John Cooper Clarke, now an honorary doctor of the arts, is a survivor of the from the punk era of the mid-1970s. Back then he compèred – and then performed at – concerts by the Sex Pistols, and palled around with Factory Records impresario Tony Wilson. The poet-cum-musician has been spitting truth and humour for over 40 years, and just like his ragged, Dylan-esque barnet and his unreconstructed Salford twang, the fire in Clarke’s words remains.
A hero and inspiration to the likes of Steve Coogan and the Arctic Monkies’ Alex Turner, Clarke is an absorbing performer who mixes pathos with absurdity in quick-fire rhymes that pulse along like a passenger train, parcelled into poems about working class life, suburban discontent, and no little amount of philosophy.
Truly a one-of-a-kind talent, Clarke is the people’s poet and he’s still got the magic touch.