WORDS and music - poetry style.

A sold-out venue in West Kirby kicked off this year's diverse Festival of Firsts Poetry events.

Roger McGough - one third of '60s trios The Scaffold with Mike McCartney and John Gorman and one third of the Mersey Poets with Brian Patten and late Birkenhead bard Adrian Henri has some more mates.

He is joined by a trio of talented musicians - Little machine - who have their own distinctive sound (and logo) and who enjoy a successful creative collaboration with Mr McGough.

Chris, Steve and Walter are a tight band, too, as shown on keyboards, guitars and ukulele.

Alas, a skull prop is also cleverly used as a piece of percussion.

They put vintage and classic poems to music including the greatest hits of Lewis Caroll, T S Eliot and W B Yeats.

Jabberwocky stands out as a highlight.

They also have a lovely line in humour.

Little Machine perform their own interpretations of poems put to appropriate music.

The adaptations are surprising - beautiful and thoughtful, rocking and a rolling.

They joined Roger on some of his revisited old work and new poems.

His solo readings, performed with his trademark laid-back style, are always a joy to hear performed live.

The tour happily promotes Roger's latest anthology - one of his finest from a massive back-catalogue of around a hundred books for adults and children.

Joined Up Writing is the title which becomes one word in the McGough vocabulary.

Joinedupwriting ... you get the picture.

Roger treated the wide-age group audience to poems about nostalgia, ecology and war.

Two poems from the 60 in the new book illustrate Roger's sweeping range of themes from A Full English about his own DNA to What Keeps Me Awake at night - concerning the woes of life in general.

Some old favourites received plenty of 'aahs' in Cat Protection League and excerpts from his lively Sporting Relations collection.

He spoke with great affection of the late Heswall legend John Peel and talked about about his own father, football, friendship and love.

Little Machine and Roger performed for over two hours and encored with the Scaffold hit Lily The Pink.

Our outgoing Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy calls Roger the 'Patron Saint of Poetry' while praising Little Machine for being the 'most brilliant music and poetry band in the world.'

They live up to her plaudits.

Together on stage they create magic.

Five stars - Perfect Harmony

Roger McGough Joinedupwriting (Penguin)

Little Machine and Roger McGough The Likes of Us (CD) both now available.