with its features illuminating the ship canal waterways. Named after one of the city’s most important cultural icons, it’s a milestone venue for any artist, particularly if you grew up just a couple of miles away.
Little Hulton is where poet JB Barrington cut his teeth, gaining much of his lyrical ammunition through the stories and mindsets that are part and parcel there.
The night is hosted by comedian and friend of JB; Jim Burke, who uses Glaswegian references to identify cultural crossovers between Salford and his hometown. I’ve never been to Glasgow myself but I imagine that it deals in a similar collective of salt of the earth inhabitants and “kitchen sink realism”. It’s clear that Burke is a good friend of JB’s as he makes the odd few sly remarks towards him that only the most well built of friendships can get away with. Or at least this is the hope, as Burke vacates the stage as JB enters, with not a hint of acknowledgment between the two.
JB continues this close carded opening, starting his set without addressing the audience and breaking straight into poem ‘You Had Me’, adopting a somewhat high brow style of delivery with tongue rolls and all. This is of course a parody take on the brand of poetry that he so publicly distances himself from, and midway through he breaks into his usual Northern diatribe against, well anything really.
JB Barrington wears his upbringing on his sleeve, referring to ‘Things My Mam Used To Say’ and ‘Spanish Dolls’ which discusses all of the inanimate objects in his childhood home that if they could talk – what would they say? In a previous meeting with JB, he claimed to have “Stuff that will rip your heart out, and stuff that will have you p***ing with laughter!” and he pulls on the strings of both emotions throughout. He carries the audience on a journey through the despair of the day to day, the little things that make you laugh, the power of friendship and love, and the overall appreciation of spinning round on this big floating rock. Because it’s not all bad is it?
Barrington’s work is nostalgic in the best sense of the word, touching on themes that bring the past cascading back for those who were there, while also tapping into a younger audience that can follow the witty Northern sensibilities and regional traits that you grow up with around here.
Over the course of 2 hours split into two intervals Barrington keeps an entertaining flow, buoying the midweek guests with laughter and compelling trains of thought throughout. As he ends the show the audience make their way out for book signings and conversations with JB, showing that he’s once again maintained his stance as one of Salford’s favourite wordsmiths.