A QUARTER-century ago, a hip, 20-something pop star with Elvis-style looks and a rich voice penned cerebral songs that stuck in many a teenage brain – if only because you had to take time to work them out.

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions never cracked the top ten but songs like Perfect Skin – referencing “geometry”, “Greta Garbo'” and ‘”academia” – have proved durable even if they are not exactly Wham! Rap.

Some 25 years – and a half-dozen solo albums – later, Cole brought his Small Ensemble to the city as part of the Broken Record album tour.

The old Lloyd Cole never seemed entirely at ease with pop stardom and now, older and greyer – but then aren’t we all – he retains some of his earlier awkward performer presence.

But also present is that unique singer/songwriter voice. Electric, jangly tunes have been replaced by acoustic folk and Lost Weekend’s drugged youth has grown into middle-aged angst, but the strength of the lyrics still drives the songs.

No More Love Songs, with lines about “mutton dressed as lamb” and “beautiful boys” seems an unflinching reference to Cole’s own long career, and all the better for its honesty.

There were enough hits to keep the faithful happy but as Cole reminded them: “I’m not looking to make a comeback.” What he is doing is creating excellent new music.

But perhaps some of the energy that got the audience roaring for a second encore at the end would have spiced up a slightly tame first half.

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Publication: This is Nottingham

Publication date: 01/11/10