To the rather lovely (and surprisingly spacious, given its frontage) Harrogate Theatre to see 1980s indie-darling, Lloyd Cole. Sporting a rather unfortunate moustache, greying hair and carrying a little more weight these days, he was supported by his son William, looking more like the young Lloyd than Lloyd himself now does. Cole’s first three albums, as Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, were pretty big on the indie scene but, once Cole relocated to the US and released albums as a solo artist, he pretty much disappeared from UK airplay. He’s understandably a little sensitive about this, as his comment “those of you who’ve followed me since 1985…” shows. His post-Commotions work, with the exception of 2006’s Antidepressant, probably isn’t quite up to the standard he’d set in those first three albums, but each of the remaining albums has moments and all of the albums are at least pretty good – just not quite so memorably catchy overall.
Here tonight, Lloyd (and William) provided acoustic versions of songs from throughout his career, and included a song to be included on his next album due next year. The songs from his Commotions days get a little reworking, so that they work with just two guitars, and William takes the lead guitar role throughout, also joining in on occasional vocals, and they alternate vocals on a cover of the Velvet Underground’s Pale Blue Eyes. The mood of the gig is indulgent and warm (too indulgent in the case of one pisshead who was overly enthusiastic each time he recognised a song, sang along loudly to one song and had to crawl up the steps midway through the first half to get out of the theatre, either to replenish his lager or to empty the previous ones).
There is no warm up act, with Cole taking an interval midway through. This catches out many of the audience who have timed their arrival to see only the second, “main”, half. Consequently, the first half is not performed in front of a very full auditorium, and is disturbed frequently by people finding their seats. This isn’t too much of a problem as Lloyd doesn’t seem phased or insulted by the (fairly low-key) disturbances in the audience. There are frequent changes of guitar, and tunings, between songs but this doesn’t take too long, Lloyd chats to the audience and explains that, with only two guitars providing instrumental support, they have to take more than normal pains to ensure they remain in tune, so the gaps aren’t irritating. Lloyd is not the most chatty of frontmen, but he appeared affable and relaxed and there was a real charm in the evening.
It’s the earlier work, as is to be expected, that usually gets the best response but the fairly heavy representation from 2010’s Broken Record, the last record to have been released, drives me back to play the CD again and it impresses me more on each listen.