IT WAS the kind of audience you felt faintly uneasy at being part of. A Capacity throng, of whom about 12 seemed aware that The Commotions had split. Lloyd and band commence with an eerily accurate version of The Beatles’ sordid, leering “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” and the response is bafflement.

As if to re-assure, Lloyd spools of the bright tangle of notes that form the intro to “Perfect Skin”. There’s something about the song that still gets the sap rising, even if the rendition is somewhat peremptory. “Big Snake”, conversely, has put on about 15 pounds of muscle-the weakest point on Mainstream” transformed into the steamy, ravaged confessional it always should have been.

Lloyd gamely runs through a clutch of new numbers. “No Blue Skies” struggles to find the single’s spacey elegance but “Downtown”, “I Hate To See You Baby…” and “What Do You Know About Love?” are all effectively sour and brooding, with just the right measure of sleaze and nobility.

His stage demeanour is still that of the cripplingly shy child prodigy on prize-giving day. He apologises for everything; for sighing, for losing his place in the set. He has absolutely no common sense and you know that’s his charm.

“It’s about now you’re supposed to get sick of the new stuff.” Huge, dumb roar of consent. “Cheers,” he remarks, disgustingly amused and “Mr. Malcontent” is greeted ecstatically; one or two plucky nymphets even attempting to dance, positively the last thing you should do to a Lloyd Cole song. “Sweetheart” is a gas; “20th Century Boy” seen through the bottom of a Cuervo Gold bottle and littered with camp “right ons”.

It’s a fine show, if a flawed one (Only an hour? No “Forest Fire”, no “undressed”?). The encores are terrific. A bar band romp through Elvis’ “Little Sister” and a lovely languid stroll through Lou Reed’s “I’m Just A Gift To The Women Of This World”.

A sadly representative tosser calls out “play some of your own songs” Lloyd dispatches “Jennifer She Said” with something approaching aggression. The most lovable schmuck in show business is back, annoying the hell out of everybody and tickling the life out of me

Publication: NME

Publication date: 03/03/90