By Matt Brown
March 15, 2012
When referencing back pain and disappointing t-shirt sales as the enduring memories of this tour, Lloyd Cole tends to perpetuate the perception of a ‘grumpy old man’ persona. However with a bucketful of charm and self-deprecation he treads effortlessly on the right side of endearing without veering off into self-pity.
A thoroughly enjoyable, light-hearted 2 hours spent with a man with a guitar in a church didn’t sound on the cards, but Lloyd Cole has obviously spent his years building experience in how to disarm your audience. Granted, his guitar playing sticks to a workmanlike busker style, but he has developed a voice warm in tone that seems to have lost some of the self-conscious affectedness of the ’80s. Prone to the occasional bum chord and lyric amnesia, it takes a loveable character to not just keep the crowd on your side, but appreciate his fallibility.
Starting off with tracks drawn from the recent Broken Records album, the first half of the show highlighted his current country and folk leaning which his residence in the US seems to influence. It’s a more direct style than the wordiness of his earlier output many would be used to. More immediate and more open than the songs of a man 25 years ago jangling his nerves in time to a guitar.
Quips over getting back for the babysitters and the awkwardness of spending time with roadies fill the gaps between songs. Dead-panning the audience before the interval (“I’ve been the warm-up act, and after the break…..I’m headlining”) and launching into a very passable Tom Waits impression during the end, Cole knows his audience well enough to risk a joke.
By the time we’re nearing the end he’s casting out ‘Forest Fire’, ‘Perfect Skin’ and ‘Lost Weekend’ like some playlist playthings. Reverential gasps come from the church congregation. Book-ending the show with his two songs referencing Amsterdam (‘Past Imperfect’ and ‘Lost Weekend’) was a nice touch picked up by many. Didn’t quite conclude in tears, but I’m quite sure I spotted a few moist eyes in the house.