Lloyd Cole has been on a nostalgia trip for the best part of eight months, a time he has dubbed “my retrospective year”, touring “old songs only” drawn from the years 1983 up to 1998, which encompasses pretty much everything in his repertoire which would count as a hit. “You’re not getting any younger either,” he noted wryly of his audience of peers, as he punted special end-of-tour deals on his new box set of solo recordings.
Lloyd Cole ****
Oran Mor, Glasgow
And what better place to end this particular nostalgia trip than the former adopted hometown where it all started for Cole as the earnest student-turned-urbane frontman of Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, a 1980s Glasgow beat combo whose music has weathered rather finely over the ensuing decades.
For all his droll self-deprecation, Cole must know the strength of his hand. These songs sounded box fresh in solo acoustic form, both young and wise, ready to be appreciated in the here and now, and to kick the behind of younger troubadour pretenders like Ed Sheeran, who has yet to set and embellish a scene as effectively as Cole did on the likes of 2CV or dash off a pop song as sophisticated yet quirky as Perfect Skin.
The gorgeous Patience popped up first, sounding like it was written yesterday, with Cole’s voice, just slightly divested of its mannerisms, bearing none of the wear and tear of a lengthy tour.
Perfect Blue was just that, backlit in indigo, and the deathless Rattlesnakes was reworked with simplified backing, and Cole filling in the gaps by humming some of the guitar melody.
Along the way, Cole worked in seamless snippets of The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood, Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat and Bowie’s Heroes, though the greatest embellishments came in the second half when he was joined on guitar by his son William, rocking the classic Roddy Frame/Mary Chain tousled moptop man-in-black look, to provide additional acoustic shading and texture, some plangent picking on Mister Malcontent and an impressive Frame-like flourish on Like Lovers Do, which elicited a delighted and impressed round of applause.
Cole Jr was more than equal to the gorgeous chiming intro of Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken? Meanwhile, the contented crowd supplied supplementary vocals for a host of Commotions classics leading up to the almost casual climax of Forest Fire, still burning brightly among gems galore.