Lloyd Cole @ The Assembly, Leamington Spa, 23rd March 2017

lloyd cole

Looking out at a sea of Middle aged faces Lloyd Cole is still alive, in spite of what he says that his record company may think, complaining about decrepitude and paying tribute to those of his peers and idols less lucky than him. The victims of the 2016 cull; Prince,Cohen and Bowie. For all that, he’s taking the descent into the realm of the silver foxes with his tongue in his cheek. He reminds us that Jagger sang “what a drag it is getting old”; pointing out the irony that Old Mick seems to be the only one actually enjoying it!

lloyd cole

Lloyd Cole is the type of performer who has spent the last three decades at the back of the minds of anyone who was around in the mid 80s to the mid 90s. The people who sought solace in the scraps of quality represented by Lloyd and The Commotions back then post Smiths and pre-Madchester. Not that the diehard fans went away. A lot of them are here tonight with more than a few Scottish accents around the place. Not that Lloyd Cole actually went away either. He has popped up with new material regularly over the past 30 years. I’ve listened to it, even bought it, but never made a huge effort to see the bloke in the flesh.

lloyd colelloyd cole

In fact it is just over 30 years since my solitary encounter with Lloyd Cole and his band. 22nd June 1986: Simple Minds plus an under card at Milton Keynes Bowl; a day of infamy in English football. Mexico, Maradona and The Hand Of God; a great source of amusement for Scottish Bands at the top of their game.  They were well represented that day. Jim Kerr and his mates; The Waterboys and of course Lloyd Cole and The (Scottish) Commotions. They were not so charitable about the result but they could get away with it. They were loved, as well as providing welcome relief from the comedy turn Dr and the Medics, and a less than lukewarm Big Audio Dynamite.

lloyd cole

Back then Lloyd Cole seemed to be trying to be so cool as to appear a sullen standoffish icicle. It was part of the image; one that backfired as he says tonight. Trying to look neutral just made him look detached and angry, and the image stuck, and a series of album covers were born. Now he is obviously older, wiser and more affable, self deprecating and funny. After the opening Patience he stares at the seated crowd through the light and, with a smirk, reminds them that they looked a lot rougher around the edges too. Perfect Blue and Rattlesnakes quickly take care of the early part of his career and also give him a stick to beat the latecomers, reminding them what they missed.

He plays to his audience putting on a pair of spectacles to see the tuning pedal, whilst telling the tale of ditching the contact lenses because he had to put his glasses on as well just to read the paper. Lots of nods around spoke volumes about the demographic of Lloyd Cole’s fan base.

lloyd cole

For the second half his son William joins him on lead acoustic. He spends a lot of time hiding in the shadows and seems a bit nervous, not even reacting when his Dad compares him to a 24 year old be-quiffed Ian McCullough, to some laughter from the seats. Maybe William can’t identify with it, after all he is easily the youngest person in the room.

This Classic songbook tour has thirty marvellous songs from just thirteen years, 1983-1986. The mixture of solo stuff and Commotions classics sits well with the two part performance in spite a bit of shuffling of feet and expeditions to the bar on the less well known tunes. It is great to hear them in this context and some sound even better in this format; Charlotte Street and 2CV in particular. His solo material really suits the lone man and guitar vibe. The flipside is that some lose something from being stripped down. I’m not sure about Rattlesnakes, Perfect Skin or Jennifer She Said, so identifiable in the memory, as expansive, band driven tunes.

Well done to The Assembly for getting this gig, when the same will happen tomorrow in Birmingham, just up the road.  Just chatting to the people around me it’s likely that he will see the same “old faces” again.


Lloyd Cole Set List

Set 1 – Lloyd Cole solo


Perfect Blue


Sometimes it Snows in April (Prince cover)


I Didn’t Know That You Cared

Love Ruins Everything

Lonely Mile

Pretty Gone

My Bag


So You’d Like to Save the World

Jennifer She Said

Set 2 – Lloyd Cole with William Cole 


Don’t Look Back

Mr. Malcontent

Like Lovers Do

Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?

Cut Me Down

Charlotte Street

Perfect Skin



Four Flights Up

No Blue Skies

No More Love Songs

Hey Rusty

Brand New Friend (With “Heroes” ending by David Bowie)


Lost Weekend

Forest Fire


Words: Ian Gelling

Photographs: Stephanie Colledge

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *