Butterflies & hot flushes with Lloyd Cole at the Amstelkerk
March 16, 2012 By Manou Chen

I pity artists who feel they have to pretend that age doesn’t affect them. I’m talking about the Madonnas, Mick Jaggers and K3’s of this world. At the other end of the spectrum is a man who wrote his first song about turning middle-age when he was 26 (Hey Rusty) and hasn’t stopped since. If you are pretender yourself, attending a concert by Lloyd Cole can be somewhat confronting. Like me, you might start out by thinking: ‘What’s wrong with other people my age that they look so old’, only to realize that the majority of the audience is thinking the exact same thing. Making it harder is the stylishly grey man on stage, singing lines like: ‘No longer angry, no longer young, no longer driven to distraction, not even by Scarlett Johansson’ and joking about our worried baby-sitter texting us, before setting in his 24th song of the evening. How wrong can he be? We don’t have a baby sitter. We have an au-pair.

In the acoustically stunning Amstelkerk, Lloyd Cole appears to be in a much better mood than he was last year, playing at People’s Place. 2011’s tour followed the release of Cole’s 11th studio album and was with and about the Small Ensemble. The purpose of this year’s tour is T-shirts (more specifically, getting rid of them) and finds Cole performing solo again. The setlist is a varied selection from his impressive discography and it’s causing me to have flashbacks to specific periods of growing up with the gifted songwriter that’s Lloyd Cole.

Early songs like Why I love Country Music, 2CV and Rattlesnakes, tonight played in a compelling minimalist fashion, bring back that butterfly feeling of longing for an equally articulate, misunderstood and hopelessly romantic counterpart. Then I see myself falling in love with girls that didn’t fit the description by far, having ridiculous amounts of sex to Hey, Rusty and 29. Cole’s first solo releases, containing songs like Don’t Look Back and No Blue Skies take me back to my one-room apartment in the Jordaan, playing along with the bass lines, renouncing the myth of student-life. Love Ruins Everything, Sentimental Fool and all those other songs from Love story (1995) are the soundtrack to meeting the future mother of my children and implicitly negotiating the terms for starting a family (for over ten years).

Lloyd wasn’t too happy about some passages in my review of his last gig in Amsterdam. Some fans even commented that the review was more about me than about the Small Ensemble. They were quite right. This one is even worse. I find it impossible to disconnent the event of a Lloyd Cole concert from my personal sentiments, especially when, like Thursday evening, everything is as it should be; a light-hearted Lloyd is doing his humorous routines between songs, introducing the a new song (No truck) and occasionally forgetting the chords or lyrics to old ones. The excellent bluesy version of Sweetheart and a touching performance of Don’t Look Back are perhaps finest moments of a great show. Of course, at one point Lloyd Cole makes some remark about the Amstelkerk’s climate regulation, but then contemplates that he might be having hot flashes.

On an evening like this nothing can ruin the mood. Not the mobile beer tap or the presence of Lebbis. Not even the same drunken idiot that tried to ruin last years gig. (This time he was knocking over wine bottles and making inner mouth noises. He was almost beaten up by a huge, serious looking fan after the show. Who says Lloyd isn’t Rock’n’roll?) So, I bought myself a Lloyd Cole T-shirt and left the Amstelkerk in high-spirit with youngest looking mother in the audience.

Past imperfect
Didn’t know that you cared
Travelling light
Broken record
No truck (*new song*)
Why I love country music
Don’t look back
Love ruins everything
Woman in a bar
Sentimental fool
Hey, Rusty
The flipside
Are you ready to be heartbroken
Like Lovers do
Cut me down
No blues skies
Music in a foreign language
Chinese Translation (cover by M.ward)
Brand new friend
No more lovesongs
I’m gone
The Young Idealists
Perfect Skin
Unhappy song
Lost weekend
Forrest Fire

Link to original article online

Publication: IndieFuzz

Publication date: 16/03/12