Sometimes life here in the Valley is so sweet. Imagine this: in 1984 Lloyd Cole and the Commotions released my all-time favorite recording, Rattlesnakes. This was the soundtrack to my teen years living in Boston. I memorized the lyrics, track listings and credits (and if need be—would recreate the album cover photo). Yes, I am a fan and will do nothing here but praise Lloyd Cole. There was a tiny listing in the Hampshire Gazette that Cole would be playing the Brass Cat. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief as Cole lives in Easthampton and has not played out here in years. Sure, whatever. As the hour approached, I stood outside the Cat, nervously pacing and braced myself for disappointment. The first person I saw in the bar was Cole chatting at the pool table with a local. Dressed for the PGA tour, his shock of black hair now graying, I nearly melted down. Should I approach him? No, not drunk enough. I perched myself on a barstool and observed his every movement. Christ, I’m a celebrity stalker. I grew anxious waiting for a sign that he would approach the Cat’s ridiculously tiny stage. Then anger. Anger over the locals ruining my religious moment with their loud voices, pool playing and Red Sox game on all three televisions. Without fanfare, Cole stepped onstage, tuned his acoustic guitar and began to strum “Perfect Skin.” I grabbed a stool and planted it right in front of the stage. Ten other people stared in rapt attention. Despite Cole’s stripped down versions, I heard Anne Dudley’s strings, I heard Blair Cowan’s keyboards. I was 18 again, and in love and alive. Cole played a number of songs from “Rattlesnakes,” often hitting the high notes that were a trademark of that recording. His between songs patter was minimal and often apologetic about being an aged singer. Cole could’ve cleared his throat for an hour and that would’ve been fine by me. Cole covered two Tim Hardin tunes, a Dylan tune and of course, “Chelsea Hotel” by Leonard Cohen. His finger-picking and vocals were spry and graceful. He asked the audience to pick some tunes and my voice went mute as I wordlessly mouthed “Brand New Friend.” In the end, it was “Undressed.” Forty minutes into the set and it was all over. Cole walked off stage and packed his guitar up. I wiped the dampness out of my eyes and fled the Brass Cat.
Publication: hot l communique
Publication date: 29/07/07