09 February 2020 (gig)
09 February 2020
It was a welcome sight to see Julian Cope on stage at the Barbican. The iconic venue adds a dash of panache to any tour roster with the creative arts embedded in its concrete walls. Buy tickets below.
Support came from pianist Tom Hickox, accompanied by guitar. A talented songwriter with many stories to tell, his deep-set vocal style, reminiscent of 'Crash Test Dummies.' He closed the set with ‘Monsters In The Deep’ the title track of his new album which I’m sure is well worth a listen.
Julian Cope walked on stage all in black with airline pilot style hat covering his long flowing grey locks, sleeveless hoodie, shorts and leather boots. As he later stated, he wasn’t aiming to win any fashion awards. Cope has always done things his own way.
Not even taking into account the first three 'Teardrop Explodes' albums, Cope’s solo career output has been extensive, somewhere in the region of 34 albums excluding at least another 10 live and compilation releases. No one can accuse Cope of artistic restraint. When you factor in the endless side projects, collaborations and his historical and fiction writing you start to wonder if this guy ever stops. Drugs are a frequent creative topic and may help explain certain aspects and his endless psychedelic fascination but the simple answer is that Cope clearly loves his artistic outlets, and evenings such as this are a chance to celebrate the inner machinations of his mind.
‘Your Facebook My Laptop’ takes a swipe at social media while ‘They Were On Hard Drugs’ labels our ancient predecessors as hard-core drug users.
The first Teardrop Explodes song came in the welcome shape of ‘The Greatness & Perfection of Love’ which sees Copes trademark vocal in good shape and works well in this acoustic one man show environment. Switching between 12 string acoustic and electric the phaser pedal makes several appearances.
Not averse to the odd swear word ‘C***s Can F**k Off’ really ramps up the profanity rating in a tuneful fat cat bashing. Part of Cope’s charm is his undeniable charisma. The man doesn’t have to utter a word to gain a favourable crowd reaction as his initial long stroll onto the stage confirmed. It was three decades ago I last saw Cope back in the then Town & Country Club in Kentish Town. Things have certainly changed and he’s now a raconteur with humorous anecdotes taking the lion share of the stage time and in a gig-reversal of sorts it was the segments between the songs that I found myself drawn to.
‘Passionate Friend’ brings back welcome memories and ‘Out of My Mind on Dope & Speed’ closes the evening and quite possibly defines the man’s character.
A creative force that shows no signs of slowing down. It’s as if he’s created his own world to protect himself from the real madness that surrounds us all, and we were all pleased to share in a little of that eccentric spirit that makes Cope tick.
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