Gig review: Julian Cope - King Tut’s, Glasgow

THERE cannot be many artists who could truthfully claim to have written songs inspired by field trips to Mount Ararat or years of literary and academic research into history’s most celebrated prophets but, as any Julian Cope fan will attest, there are not many artists like this particular renaissance dude (or, in Cope parlance, “drude”).

Julian Cope delighted the audience with his eclectic and idiosyncratic offering. Picture: Contributed
Julian Cope delighted the audience with his eclectic and idiosyncratic offering. Picture: Contributed

Julian Cope

King Tut’s, Glasgow

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Even a cursory glance at his merchandise stall says as much – volumes of rave poetry and acid fiction for sale beside music from his several specialised musical incarnations.

Cope claims fifty years of rocking experience on top of the quarter century currently being celebrated by host venue King Tut’s. Perhaps he is using some ancient druid calendar or perhaps he is just a thoroughly entertaining raconteur who has been hosting one long far-out musical party since fronting The Teardrop Explodes in the early 1980s.

Judging by this audience demographic, his fans hitched a ride back in those intermittently chart-bothering days and have stuck around every since as Cope has cut a swathe through cultdom in his regulation stormtrooper’s cap, indoor shades and leathers, wielding his 12-string guitar and a wealth of anecdotal riches concerning his lax attitude to hygiene, precise theories on latitude and Les Pattinson’s emergency tab of acid.

Cope’s musical and lyrical concerns are varied yet specific – he showcased an anti-folk song about tyrants called Cromwell In Ireland, an acoustic pastoral rumination on the economics of getting out of it entitled They Were On Hard Drugs, a born-again drinker’s anthem As The Beer Flows Over Me, which turned out to be the most idiosyncratic mourning song since Smog’s Dress Sexy At My Funeral, and the absurdly catchy C***s Can F*** Off, introduced as “the most artless song of my career” complete with a “Christmas ending”.

Favourites from his solo career were scattered among those direct ditties – the heavy and hoary Autogeddon Blues, Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed with its Pinball Wizard chords, Sunspots with simulated racecar noises and whistling solo and the ba-ba bounciness of The Greatness And Perfection Of Love – and he bookended the set with a couple of Teardrops songs, The Culture Bunker and the gloriously free and utterly tuneful debut hit Treason. Bless his cotton socks, even if he rarely washes them.