Arriving a little after the start of the show we slipped into our seats for the precursor to the main Hastings Storytelling Festival event – the new Hammer and Tongue national slam champion, Theresa Lola.
Theresa in a Nigerian-born poet, who, by her own admission, finds it hard to write happy words. She claims if we speak to her after the show we’ll see another side to her – but her poetry certainly isn’t up-beat. Rather it dwells on death and loss.
However, that said, it is introspective and thoughtful stuff, and provides a real counterpoint to Benjamin Zephania…who, we are told, watched Theresa’s entire set from the wings with rapt attention.
Possibly her least gloomy number is an ode to Moss Def – written after she learnt that her favourite hip-hop star was quitting the business. She realises that performing it now that he is returning to the live scene is a little awkward – but still it holds water and has the audience’s full attention.
And then it was the turn of Benjamin Zephania and the Revolutionary Minds to hit the stage – after an obligatory interval where pre-ordered drinks were collected from the bar and nobody bought an ice cream from the nice lady at the front of the auditorium.
Benjamin is out on the road touring his new album (‘Revolutionary Minds’), and he couldn’t have failed to include Hastings on the run as this was where the LP was recorded and produced.
The themes of his latest offering are, as might be expected, ones of global importance. Politics and the environment are his passions, and he rails against injustice and tyranny at every opportunity whilst at the same time carrying his audience with an infectious smile and a pounding dub rhythm that did exactly what the night needed – lifted the majority of people from their seats and had them dancing down the front and in the aisles within minutes.