Martin Creed’s Words and Music, Edinburgh International Festival

https://files.list.co.uk/images/2017/07/24/martin-creed-c-hugo-glendinning-4-sk-lst256126.jpg

by guest critic Tom Brocklehurst

This show does what it says on the tin.

We spend an hour in the company of Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed, who plays some of his songs, and talks through some of the things he finds troubling about modern life. In this respect, the show is more like a performance poet set – John Hegley meets Professor Branestawn.

The songs are short and invariably simplistic. ‘What the fuck am I doing’ goes the chorus to the second song of the night, which nicely sets the tone for the next 50 minutes of absolute nonsense.

Creed is charming and genuine. His non-invasive dictum on art: ‘anything is art if
the audience considers it art’ seems to apply to songs and songwriting as well. Many are just based around one repeated phrase or rhyme: “I’m got myself into a mind trap/And now I’m looking for a mind trap map”.

His talks between songs are often amusing – he first enters the room hopping backwards
and does the first song on one leg. He then explains: “I never know how to come on. I
wanted to make it look like it wasn’t easy.”

At one point he makes a drawing on his laptop screen to try to illustrate the difference between thoughts and feelings, which pretty soon takes on enough tangents to fill the screen with scribble. It is genuinely difficult to tell how much of his material he has prepared. Either it’s all very knowing and tongue-in- cheek, or he thinks he can get away with riffing in between songs. I strongly suspect it is the latter.

I like Creed a lot – he is charming, very odd, and is clearly completely at home with this on-stage waffle. I want to like the songs too, but many of them are simplistic to the
point of childishness. There may be some larger point, but the songs (and the waffle) were not enough to make this a genuinely satisfying show.

Martin Creed’s Words and Music runs through 27 August.

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