Lefty Scum: a night of music, comedy and revolutionary socialism

Ruth Walbank reviews the bonkers Lefty Scum show which took place at The Dukes last month...

Image courtesy of Will Young at Supporting Wall

Lefty Scum sees a group of left-wingers banding together to create a unique show of political protest and outrageous humour. Made up of Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Josie Long, British Comedy Award & Musical Comedy Award nominees Jonny & The Baptists, and acclaimed protest musician Grace Petrie, the line-up was packed full of potential.

Jonny & The Baptists were the first to take the stage in a round of 20-minute sets, two for each act. They were undoubtedly amusing and provided an excellent warm-up for the crowd. Out of the three groups, they were the right balance of humour and political protest, an appropriate mediation in the show as a whole. Within their quirky setup, the duo played some fantastic songs. Highlights in the crowd included ‘Hey Dad’, an amusing mock-ballad about a relationship between a UKIP-supporting dad and a left-wing son. Surpassing this number, however, has to be ‘Swansong’, with the opening lines ‘we’ll nationalise the swans’, this should give you a sense of just how mad and hilarious this group can be. The audience was in tears.

Josie Long took a very different approach to the stage as the stand-up comedian of the group. She certainly made some hard punches, but she carried them well. She integrated some more solemn issues into her two sets, such as her fear of the growing alt-right’s power and what it will be like as a new mother to-be in the world as it is today all in-between continuing Ed Sheeran puns and (of course) jokes about the Tories.

Grace Petrie presented a much more severe set than the other two, providing some respite for those crying with laughter but also reminding us that there are serious political issues at play. She rightly claimed in her set that she’s attempting to be a folk singer, and while she’s not quite there yet, her a cappella folk-style ballad at the start of her second set left the room to silence. Her well-known numbers such as ‘God Save The Hungry’, a re-writing of the national anthem, and ‘You Build A Wall’ went down a treat. It’s been a long time since anyone thrashed a guitar with that much sincerity, and despite what The Guardian claimed, it’s clear that protest singers aren’t dead yet.

A special mention has to, of course, go to the Dukes. Despite being in the round, the group managed to accommodate it with the right mixture of mockery and professionalism. But none of that would have been made possible without the staff at the Dukes and their continuing dedication to creating such a lovely environment.

I caught Grace Petrie after the show, and here’s what she had to say:

“We just had such a wonderful night here. I do love Lancaster, following the 2015 election it’s become a great little hub of left-wing activity. The Dukes is a beautiful venue, we had a great reception from the crowd, and we hope to be back again soon!”

Even in troubled times, this group of artists show that the left still has a sense of humour. Without being a call to arms or a campaign device for Labour recruitment, Lefty Scum provides a place of free expression for left-wingers. But a warning ahead to anyone easily offended or right-wing minded. Some punches are coming your way, but take them with a  pinch of salt and have a listen to some new opinions. We could all do with learning something about today’s politics, whatever options we may hold.


To browse the other great events that are happening at The Dukes, visit: www.dukes-lancaster.org