I noticed that Lloyd Cole was sport­ing that slight­ly tricky sar­to­r­i­al trend, dou­ble den­im. Lat­er in the set, Cole made ref­er­ence to his out­fit. He relat­ed a sto­ry about a vis­it to Austin, Texas, where at a honky tonk bar he observed “much younger women danc­ing with old­er men… who all wore dou­ble den­im”. Much of Cole’s amus­ing onstage pat­ter revolved around the indig­ni­ties of the age­ing process and had many mem­bers of the sim­i­lar­ly aged audi­ence laugh­ing in recognition.

But I digress…  this was an evening devot­ed to his ear­li­est music from 1983 to 1996. Stand­ing alone on stage, he opened with Patience, fol­lowed by Per­fect Blue, Rat­tlesnakes, My Bag, Love Ruins Every­thing and many more of his songs about love, infat­u­a­tion and rela­tion­ships gone awry. No won­der Cole’s words res­onat­ed so deeply; he explored the minu­ti­ae of the world that young lovers inhab­it, closed off and inward­ly focused, his lyrics are uni­ver­sal, an explo­ration of our emo­tion­al world. 

Cole’s voice is still deeply expres­sive and full of warmth. Some of the mate­r­i­al suit­ed Cole’s solo per­for­mance, but there were also songs I would have liked the accom­pa­ni­ment of the Com­mo­tions, to bring out the full expres­sive qual­i­ties of the mate­r­i­al. Per­fect Blue from Easy Pieces could have been so much more with the mourn­ful harmonica.

For the sec­ond half of the show Lloyd Cole intro­duces his spe­cial guest, his son William Cole, who is an accom­plished gui­tarist. It was a plea­sure to observe the close rela­tion­ship between the two. The addi­tion of an extra fig­ure on stage ramped up the evening a notch. Cole offered a few more insights into his life such as the ups and downs of the record­ing indus­try. He then brought the illu­sions of a song crash­ing down: the deli­cious and atmos­pher­ic Char­lotte Street, where “she took me down to her base­ment flat” was actu­al­ly a squat on Upper Street. Oth­er songs fol­lowed: Hey Rusty, No Blue Skies, and Per­fect Skin.

This was Lloyd Cole’s final gig of the tour. The Union Chapel audi­ence were among the most well-behaved I’ve expe­ri­enced (no talk­ing). It was a plea­sure to see Cole in such an inti­mate atmos­phere – espe­cial­ly at the love­ly Union Chapel. What I had­n’t expect­ed was to find Cole’s skills as a racon­teur, his dry, world-weary, self-dep­re­cat­ing charm, such an engag­ing part of the evening. 

Lloyd Cole. Novem­ber 4, 2016, Union Chapel, Isling­ton
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