> Performance Pieces <


|| Robert Calvert ||

The WORDS section of the Calvert site is broken up in 4 parts:

Lyrics [parts 1-4]

Poems & Misc. Prose

Unreleased poems

Performance pieces [see below]

Poems / lyrics & texts that appear as links are featured on separate illustrated pages -

"This is to stop meself thinking too much because my dad always used to say that
if brains were explosives I wouldn't have enough to blow me own head off -
but I've been trying to prove him wrong since."

- from a Calvert Cabaret Show 1981/82

Performance Pieces

  Robert Calvert considered himself first and foremost as a poet - with or without sound/music - period. However, you'll hardly find another modern poet AND musician who intertwined his talents for words AND sounds to such an extent.
Calvert's work covered the entire bandwidth of possibilities and experiments: "pure" poetry and prose, texts for performances with sounds/music, pieces for stand-up-comedy and theatrical improvisations - and everything fused with everything else, if necessary. Many poems became lyrics (like The Clone's Poem becoming a part of Hawkwind's outstanding track Spirit of the Age - or his seminal poem White Dynasty that became part of one of his last demo-tracks).

The first - and most successful - experiments with poetry combined with music and sounds were those texts that Calvert had written and performed with Hawkwind during his time with the band in the early and mid-70's. You'll find those texts here.
Together with Jim Morrison's / The Doors' experiments in this field, one can surely consider these as the most fruitful experiments in the combination of rock/experimental music and poetry.

After Calvert's departure from Hawkwind in `78 Calvert conceived various shows - who were mostly (though not very accurately in the common sense) labeled as "Cabaret Shows". These shows consisted of a mixture of sketches, stand-up-comedy, recitations of his poetry and songs from his solo-albums & recordings with Hawkwind - exploring how far he can take the audience in this unusual, always witty and inspired mix of contemporary poetry- and rock entertainment.

One of the texts Calvert often used in these shows is Telstar. It's also a good example how he used to experiment with texts in various formats. There are versions of pure recitations - a version accompanied with synth-noises and a real - very minimalistic - song-version of this.
Most of these texts are from that period - i.e. the early 80's. They all had to be transcribed from original audience recordings - mostly of poor quality... - so there might be the odd word or two - and no one can be sure if these are "definite" versions. However, it's the only source available and as we consider these a crucial part of Calvert's work, they should have their place in this Calvertian cosmos of words. (Thanks to Chris Gibbs for transcribing these pieces. Where useful/necessary we've added the stage-intros or short commentaries on the particular background - and also the source of the recording.)

But Calvert didn't only try out such eclectic / unusual form of crossover-entertainment - he also - and very successfully (artistically, not commercially...) tried out the quite unusual format of a musical. In 1981 he staged his - unfortunately more or less unknown - masterpiece THE KID FROM SILICON GULCH - this site proudly present an extensive special presentation of this work - inkl. an extensive plot-line, excerpts from the original script, lyrics AND sounfiles of all featured songs and more... - a highly recommended work in the rich oeuvre of Mr. Calvert.


from performances with HAWKWIND

In the Egg - flash-animation in 2 parts

Wage War

Ten Seconds Of Forever - illustrated + soundfiles + java-applets

Welcome To The Future - flash-animation

Performance Pieces (solo)
[ to present those pieces in the suitable format you'll find sound files of the
original performances added to the texts - these are audience recordings,
so the quality isn't quite perfect - but you'll get the impression...]


The Little Bit that won't Lie Down

- a performance piece plus intro-text / flash-animation -

Big Bad Girls Of London

The Dance of the 39 Steps

High Seas

In Defense of the House of Lords


England without The Times

True Brit

Idi Amin Rap

from performances with HAWKWIND

more lyrics from the Hawkwind periods and Calvert's solo-projects to be found on the LYRICS pages.

  In the Egg - flash-animation

Wage War

I would see the city as a mutant among the wonders of the world.
It's chimneys polluting the air.
Its roots poisoning the earth.
It's tentacles setting one man against another
and strangling them both in their hopeless contest.

I would map the cities' highways and tunnels and bridges,
its subways and canals, its neighbourhoods adorned by beautiful homes
filled with priceless objects, rare libraries, and fine rooms.

Its clever networks of pipes and cables and wires under the streets.
Its Police departments and communication stations.
Its hospitals, churches, and temples.
Its administrative buildings crowded with overworked computers,
telephones, and servile clerks.

Then I would wage war against this city as if it were a living body. I would welcome the night - sister of my skin, cousin of my shadow, and have her shelter me and help me in my battle.

