Review: Two sets of Lloyd Cole might seem like a lot, but the man’s long stopped playing to an audience that weren’t entirely on board (and who, to describe the demographic in the most generous terms possible, had clearly been on board for the best part of 30 years). Flanked by black-clad guitarists Mark Schwaber and Matt Cullen, who also occasionally swapped to banjo and mandolin, the Small Ensemble showed their value from the outset with a beautifully embellished ‘No Blue Skies’ that began a night of gentle, if spirited, music interspersed with a hell of a lot of tuning breaks and wry quips, primarily themed around purchasing Cole’s new albums at the merch desk (which was a good idea – ‘Broken Record’ is as good an album as he’s made).

That being said, he’s still genuinely got it. Sure, it would take him actually opening fire on an audience to unseat my love for him, but I was accompanied by someone who’d never knowingly heard a Cole song and who thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Part of it is Cole’s voice, which just gets richer and more mellifluous with every passing year, and part of it is just that he writes amazing songs. Yes, the tracks from his 1984 debut Rattlesnakes drew the biggest response (and it was well represented with the title track, ‘Perfect Skin’, ‘Forest Fire’, ‘2CV’ and ‘Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?’) the new material was received enthusiastically, and much of the songs boasted wonderful new arrangements which showed off just how much the Ensemble added to the sound – particular highlights included the almost chorus-free ‘Like Lovers Do’ and Schwaber hammering his mandolin for the lively keyboard hook of ‘Lost Weekend’. He may be singing to the choir these days, but the choir certainly appreciate it.

Andrew P Street

Set 1
No Blue Skies
That’s Why I Love Country Music
Perfect Skin
Like a Broken Record
Don’t Look Back
My Other Life
Margo’s Waltz
Trigger Happy
So You’d Like to Save the World
Writer’s retreat!
Why in the World?
I’m Gone
Like Lovers Do

Set 2
Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?
Impossible Girl
If I Were A Song
The Lady Came From Baltimore /Reason to Believe
My Alibi
Woman in a bar
Man Overboard
Old Enough to Know Better/No More Love Songs
Late Night Early Town
Forest Fire

Lost Weekend

Original article link is now dead

Publication: Time Out Magazine

Publication date: 14/02/11