On the 24th of June 2022, Larry Beckett and Stuart Anthony played an intimate show billed as ‘An afternoon of poetry & music’. A showcase for their collaboration on the Mirabeau Bridge album, there’s now a limited cassette release (Bandcamp) and full film (set to be available on Youtube) of the event.
It was a 7 years gap since their last get-together when Larry Beckett returned to the UK to perform live with Stuart Anthony. Since the 2015 album One More Mile with The Long Lost Band and a version of the seminal Song To The Siren (2016), Larry and Stuart released a Greek-influenced album, Love And Trial in 2018) an EP Risk Is Music based on extracts from Larry’s poem, Amelia Earhart (2020), and most recently in 2022, Mirabeau Bridge – a homage to French modernist poet Guillaume Apollinaire. In the midst, Larry’s major poetical work American Cycle, was published by Running Wild Press in 2021.
“Our first in 7 years and my first for 3 years,” says Stuart about the gig. “It was small and intimate and there was a national rail strike that day!” he laughs. Fortunately, the release of the audio and video will satisfy those unable to make this unique performance.
Small and intimate it may have been, yet The Cav proved a setting to match the profundity of the material and sets the mood perfectly. “We chose The Cavendish Arms in Lambeth because it had a nice bohemian vibe, the staff were very helpful and Lambeth is where poet William Blake spent a lot of time and Larry loves William Blake,” explains Stuart.
The three 20 minute sets are made up of songs and poems from Love & Trial collaboration from 2018, Mirabeau Bridge, naturally, while Larry also reads from his magnum opus, American Cycle.
It’s a stripped-down set up with guitar, song and poetry apart from a couple of backing tracks. Stuart sings and plays 12 and 6 string guitars (with, it has to be said, a minor hint of Neil Young), with plenty of space for Larry’s recitals, including excerpts from each poem in his major collection. It’s a fascinating set as first Stuart and then Larry take the spotlight before they combine on songs and poems from the atmospheric Mirabeau Bridge.
It’s great to hear pieces from Love & Trial, whose release seems like a lifetime ago. Some of the finger-picked twelve string playing is lovely and clear as Larry articulates Temenos while Stuart matches the mood with an easy yet deliberate delivery of Wild Rose and The Song from the collaboration.
Forty-seven years of work culminates in American Cycle. “This poetry is to be read out loud,” says Larry before the audience (and cassette/youtube listeners) get the treat of a live reading from the man himself. Not only is the cassette recording of the event a rare object, but the live, in-person experience can’t have been bettered – in the same room as Larry Beckett reading his poetry. Like having Dylan entertain you in your living room. There aren’t too many better ways to spend an afternoon.
In addition to the recording, the gig was captured on video. You can now tune into that gig on Youtube here.
The Dutch Record Label ‘Counter Culture Chronicles’ is run by Rene Van Der Voort, and produce bespoke and original mainly spoken word cassettes of material related to the Beat Poetry scene, and offered to release the live recording in this format. A nicely packaged cassette featuring the entire gig, produced by Paul Walmsley, and featuring a cover shot by Adrian Wharton, and an insert miniature of the gig poster by Susannah Beckett, is now available on Bandcamp, the release is a very small run of about 70, so you will be buying a rare object.
And that wasn’t all.
Two days later, the duo scooted off to Paris to soak up the vibe that’s captured on the Mirabeau Bridge album and we crossed the bridge together. The bridge is the album cover.
(centre) Stuart, Larry and producer Paul Walmsley standing at Mirabeau Bridge – (left) Larry & Stuart crossing the bridge – (right) the album Paris photos by Laura Fletcher, Larry’s wife.
Here’s a link to a blog article about the Counter Culture Chronicles label with its founder Rene Van Der Voort.
You can also purchase ‘American Cycle’ from all good booksellers.
Here’s the book at Waterstones:
And finally, look out for the upcoming appearance in our Time Tunnel feature where we learn of Stuart’s adventures in Jerusalem in 1987 and an “up the nose” encounter with Bob Dylan.
Stuart Anthony online: Facebook / Bandcamp / Youtube
Larry Beckett online: Website / Facebook / Twitter
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Being one of the lucky ones who were at the event, I couldn’t agree with you more about how great the performance was. The emotion that comes across in Larry Beckett’s readings is captivating.