Wednesday 5 October 2016

Lloyd Cole, Union Chapel, Islington - 3rd October 2016

I'd greatly enjoyed Lloyd Cole and the Leopards some years ago at Shepherd's Bush, so it was with some anticipation that I looked forward to seeing him perform some of his early solo and Commotions work at The Union Chapel in Islington.

I didn't know much about the Union Chapel, except it's location and the fact that, at some time, it had been a church, so it came as a bit of a surprise to find out that it's a current, working place of worship, that doubles up as a venue.

On arrival, the audience picks a space on one of the wooden pews, leaving a coat or bag, and then adjourns to the bar to await the arrival of the act.

Lloyd arrived on a stage, in front of the pulpit, with just 3 guitars on it, so it was clearly going to be a stripped back, acoustic performance, which was good for me as it would be an interesting counterpoint to the last time I'd seen him, with a full electric and percussion equipped band.

He quipped his way through the evening, one person next to me commenting that she "never knew he was so funny!", between performing songs.

He started out with Patience and Perfect Blue, two Commotions era songs, before moving onto some of his early material, which was pretty good, but I was less familiar with (I lost track of Cole after the Commotions and after the last gig picked up a couple of his, excellent, later CDs, but the early 90s were a black hole for me).

After around a dozen songs, including a few Commotions songs I didn't recognise (I guess there's a gap in my collection!), which he'd performed alone with one of two acoustic guitars, there was a short intermission.

The first part had been extremely good, with his distinct voice as strong and clear as ever (and more laconic than in his Commotion days) and the venue's acoustics were excellent, meaning that the rich lyrics were clear to hear.

After the break he returned with a 'special guest' ("It's no surprise anymore", he remarked before the break), his son, who with a second guitar provided a fuller sound, remarkably so in fact for just two guitars.

The majority of this set was Commotions materials, so the 'bigger' sound suited songs originally performed by a band, but the venue and stripped performance provided a very different, but no less enjoyable, experience to that at Shepherds Bush.

I commented previously that Lloyd Cole remained good value as a performer and this gig just reinforced that belief.

His voice is excellent and the intimate venue made him seem more relaxed than previously and he seemed to be enjoying himself, poking fun at his need to wear reading glasses OVER his contact lenses, for example.

Overall, this was a great evening's entertainment, round out by a short encore of the bouncy Lost Weekend and the iconic Forest Fire, which made the (for me) lengthy trip to (and home from) North London worthwhile.

The Union Chapel is a great venue, with good acoustics, well worth a visit if you're in easy reach, although those wooden pews get a bit hard after an hour!

Set List:

Patience (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Perfect Blue (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Sometimes it Snows in April(Prince cover)
I Didn't Know That You Cared
Love Ruins Everything
Lonely Mile(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Pretty Gone(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
My Bag(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Jennifer She Said(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)


Don't Look Back
Mr. Malcontent (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Like Lovers Do(includes I Could Never Take… more )
Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Cut Me Down (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Charlotte Street (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Perfect Skin (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
2cv(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Undressed(with false start)
No Blue Skies
No More Love Songs
Hey Rusty(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Brand New Friend (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)

Lost Weekend(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)
Forest Fire(Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song)

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