@ Make.Liverpool
Friday 26th January 2018

Dizraeli, aka Bristolian rapper and poet Rowan Sawday, has won both the BBC Radio 4 poetry slam and the Farrago UK poetry slam, as well as having performed at the likes of Glastonbury, Latitude, Summer Sundae Weekender, The Eden Project, Royal Festival Hall and Boomtown.

Although very much rooted in Hip Hop Traditions, he draws inspiration from traditional folk music, to create something quite unique.

This candlelit acoustic tour aimed to raise money to finish recording Dizraeli’s new album, and took place in people’s living rooms, and unconventional venues.

The Liverpool event took place in “Make. Liverpool”, a venue I wasn’t previously familiar with, but is next to the Invisible Wind Factory.

The organisation behind Make. describe themselves as “A creative-led organisation with spaces across Liverpool, Make is a place to share skills, make, fix and create; to learn and to teach; to try and tweak. It’s a place to collaborate and create; a magnet for creatives, makers, dreamers and doers with workshops for members, studios for residents and events for our community. We combine high tech with traditional; experienced hands with new skills and studio space with business support.

Certainly an interesting concept and somewhere to check out.

It had a nice community feel about it, with random non-matching chairs and a nice vibe.  The audience consisted of about 40 of us, with a wide range of ages.

Tonight’s show was in two parts – the first was poetry and spoken word about Dizraeli’s breakdown.

That may sound like it wouldn’t tick the boxes of a fun Friday night out, but this is Dizraeli who is always fascinating to listen to.

Besides, it’s an important subject.  Talking about mental health issues may make us feel uncomfortable, but until we learn to talk frankly about the subject, how can we hope to help those who are suffering, or expect help if it happens to us?

He spoke of how it took a bit of courage to tell his friend he was seeing a therapist, but was surprised to learn that his friend had been seeing a therapist for years.

When I was at school, anybody who didn’t conform to expected behaviour was referred to as a “nutter” by the peer group, and clearly nobody wanted to be a “nutter”.  Of course when I was in primary school “Love thy Neighbour” was considered peek time family viewing, and the objectionable language used was all too familiar to my young ears.

Attitudes have come on in leaps and bounds since then, and yet when it comes to mental health, I keep thinking about that clip of the Inbetweeners where Will is doing his impression of yoda and the girl says “oh, I thought you had a problem”, the sub-text is clearly still that having a problem isn’t something you want to tell people about.

Dizraeli quoted the statistics that suicide is the biggest cause of death in men aged 20-34.  Without wanting to get into gender stereotypes, I think it’s true that whereas women will go for a coffee with their mates and pour their heart out, blokes are still conditioned not to show weakness.

That said, even though it’s more prevelant in men, we shouldn’t forget that women are affected too.  Many years ago I did work in a client’s office regularly and liked a girl who worked there, I wanted to ask her out but couldn’t pluck up the courage.  One Friday I was determined to ask her out, I stood there like a fool but just couldn’t get the words out.  I justified chickening out by the fact that she was coming into our office on the Monday morning for training, we often all went for lunch together when people came for training, so I thought If things were going ok that would be the perfect time to ask her.

Come Monday morning, we got a call from the client – she wasn’t coming in for training as she’d taken her own life at the weekend.

Apparently she’d moved to the area not knowing anybody, she worked in a small firm with old married people (as did I at the time) she was shy and didn’t make friends easily, and it had all got on top of her.

She always seemed so nice and smiley when I saw her, she was the last person I’d have expected to take her own life.  A friendly ear, somebody to pour her problems out to, could have literally saved her life.

It’s great that Dizraeli is able to talk so frankly and bravely about his experiences, and has hopefully come out of the other side, and his experiences help others.

You can see that Dizraeli is visibly drained talking about his experiences, and sensibly goes for a short-break before the second half of the show – his acoustic set.

The last time I saw Dizraeli he was still with his bands “The Small Gods”, a band choc-full of award winning artists, for example Bellatrix just happens to be a world champion beatboxer!  Their shows were something else, yet they were sensory overload and so it’s nice to be able to see Dizraeli stripped back and performing in an intimate venue.

His set sounded great and was well received by the audience.

It certainly wasn’t your run-of-the-mill gig, it felt like a truly special night, and privilege to experience it.  I can’t wait for the release of his new album!

If you get a  chance to see Dizraeli, you won’t be disappointed!


Words + Pictures by John W. King