John Cooper Clarke is playing a gig in a cave in the Peak District

The Salfordian poet will be joined by Mike Garry, Johnny Green, Toria Garbutt, Freya Beer, and The Empty Page this Saturday.

By Emma Davidson | 18 May 2023

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Image: Peak Cavern

John Cooper Clarke has played his fair share of dodgy venues across his career. From the backrooms of Salford boozers, to sharing a stage with some of the biggest names in punk, his gig this weekend could be one of his most unique yet, as he’s heading to a cave in Hope Valley aptly named The Devil’s Arse. 

A venue that could easily be mistaken for one of the 74-year-old’s poems, The Devil’s Arse, also known as Peak Cavern, sits beneath Peveril Castle and is one of the largest caves in the UK. The cave contains the remains of a rope makers village that would’ve been used between the 16 and 1800s by workers making rope for the surrounding lead mining industry. 

The people’s poet of Salford. Image: Adam Hampton Matthews

Now a tourist attraction that hosts a programme of events across the year, The Devil’s Arse has welcomed a number of musicians and performers, including Jarvis Cocker, The Vaccines, Kim Wilde, and now the bard of Salford himself. 

Starting at 6pm on Saturday 20 May, librarian turned critically-acclaimed poet Mike Garry will bring his honest portrayal of the city and its people to start the evening, before Toria Garbutt shares her unique flair for storytelling. Music comes from dark noir act Freya Beer and Manchester’s own noisy trio The Empty Page ahead of JCC’s set, which marks his first gig in the UK this year.

A true Manchester gem, John Cooper Clarke will entertain fans with classic numbers including Chickentown and Beasley Street to brand new material, all interspersed with his usual musings, off the wall chat, riffs, gags and stoic Northern humour. 

Peak Cavern hosts events and performances all year round. Image: Peak Cavern

Born in Salford, the poet has become one of the UK’s most loved and recognised spoken word artists, with his signature skinny suit and telephone wire hair. He rose to prominence in the 70s coining the name the ‘people’s poet’ for his relatable stories about Northern working-class society, and has since gone onto work with some huge names in the music industry, including The Buzzcocks, Arctic Monkeys and Hugh Cornwell.

Tickets are on sale now for the poet’s Peak Cavern gig this Saturday (20 May), priced at £29 per person.