I would lift the steel lids from the brothers and drop explosives to the black factories
and then I would run away and hide, waiting for the thunder which would trap, in mute telephone wires,
millions of unheard words.
Which would darken rooms full of white light and fearful people.

I would wait for the midnight storm which whips the streets and blurs all shapes
and I would hold my knife against the back of a doorman,
yawning in his gold braided uniform, and force him to lead me upstairs
where I would plunge my knife into his body.

I would visit the rich, and the comfortable, and the un-aware,
and their last screams would suffocate in their ornate curtains,
or tapestries and priceless carpets.
Their dead bodies pinned down by broken statues
would be gazed upon by slashed family portraits.

Then I would run to the highways and speedways that surge forward towards the city.
I would have with me bags full of bent nails to empty on the asphalt.
I would wait for the dawn to see cars, trucks, buses
approaching at great speed and hear the bursting of their tyres,
the screech of their wheels, the thunder of their steel bodies
suddenly growing weak as they crash into each other,
like wine glasses pushed off a table.

And in the morning I would go to sleep,
smiling in the face of the day,
the brother of my enemy.

Ten Seconds Of Forever - illustrated + sound + flash + java-applets

Welcome To The Future - flash-illustrated + sound

Performance Pieces (solo)

You might know the old "Telstar" TV series.... the opening soundtrack was actually one of those typical catchy instrumental numbers. Calvert wrote his own lyrics to it - but as he wasn`t permitted to use the music as a backing track in his performances he actually sang it a-capella according to the original melody - so, imagine the tune to these following lines and you`ll get the idea of Calvert`s "Telstar" version.

[> listen - an a capella version, London, Marquee, 8-12-81<]

[> listen - a minimalist synth-version, London Arts Theatre, 13-6-81<]

Tell Dan Dare and Digby, we`ll be there
to fight the Mekon scare and free
the fabulous future
Telstar we salute yer
though the future seems to be
an Arthur C. Clarke mystery:

Quasars a sequined gown of stars
"Come Dancing" up on Mars
Telstar while twinkling in orbit
We know you did your bit
Telstar, I`ll tell you what you are
You`re a moon beam in a jar

We are in a monetary state
is it getting too modern late
to catch up with you now?
All we`ve got is the silicon chip.
Are we losing our modern grip?
Do we still have a chance?
Still have a chance?

Or do we stay
forever and a day
on this tiny ball of clay
called Earth?
Or will we escape it
and memory-tape it
to show our children so they`ll know
what some of it was worth

Here we are, a recessional mess
a black hole of stress
in a Valium trance
all we`ve got is the video boom
when we run out of the room
will he still have a chance

or do we stay
forever and a day
on this tiny ball of clay
called Earth?
Or will we escape it
and memory-tape it

to show our children so they`ll know
what some of it was worth

taken from recordings at:
London Marquee, 8.12.81 / Rockgarden London, 5.5.81 / London Arts Theatre, 13.6.81

The Little Bit That Won't Lie Down
- flash-animation with sounds -

BIG BAD GIRLS OF LONDON   [> listen <]
(this piece was introduced and performed as a persiflage
on a "poet" named John Cooper/Cocky(?) Doyle - Calvert
delievered it in an hilarious accent - cockney/proleterian?

Big bad girls of london
I've had 'em quite a few
they're easy meat
they don't know how to treat me
cause I can be a bit of rough
and suddenly turn on
all that intellectual stuff
I come from Salford
for a start
now there's a novelty
especially in Kensington
were its quite a rarity
to be working class
with an hairy arse
who likes a cup of tea
instead of a glass
of Drambuee
{He's so refreshing} he's real
they say
I'm real all right
I'm a bastard
I treat them with disrespect
the same way I treat
the rules of verse
so you never know what to expect
{but} big bad girls of london
are not like poetry
I go down on (one){me} knee to her
stay up all night
like a jeweler
shaping (and)
polishing the breath of every word
until it becomes a diamond in air

big bad girls of London
are a lot like rock'n'roll
you shake the words and rattle them
until it all disappears in a hole
big bad girls of london
I like to see them sperm
in their Janet Rayger underwear
under which owing to anorexia
everything is firm

big bad girls of london
in their crocodile scarfs
they know that I'm the kind of bloke
who don't do things by half's
I'm a rotter
I'm a fucker
I'm a real fucking cunt
well that's what they tell
me anyway in the south
of accent you still hear today ot the end
of a pole on a punt

