When Lloyd Cole emerged with the Commotions in 1984, he was the epitome of cool, audacious enough to rhyme “Norman Mailer” with “get a new tailor”. It’s difficult to reconcile this with the flustered figure who bounces on stage late tonight and mucks up the first song. “I’ve had one of those days,” he admits. “Mind you, if you see one of my concerts without a load of fuck-ups, you know it’s a tribute act.”
This is definitely the real Cole. He looks fabulous, hardly a day older than in 1984, but he has forgotten to organise proper lighting, so he’s in the dark on stage and cannot read his words. Someone steps up from the crowd to offer him a torch. Then everybody cheers when someone arrives with an even bigger torch. Lloyd Cole as a comic – who would have thought it?
However, he’s still pouring out the songs. These days, the one-liners are a little more tongue-in-cheek – “No longer driven to distraction, not even by Scarlett Johansson” – and the mood is wistful. Cole reveals that he wrote his first song about middle age when he was 26. His 2006 song The Young Idealists, which uses a market crash as a metaphor for the death of youthful optimism, seems astonishingly prescient.
A clutch of songs from the Commotions’ debut, Rattlesnakes, concludes with a magical 2cv. Someone shouts for T Rex’s The Slider and Cole reels it off impeccably. “It’s funny how one can remember someone else’s lyrics,” he chuckles, “and forget one’s own.”
Show Rating: 4/5 Stars.
Publication: The Guardian
Publication date: 16/01/09