ThomasOShea's current selection is:
Perfect Skin [Live at the Gardyne Theatre, Dundee - 10 October 2019]
by Lloyd Cole
Cole Bunker

Lloyd Cole at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall | 'From Rattlesnakes To Guesswork 2019 Tour' | Monday 14 October 2019

The tone of the evening was set almost from the get-go, as a lean-looking Lloyd took to the stage shortly after 8pm. (“Addicted to exercise, now” he’d stated on Twitter earlier in the day. “I’ll balloon if I don’t burn the cals.”)

Equally laconic delivery greeted his first audience address, having started his opening set with ‘Past Imperfect’ and ‘Kids Today’; “so, you’ve probably noticed by now that I am your support act tonight….playing the songs you don’t want to hear”.

This was patently untrue (especially as he did ‘Rattlesnakes’ straight after), with the crowd lapping up the solo acoustic readings of tracks from across his now 36-year career, up to and including the current Guesswork album released back in July, which, it is pointed out, “doesn’t contain any acoustic guitar on it….making playing the songs a bit of a challenge. But we like a challenge, right?”

Further to this, it is explained that as the last tour was centred around the ‘Classic Songbook 1983-1996’, the intention is to focus mainly on selections that didn’t get an airing during that UK jaunt of three years ago.

That included a gig at the Epstein Theatre further back down the hill, which was announced as “the best one we played” in a matter of fact, rather than ingratiating, way. “So much so, that we got a bit excited and decided to play here this time. (*pause*) It’s a much bigger place, isn’t it? (*longer pause*) Thank you for filling the bottom half of it, at least.”

As such, lesser-fêted album cuts such as ‘2cv’ and ‘Vin Ordinaire’ plus several from the new record, including ‘Violins’, dominated the show, though space was obviously still made for some of the singles like ‘Jennifer She Said’, ‘No Blue Skies’ and my selection here.

As shown in the recent live video clip I’ve found, after the interval, Lloyd had been joined for the second half of the performance by erstwhile Commotion Neil Clark, who added extra six-stringed accompaniment to expand the sound on some of the (perhaps) more elaborate material.

‘Perfect Skin’ was played back-to-back with ‘Lost Weekend’ to close the main body of the show, it being noted inbetween that “we can’t play that last one as fast as we used to and we can’t play this next one as high as we used to”.

Nonetheless, everyone in attendance were more than happy to hear a songwriting craftsman exploring his work in somewhat of a troubadour style, financial considerations certainly playing a part in the trade-off between needing to tour and being able to do it in as cost-effective a way as possible – the 2016 gigs were run in the same way, only with Lloyd’s (I think) elder son being employed as the second guitar player.

An argument could be made that it allows his songs to be ‘heard’ better, with less musical adornment stripping them back to their basic essence and allowing the words, rather than the playing, to take centre stage. More economical performances also allow for more material to be performed during the two hours or so of total stage time (“it’s a long show….it’s not quite Bruce - but it is a long show.”)

It is also a show long on personality, deadpan wit and light shed onto some neglected corners of a generally neglected (with notable exception) catalogue that has perhaps never been afforded the critical kudos of a Costello, or even a direct contemporary such as Billy Bragg, but certainly has much to offer and explore. Which, hopefully, Lloyd still does himself as he edges close to his 60th birthday (in just over a year's time).


#GigAntics [Setlist from one of last week's shows, but as far as I can tell pretty much identical to last night's]
Posted: 15th October 2019
Thomas O'Shea
RadiO'Shea: The Jukebox Of My Mind - Even The Happy Songs Sound Sad (TM) 'It's Too Late To Start Now!'
Nothing currently playing...