I can now add another to the “artists I’d always wanted to see play live” list: Sue & I saw Lloyd Cole play an acoustic gig at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday night, in what was a really enjoyable show. I was going to qualify Cole as being “lead singer of 80’s band The Commotions”, but was clear from his two hour set that there’s very, very much more in his repertoire and career than Rattlesnakes.
Played with a brief intermission – “Go get a drink, I’ll be back in 15 minutes” – the two sets were ostensibly divided into newer stuff (first set, with one notable exception) followed by a fair mix of old and new in the second set. The notable exception came just after he explained that “you’ll probably not know any songs in this first set”, just as he broke into a thoughtful rendition of Rattlesnakes, his monster hit from 1984.
Irony was clearly not lost on the man, as he went on to explain that he wasn’t so depressed these days, but carrying an extra 5kg gave him just the right amount of self-loathing to perform the melancholy melodies of his youth!
In the second set his well-crafted ballads were interspersed with cheers of recognition for Lost Weekend, Cut Me Down, Perfect Skin and other well-known Commotions songs. He seemed to be more comfortable in the second set, largely (we think) due to the absence of an unfortunately drunk female heckler who had interrupted parts of the first set. But a great show, a terrific venue, and an incredible artist and songwriter.
One final item of note: at the bar I was queuing next to Brisbane author Nick Earls, who I was later reminded wrote a novel entitled Perfect Skin – borrowed from, we believe, the title of one of Lloyd Cole’s songs, as befits the man who also borrowed a Go-Betweens title when he wrote Bachelor Kisses. I wondered if he’d ever met the sources of his inspiration, or was just, like us, anonymous admirers in a very contented audience?