PREVIEW: Roger McGough’s solo tour at Playhouse and Storyhouse

Globe columnist Peter Grant catches up with Roger McGough ahead of his much-awaited shows at the Liverpool Playhouse and Chester Storyhouse.

POET, author, playwright, pop star and broadcaster … Roger McGough is simply looking forward to being alone on stage.

Of course he loves appearing with long-time creative collaborators Little Machine, but playing solo with just his colourful shirt, socks and shoes – notebook in hand – suits him fine.

His sell-out performance with Little Machine in West Kirby earlier this year was a huge hit for the Wirral Festival of Firsts.

The audience was made up of fans of all ages from children to adults – Roger’s poetry appeals to all generations.

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The former member of Scaffold, GRIMMS, presenter of BBC4‘s Poetry Please and a proud Freeman of the City of Liverpool has such a back-catalogue of poems that he could play the Playhouse for a whole week and every night would be different

“It’s true,” he says.

“A great thing about playing your hometown and places like Chester is that I don’t have to spend the same amount of time introducing a poem as I do in other parts of the country.”

But doesn’t he miss the poetry-put-to-music approach of McGough and Little Machine?

“No, actually it’s the opposite.

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“I enjoy those performances but when I am on my own I can change the running order of a show – with a band you can’t.

“There is a set list when you are with musicians and you have to stick to that.”

He says he genuinely looks forward to seeing old friends on his gigs up North.

Roger also likes signing books but he’s not too keen on post-show selfies on these occasions.

“It’s because they take up time and I want to sign as many books as I can for those who have been kind enough to wait behind and queue up.”

Roger says he has a fairly good idea what he will be reading when he stars at both the Playhouse and the Chester Literature Festival taking place at the Storyhouse.

And both are bound to be ‘full ‘houses.’

The paperback version is out to promote with this latest UK trek.

It is one of his most diverse collections looking at friendships, the trauma of war right through to Brexit and other contemporary politics.

Roger has always written about what he calls ‘things going on at the time’.

He continues to strike a chord since the publication of the Mersey Sound anthology in 1967 which has sold more than a million copies to date.

It was the mould-breaking book that gained fellow poets Brian Patten and the late Adrian Henri wide critical and academic acclaim.

To this day it is regarded as the ‘Sgt Pepper of poetry.’

Fifty years on Roger – like life-long friend Brian – is as popular as ever.