GOOD evening,” says Lloyd Cole to the seated crowd of 40-somethings. My, how things change. The last time I went to a Lloyd Cole gig my friend got booted in the face and had a nose bleed as people stage-dived.

Now, almost 24 years on… it’s Lloyd with no Commotions, just his acoustic guitar and a two-hour set of gorgeous pop songs, each with a story.

“This isn’t an ’80s show or a comeback,” remarks Lloyd, just to get things straight.

I may have missed out on several years of Lloyd albums, but he’s never truly gone away. He’s released around 14 studio albums in the last 30 years, and only three of these were with said Commotions. However, apart from his mop of grey hair, he looks exactly the same – dressed in black, wandering on to the stage looking down at the floor and going straight into his first song, Past Imperfect.

It’s after this that the polite repartee starts with Lloyd’s droll sense of humour. The second song, To The Church, features a line about 45-year-olds: “When I wrote this I thought 45 was awfully old,” says Lloyd, and the audience chuckles in agreement, many wishing they could be 45 once more.

Lloyd plays song after song, without introducing any of them, and the audience sing-along in whispers, or simply smile at this song-writing hero. There’s a slight American twang to Lloyd’s voice these days as he talks briefly between songs; while his singing voice is as clear and melodic as ever. His accomplished guitar playing is crisp and light too.

Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? gets the biggest applause of the night when we hear the opening chords, and many of his best-known hits are peppered throughout the set – Rattlesnakes, Perfect Skin, Lost Weekend, Jennifer She Said – while others – Brand New Friend and Forest Fire – are saved for the encore.

There’s a nod to Roy Orbison when he plays It’s Too Late; and Lou Reed, with Pale Blue Eyes. Did we also hear a little Boys Don’t Cry riff, a la The Cure? Lloyd, you’re a legend.

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Publication: Bristol Post

Publication date: 06/11/13