Do you remember 1984? Well I don’t, and for good reason: I wasn’t born yet. What I do know, however, is what music sounded like back then. 1984 was the year Lloyd Cole and his backing band The Commotions gained international recognition after the release of their debut album “Rattlesnakes”, named after one of their hit singles. Even though this record and the following solo ones never really gave Lloyd Cole the indie pop legend status that the likes of Morrissey received, the man did manage, throughout the years, to become more than “that one guy who wrote Rattlesnakes”.
Today’s true indie kids know him and cherish each of his songs with religious devotion, excitedly praising his songwriting skills, his longevity and his productivity (with almost 20 records released since the mid 80s). He might have been considered has-been for a while but did keep a solid fan base and also gained a younger audience, maybe partially thanks to being referred to in the song “Hey Lloyd, I’m ready to be heartbroken” by Camera Obscura, which echoed Cole’s “Are you ready to be heartbroken?”. I must say Lloyd Cole became one of my musical heroes very quickly after I found out about him, and I became genuinely excited when I heard he was going to play a solo acoustic gig in my tiny local indie venue.
Even though I was, by far, the youngest one in the audience, I didn’t feel misplaced at all in the packed yet intimate venue. Any doubts immediately vanished as Lloyd Cole entered the stage and started playing one of his newest masterpieces, Woman in a Bar. Time has elapsed since the releases of his first records, but his voice was as enchanting as before and its ability to communicate emotion was untouched. The third song he played was a wonderful down tempo version of the aforementioned hit Rattlesnakes, and the following ones only reassured me into believing that he definitely was more than a one-hit-wonder.
Lloyd Cole kept referring to his fans as 45 year old college professors with expensive cars and as people who deeply missed the time when they were students. This was not my case, of course, but I almost caught myself wishing I were 40 years old instead of 20, because the nostalgia older people seemed to be feeling only made the whole gig even more beautiful. His lyrics are, however, amazingly timeless and during the gig, the music almost brought tears to my eyes way more often than I could ever confess.
Far from being the bitter, self righteous man he could have become, Lloyd Cole kept thanking everyone for being here and enjoying his music. Referring to his guitar playing skills, he confessed he was “not Eric Clapton”, and as he suddenly forgot the lyrics to one of the songs, he simply said: “if you ever attend one of my gigs without noticing one of those major mistakes, then it’s probably a tribute act”, provoking the hilarity of the crowd. He also responded to Alice Cooper, who is rumoured to have said, before performing “Only Women Bleed”, that “not even Lloyd Cole has written a song about menstruation”, by playing his song “Impossible Girl”, the opening line of which is: “Bloody Monday afternoon, you want to blame it on the moon…”
After a two-hour gig, Lloyd Cole made his way backstage, leaving all those who attended the gig with stars in their eyes and smiles on their faces, including me. To put it in a nutshell, if you haven’t heard any song by Lloyd Cole yet, I can only warmly recommend checking them out because few other songwriters have managed to release as many quality choons during their career. And in an era in which a new band is turned into an over-hyped next big thing every hour, it is always comforting to have timeless pop wonders to stick to.

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Publication: Disappear Here Magazine

Publication date: 22/04/09