Lloyd Cole caused a minor rumpus a few years back when he set up with the Commotions in Glasgow. As an English graduate he couldn’t avoid literary pretension in his lyrics, but by singing from somewhere around his navel he made songs like ‘Perfect skin’ sound both sensual and cerebral. But then he moved his moody self to New York, the better to perfect his Lou Reed impersonation. The result is a new eponymous album and a select tour of his homeland.
Walking in on him at the Hammersmith Odeon on Tuesday promised well.he stage was swathed in a smoky haze and Cole, well armed with guitarists, including an ex Lou Reed sidesman Robert Quine, who trailed a mammoth reputation, and a Reed drummer in Fred Maher, looked the part in dark glasses and black leathers. It might be an old fashioned, 1970’s Warhol Factory clone but why not ? An hour or so later Cole had dissipated most of my hopes. He has picked up the worst East Coast mannerisms, including half an American accent, and that irritating business of quitting the stage after 45 minutes the better to milk three encores. And he has not gained much in his exile:or rather songs that sound well on the album, like ‘Long way down,’ were here casually thrown off, with the lyrics abruptly mangled.
There is too much of the posturing of the sensual pop star, one who appeals to men with his cleverly feminist-sexist lyrics, and not enough natural humour. It is almost George Michael without the laughs. Lloyd Cole has not yet earned a major interview in Rolling Stone and coming on like the history of rock music, with cover versions of Elvis in the encores, strains the patience.
It is quite pleasant, with atmospheric cameos in the audience – fans passing into a drugged stupor until woken by the burning joint; laid back critics bitching about Cole’s hair and face (rather podgy now that he has scraped off the macho designer stubble), but never making the leap into nirvana which the image, the album, and the truly tight and professional New York band promised. Indeed while Cole over dosed on ego Quine was too restrained in his guitar work. Perhaps Cole was tense, but if you aim to overhaul Lou Reed you must be more louche and relaxed than this.
Publication: Financial Times (London)
Publication date: 02/03/90