Blurt @ Barden’s Boudoir
Dalston Barden’s Boudoir. 29apr09.
Suited and booted and with a wicked grin, Ted Milton blows kisses to the soundman when requesting a little more of himself in the monitor. On the stage, there’s plenty of him (in the ‘visually arresting’ sense), done up like a 30’s stonemason putting on his Sunday best to take his wife down the workies for a basket meal, and frugging like a cocktail-lubricated mafia don at his grand-daughter’s wedding.
Blurt have been doing the rounds now for thirty years, poet and puppeteer Ted experiencing an epiphany on the largely self-taught alto-sax in the late-70’s and forming the group with his brother Jake and Pete Creese. Ted is the only one of the original trio left, now playing with drummer Dave Aylward and guitarist Steve Eagles. There have been times when Ted has not had the energy to Blurt, or even to touch the saxophone at all, but here at 66 years of age, he appears full of pizzazz, energy and a part hidden theatricality you might expect from a puppet-master once known as Mr Pugh’s Velvet Glove Show.
It’s all in the voices, see, and Ted has several. The Don-Van-Vliet-holding-the-‘bat’-of-Bat-Chain-Puller-over-three bars kinda bark, the John-Lydon-going-off-road-with-his-higher-pitched-tones holler and a startled cabaret croon.
His lyrics also betray that poetry back-ground, being figurative, abstract and possibly cut-up. Behind all this, the alt.rock/post-disco guitar and drums provide the tacked-down carpet, over which Ted can tip his magic box of vox and sax. If this is jazz, it is post-punk jazz, scholarly rather than screaming, yet skronky all the same.
At one point, he starts to scat a little before stopping, eyes wide. “What’s the next bit?” he says like he’s woken just prior to the end of dream that was promising to reveal a lifetime’s supply of winning horses and lottery numbers. Someone shouts out “biscuit” and he’s quickly determining if they mean those of the disco variety and if there’s any to be had.
This is reportedly the ‘last, last tour’ but Ted seems to be enjoying the experience far too much to leave it all behind, again. Particularly when the audience response to songs and for encores is as wildly enthused as I’ve seen from a smaller crowd. What we lack in bodies, we make up for in good-will and enthusiasm. I am coming to Blurt for the first time here, aside from a recently picked up single (Cut It, played tonight), but while this feels like a family party, it is of a sort into which one can easily assimilate.
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