I think Lloyd Cole has become an honorary Australian. His original band, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions gained reasonable success here in the 1980′s with hits, ‘Perfect Skin’, ‘Rattlesnakes’, ‘Cut me Down’, ‘Lost Weekend’ and ‘Brand New Friend’. The band struggle with their third album (as most bands do) before calling it a day and Lloyd Cole moving onto a solo career. So why the honorary Aussie status? He simply likes it here – as he keeps touring.
This tour is in support of his 10th solo album, and three as the leader of the ‘Commotions’, titled Broken Record sees him play at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre. And best of all, I have a photographers pass to the show – in fact I was the only photographer there – wow an exclussive! Having been a fan since the early days and seen him live previously on his many tours of Sydney – I’m quite thrilled. But Lloyd Cole is an interesting entertainer, don’t expect any dazzling lights or smoke and fog machines – it’s all about the music. And of course it’s hard to capture the music in images – so do yourself a favour and listen to some of his material.
Tonight sees him playing with what he describes as ‘the small ensemble’ – that’s the two other guys supporting him on various acoustic guitars, banjos and mandolins. And they do a great job, playing a selection of songs from the full catalogue – the crowd favorite’s (both the hits and the more obscure) and also the new material from Broken Record. Apart from the music what I like about Lloyd Cole is his sharp and often dry humour. After a minor hiccup at the start of a song he tells the audience that “if you have been to a Lloyd Cole show before you will know that stuff ups are a common occurrence – and that if they don’t occur then you are at the Tribute Show”. He then goes on to add that “Shit happens!” – making a direct reference to recent events in Australian Politics. Later in the show he makes jest at his ageing self, saying that he is older and fatter then he used to be but points out the advantages of carrying a few extra kilo’s – that it provides a nice cushion for his guitar to rest on whilst he plays it, and that it also allows him enough loathing to enable him to write and sing his songs.
And loathing there is. Lloyd Cole has always been an intelligent songwriter, but like many great writers there is plenty of doom and gloom within his songs. Yes, his songs are best enjoyed later at night with a good glass of spirits or a bottle of wine. What Lloyd Cole isn’t about is top 40 commercialism. He is true to himself and his loyal following. His music is best described as country-folk-pop. Sometimes country, sometimes folk, sometimes pop. But mostly a mix that blends between each. His music will leave you with a mix of emotions, you will be inspired, saddened, uplifted (at times out of your chair) and at times humoured as you see the irony of his wisdom in both his lyrics and his music.
There is no support act tonight, its pure Lloyd Cole as he supports himself. They play two sets with an intermission in between which sees him on stage for over two hours. Like him or loathe him – he is both classy and stylish – but most of all intelligent.