big bad girls of london
the ones who ride in the park
who like to keep the light on
don't like ridding in the dark
they know I'll never mug them
that all I want is expensive thrills
that I put myself above them
while I let them pay the bills
when all their chanToong flying suits
and their coats by Calvin Kline
with their mommies and their daddies
on the end of a telephone line
they drive me up the pole
but everyone of them is mine
for the simple reason
I need them like I need a hole
in the head in the heart
I'm a poet
so likely to be sensitive clean
while under their douvets
they blow it and tell me that I'm mean
big bad girls of london
I can't give you anything but come
and go when its time
big bad girls of london
we are partners in this crime

take from recordings at:
London Arts Theatre, 13.6.81 / London, Marquee, 8.12.81

The Dance of the 39 Steps   [> listen <]

come on come on its time to do the 39 steps
lets get hep to the 39 steps
just like Richard Hannay
we all get this uncanny
feeling that there's something going on
We're all on the run from something
but keep it down
if you start handing it away in the toes
so that everybody knows
they'll spot you
so just calm down
and do the 39 steps
39 steps to freedom
39 steps
step one you find a girl to love
Step two you go up and ask her for a dance
step three she goes off with someone else
Step four you find another girl
step five the same fucking thing happens all over again
but there are 39 steps
39 steps you just hear a rumor
39 steps concerning our doom or
maybe our saving
but you don't start raving
you just do the 39 steps
Dance like a spy in the shadows
under the flash of the strobes
its only three minuets
just 39 steps
if your brains in synch you go epilepse
Sway like Nijinsky
do the steps like fred Astaire
come out of the cold war evil Minsky
and dance like Red Adaire
Do the 39 steps
climb big ben and hang on the hands
climb big ben and hang on the hands
climb big ben and hang on the hands
Do the 39 steps

taken from a recording at: London Anklam House, 1982

HIGH SEAS  [> listen <]

Rising in sheer concrete walls
That crack open and collapse in a history of seconds
the waves explain with stacked falls of water
how nothing stops ocean
how a sea wall ends

[at this point Calvert starts a metronome - a"Primitive early form of drum machine"]

Over and over in bursts of renewing eloquence
the great lashing tongues lecture to the length of rails and rusts
beneath its coats of paint
dents in places in others bare and flaking
how metal fades
flapping itself into slabs the halter withdraws at speed
Shows the stone how it corrodes to nothing
then lifting grabs at the framed air with greed
once in one green bottled surge of inspiration
it rose up higher than the clock tower
and won a left open cage in a zoo
its heart let loose a rage of rhetoroic power
it drove home to the husband{house boat?} our town and country are drained in time
As helped the pier construct a more accurate metaphor for a world re-claimed
waves of gergern{?} tier on tier
turns page after tattered page
in search of the ultimate illustration
how the rain forests fell and the ice age flooded
the dinosaurs met their fate in the crashing fen

taken from a recording at: London, Marquee - 8.12.81


The house of lords is a bed of red noses
of unruly eyebrows and baggy old jowles
but the house of lords is a garden of roses
compared with the movement of socialist/big brothers bowls
that'll drop us all in it
when the party has dined
on what's left of the banquet
the lords left behind
the house of lords is a house made of jokers
of jacks and of aces that got stuck in a hole
the house of lords is a ward full of crokers
and most of its members are well up the pole
but who else can slow down the process
that makes us race towards difference
without any brakes
the house of lords is
critically listed
over to starboard the ships in a state
the house of lords is a titanic
twisted by sinister icebergs
great wedges of fate
and will go down with all hands
raised in applause
passing port to the left
while the orchestra snores

taken from recordings at:
London, 13.6.81 / London, Anklam House, 1982

IRISH-NON-REBEL-SONG  [> listen <]

Tanderin Jesus its so dark in Dublin City after dark,
Take some money, go down to the park
and view the zoological gardens
well took me darlin' down to the zoo
to see the mares
and the big kangaroo
all she saw was the big cockatoo
inside her zoological gardens
thundering Jesus its so dark in Dublin City after dark
take some money go down to the park
and view the zoological...

take some money go down to the...
orrr never mind.

