Sociable Reading: Book Slam presents ‘Love Bites’

book slamFrancesca BeardDan RhodesKatie & RichardAidan MoffatTim Key

Event: Book Slam presents ‘Love Bites’

Who: Book Slam is the brainchild of cultural aficionados who mix together the best in books, music and theatre in one big melting point to produce the best and only literary nightclub (usually) on a monthly basis.

What: ‘Love Bites,’ an anti-valentine’s day themed evening centered around Dan Rhodes’ new novel Marry Me .

Where: The Clapham Grand – old theatre, new nightclub – excellent live venue.

When: Thursday 7th February 7.30-10pm (usually events take place the last Thursday in the month)

Refreshments: A bottle of Becks. Plus a chicken, pepper & caramelized onion ciabatta doused in balsamic vinegar for the bargainous sum of £3.


I had never been to a Book Slam event or The Clapham Grand so I didn’t know what to expect from either. I was pleased to enter a venue that still had the remnants of an old theatre and was set out as-if for a stand-up gig with a mish mash of tables and stools. The stage also had some great alphabetical visuals to enjoy before the acts started. Stool picked, beer bought (shocker – friendly bar staff) and sandwich eaten I was ready to be entertained.

Francesca Beard – A self proclaimed poet and our slightly intense Master of Ceremonies for the evening. We were treated to three of her poems which I enjoyed and also taught the Book Slam rules which were’ Mobile phones off’ and ‘Shut the Fuck up’ – both these rules were perfectly fine and abided by.

Dan Rhodes – Author of many humorous books who was reading sections from his new book ‘Marry Me’. I was pleased to learn that Rhodes is a fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, less happy about his penchant for spaghetti sandwiches. I enjoyed his dead-pan delivery and the stories ranged from the depressing to downright ridiculous. There were some genuine laugh out loud moments but some did fall short – at one point there was an awkward silence when there should have been laughter. He was an entertaining performer, although not sure I’ll be buying the book.

‘Dirty Great Love Story’ –  Performing duo Katie Bonna and Richard Marsh treated us to a snippet of their poetry-prose fusion dealing with the modern day question of, ‘can a one night stand turn into true love.’ Bonna was brilliant in her role as heartbroken girl and uber posh ‘totes, amaze horse horse rah rah,’ friend, and Marsh was endearingly lovable as her slightly nerdy and awkward male counterpart. The scene played on relationship stereotypes and doffed a cap to the hell that is Hen and Stag parties. They’re performing the full version of this theatrical treat at the Soho Theatre in March – I will be going buy your tickets and join me.

Sam Smith – The surprise guest of the evening was a twenty-something musician. He could sing, however, personally, the style wasn’t too my taste and was slightly reminiscent of a cruise ship entertainer. It wasn’t the best venue for the strength/volume of his singing and it was slightly painful on the ole eardrum at times. He was accompanied by a guy on the keyboard and a cellist – who looked unimpressed at being there but was actually my favourite part!

Tim Key – Performance poet and genuinely entertaining buffoon. To my shame I’d never heard of Tim Key but now I’m a fully fledged fan, I will stalk him on the comedy circuit or in life I’m not sure which yet. My favourite of his jokes, if you can call it that, was ’24 million gentleman squabble over 40 hats‘ which in itself is random at best – however, Key’s delivery was comedy genius, another was about owls, but I’ll leave you to discover that one for yourself. His performance was perfected to a tee from the awkward placement of his feet to the frequent conversations with his musical maestro ‘George.’ If you get the chance go and see this man!

Aidan Moffat – Scottish musician, who I’m sure I saw perform at Apple Cart Festival in 2012?! His gritty voice and lyrics are both thoughtful and bloody funny, I especially enjoyed his soul search into whether Danny and Sandy’s love lasted after Grease Lightening landed. Moffat’s closing poem about ‘The Lavender Blue Dress’ was a heart-warming addition to a somewhat cynical program of performers.

Overall regardless of the minor musical blip and slightly intense master of ceremonies this was a bloody fantastic evening with A-star entertainment and genuine laugh out loud moments for the bargainous price of £6 – I will definitely be going to another Book Slam event!

Extras: The cloakroom is £2 per item – bit annoying when you have motorbike helmets, ended up costing £6 before we’d even got in!

Rating: 9 out of 10


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