Lloyd Cole plays “Standards” and more at excellent, intimate Dallas gig


DALLAS, Texas – Smartly dressed and slinging a six-string acoustic guitar, singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole pleased the Kessler Theater crowd last Wednesday night with over two dozen choice cuts from a repertoire of songs spanning over 30 years.

Touring behind his fantastic new album Standards, Cole, a bit moody and self-deprecating, was in fine form, pulling not only a good chunk of material from that LP (“Kids Today,” “Women’s Studies,” “Myrtle and Rose,” “Blue Like Mars,” “Period Piece,” etc.) but starting off with his poetic Negatives song “Past Imperfect” where he slyly references Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel #2” with the line “Why was my head in the unmade bed?” while looking back at the early days of his career as Lloyd Cole, leader of the Scottish jangle-pop band The Commotions.

And speaking of “Chelsea Hotel #2,” that would turn out to be Cole’s only cover of the night, played at the end of the show (“Forest Fire,” from Rattlesnakes would prove to be the encore – a great choice – and the crowd certainly agreed). Alas, “California Earthquake,” the John Hartford song that opens Standards, was not performed this particular evening.

Nevertheless, it was a 1987 song from the Lloyd Cole and the Commotions album Mainstream (the first one I was familiar with back in high school), “Hey Rusty,” a song that had a Springsteen-meets-U2 feel (and produced by The Police’s drummer Stewart Copeland!) and stripped down as an acoustic, folk song, had an added beauty about it.

And what would a Cole show be without material from that mid-80’s heyday when Rattlesnakes wowed the critics. The title track from that  1984 LP followed “Past Imperfect” before he dug into Standards material.

And then he does a short medley with “Why I Love Country Music” (which he co-wrote with fellow Commotion Blair Cowan for 1985’s Easy Pieces) into “Like a Broken Record,” a more recent solo recording, found on Broken Record, released in 2010.

“No Blue Skies,” originally found on Cole’s self-titled 1990 album, was preceded by “Blue Like Mars” and followed by the beautiful “Butterfly,” a fan favorite from 1991’s Don’t Get Weird On Me, Babe, an album that is considered a Cole career highlight and one that features the word “babe” in the title, something Cole joked about with the crowd.

Cole would talk a little between some songs. But not too much. There was an almost clinical approach to the performance. To get 30 songs out there in a couple of hours (with a brief intermission), Cole stayed on task, while maintaining his clever banter and a bit of poking fun at himself by noting how his guitar rested a little better on his belly since he had a put on a few pounds over the holidays.

The ladies in the crowd swooned over “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?” and his pop hits with the Commotions – “Perfect Skin” and “Lost Weekend” – were deftly and precisely delivered by our man from Massachusetts-via-Buxton.

At the end of the show, Cole encouraged people to come to the lobby and purchase his CD’s

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Publication: Red Dirt Report

Publication date: 11/02/15