taken from a recording at: Marquee Club, London - 8.12.81


the topic were talking of are easy to spot
riding the tube with vacant stares
some have acquired a facial twitch most often in the upper lip
they handled their tabloid substitutes with respectful distaste
as though expecting a portion of hake and chips
to come sliding out into their pinstripe laps
they skim beyond the pale page 3 youths
for news of sanctions of strikes and embargoes
a jaundiced eye for a lie
a wrangled tooth for the truth
now 'into a' {?} briefcase with furled umbrella
there is a note of harmony missing
there is a blurdness a blankness
as in overexposed photographs
retired military gentlemen
twist their mustaches like radar
scanning for signs of secret invasion
whole shows of plots
they murmur
meanwhile there's been a sudden boom in paper underwear
and toilet roll shares continue to rise
its as if St. Paul's had been trepanned and its lid upturned from the use of skate boards
or Nelsons column felled and hacked into slats for sauna baths
for England without The Times is like an England without tea breaks
an England without the pop of leather upon willow at Lords
like England without its rain drenched empty sea fronts in winter
without The Times this sceptered isle is like a whale with no spout
is not like England, neutered
in-depth reports on countries no one has ever heard of
are not being heard of now
flocks of letters concerning rare strains of rose
Arts Council grants and matters of outrage
are cast adrift on the winds like homing pidgins whose
loft has been seized and boarded up by the bailiffs
that regal black and white migrating bird
herself The Times
has taken off for the bitter winter of industries discontent
and her fanciers travel on the tubes with vacant stares
contemplating her return with the earliest cookoo

taken from a recording at: London Arts Theatre, 13.6.81
(note from Chris Gibbs: The Times newspaper always had the reputation of being "The best Newspaper" - that was until Rupert Murdoch got it and it lost its reputation (Hitler diaries, being one example of its demise) there were trade disputes due to Murdochs hatchet job, re-siteing the newspaper thereby sacking everyone, at some point it resulted in a strike and no Times.
The Times has a letters page. One tradition is the first person to hear a cuckoo writes to the Times to say the first cuckoo of spring has arrived.
I've a feeling Bob might have had letters published, maybe the one in defense of the house of lords because that's what it sounds like, and I've a funny feeling he might have written something about Naked lunch or Moorcock, or was it Moorcock who wrote to the Times about Naked Lunch?
Poets used to like getting their poems published in the letters page, just getting a letter published used to be something to brag about.)

TRUE BRIT   [> listen <]

[intro: this is a poem about being British
which still means something to me - I don't know
if it does to many people anymore - its called: True Brit]

we are an obstinate people
we sometimes fake that we are thick
or adopt intellectual overtones
only confuse ourselves
there is no one easier to fool
than a british intellectual
our language is only made for feelings
and for strange meaningless detentions
that say all
without any need for unraveling
we divide ourselves into ridged classes
and stick to them with such tenacity
that even when we cross them
our class will cling to us
like the symptoms of an hereditary disease
One of the boys in my class
has a trawler now
and he is still my mate
he is not impressed
by the measure of my success
only in that I have made myself the hero of my own dreams
as he has himsely
and Tony, Rod and Nik have all done the same
We have become ourselves only more so
we are true brits
if we go abroad we look out for each other
there is a kinship between us
a ship of kin
that has sunk to the bottom level of our society
all hands went down
we find we can live here
with Davy Jones
eat fish and chips
none of us is very good at spelling
our faces are carved up with laughter half the time
The only time we are serious is when we punch fuck out of each other
we still speak in a language the Romans could not interfere with
it is a limited vocabulary admittedly
but even medical students
only turn to the Latin
when attempting to describe the unexplainable
There is nothing ethnic about us
but we share an ethos
even with some kids who are totally black
but not with awe
there are new laws being passed now
that say we must
we have always thought that laws were made to be broken
the romans still have a lot to answer for
as do the Norman's
the Norman's have the arrogance
to stay and lay claims that are still being adhered to
just look at the channel islands
their last stronghold
full of tax evaders
a bunch of cunts
Notice how easily they were invaded by the Bosh
but that's all history now or is it
at least the Romans showed the cowardice of their convictions
and sailed off when they knew they were beaten
some of them have stayed of course
that's why you see so many broken noses still around
there' is only one thing we lack besides conviction
though some of us have had a few previous
and that is enough money to live a decent life on
and I've just had a think about this and
I've decided that this poem is going to have to go on strike
until I can get some parity with other night shift workers

taken from a recording at: London, Anklam House, 1982

Idi Amin Rap

a little oddity on the nototrious ex(-ited) terror-President of Uganda.
Performed live from time to time around the mid-80's.

where dat idi id
id dat idi dead
did dey do dat idi in
idi in heben
or idi in hell
or idi just not feelin well
where dat idi idi id

more words:

LYRICS / Poems + Prose / Unreleased Poems

biography           NEWS
works / part I / II / III   works / part IV / V / VI
R.C. & Hawkwind   collab-relations
the world ON Calvert   Michael Moorcock
Calv-ART   quotes
the spirit behind   the spirit's home

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