Lloyd Cole at G Live review ****


Lloyd Cole

G Live, Guildford, 3rd March 2018

No idea why I like the music of grouchy, arch, wistful, charter of failing relationships,  Lloyd Cole. I have never felt sorry for myself in my life. Well maybe a bit. Oh alright then, practically every day. Here is a man who, at least early on, in the 3 albums with the Commotions and 4 solo albums which span the period of this Retrospective Tour, re-invented the pop music staple love song with indelible melodies, demon hooks and ridiculously clever lyrics.

It has been a very long time since i saw him him live, 1985 I think, Hammersmith, Palais or Odeon, I can’t remember. I should have made more of an effort to renew the acquaintance based on this gig. So what do we get? Stripped back acoustic versions of pretty much all his classic songs, which I detail below thanks to someone with a better memory than me, a marvellous take on Leonard Cohen, one of his heroes I think, and a winning line in self-deprecation. This primarily revolves around his age (he’s now 57) though as he remarks most of these songs written between 1983 and 1996 (bar one, Myrtle and Rose, dedicated to his Mum in the audience – awwh) come from the hand of some-one older than his years.

Now I gather in some gigs in the tour he has been joined on stage in the second half by one of his sons which I can see may have pepped things up a bit. Not a criticism. These arrangements are wonderful and Mr Cole is, and has always been an adept guitarist, but there were one or two moments where I missed some of the complexity of the lines which makes him a genius songwriter. Not the words, they still sound as fresh and inventive as ever, but the instrumental hooks which pepper the songs. On the other hand, I reckon his voice, for the Commotions songs especially, may be better than in his youth. Richer, deeper, more soulful as you’d expect but still absolutely clear and not at all ragged as with some “old” pop stars.

Dragged the SO along. She’s no fan, and this didn’t convert her, but was won over by his humour. He even has special words of recognition for the patient multitude of unwilling partners dragged along here.

So if you are, or were, a fan, a triumph. My favourites? I Din’t Know That You Cared, My Bag, Butterfly/Famous Blue Raincoat, Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?, No Blue Skies, Perfect Skin and, obviously, Forest Fire (which is one of my favourite songs of all time anyway).

Once again I find myself reviewing an event that is over, by which I mean the tour, unless you happy to be near the Theatre Royal Margate tonight. If he does pop up again anywhere near you, and you are umming and ahhing over going. Don’t. Just go. At the very least you will see loads of fifty-somethings with terrible dress sense from around your area.

  • Patience
  • Perfect Blue
  • Rattlesnakes
  • Loveless
  • I Didn’t Know That You Cared
  • Love Ruins Everything
  • Pretty Gone
  • Charlotte Street
  • My Bag
  • Butterfly
  • Famous Blue Raincoat
  • So You’d Like To Save The World
  • Jennifer She Said
  • Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?
  • Like Lovers Do
  • Cut Me Down
  • Brand New Friend
  • Why I Love Country Music
  • No Blue Skies
  • 2cv
  • Undressed
  • Don’t Look Back
  • Mr Malcontent
  • No More Love Songs
  • Hey Rusty
  • Perfect Skin
  • Lost Weekend
  • Myrtle and Rose
  • Four Flights Up
  • Forest Fire




Milton Jones “Is Out There” at Shanklin Theatre review ****


Milton Jones: Is Out There

Shanklin Theatre, 16th February 2018

The sunniest place in Britain is Shanklin. Fact. Don’t be deceived by imposters on the South Coast claiming this accolade. It is Shanklin. And, as any fool knows, the Isle of Wight is a paradise on Earth. Beautiful scenery, fascinating history, plenty to do, loads of places to eat, proper British beaches.

Now I admit Shanklin itself is not at the cutting edge of holiday fashion. But if you like crazy golf, amusement arcades, ice-cream, fish and chips, sand between your toes and brutalist lift structures, (to take you down to the front), then this is the place for you. And not too far away is, IMHO, the best eatery in Britain, in the form of the Taverners in Godshill.

Shanklin Theatre, like the town itself, and the IoW, is a bit rough around the edges. That’s why I like it. It’s a proper old style theatre which does a nice line in am-dram, tribute bands and, especially, comedy, and serves the town well.

So, as this is the Tourist’s home away from home, this is where he the SO and LD chose to see the unique wordsmith that is Milton Jones. The regular reader of this blog may be aware that the Tourist’s tolerance for stand-up comedians is low. Milton Jones though is on the approved list along with Lee, Christie, Kitson and Vine. Most of then are just way too lazy in their choice of material. This is not a criticism that can be levelled at Mr Jones. The madcap exterior belies a fierce intelligence. In this latest show he adopts the device of an off-stage publicist putting him up for all suits of unsuitable comedy job opportunities. That is the, admittedly, tenuous thread that holds the show together.

Oh that and Brexit. Now for those that know Milton Jones from previous shows or from his turns on the telly might be surprised that he incorporates the issue de jour. However there is, and has always been, a layer of absurdist satire beneath the wacky wordplay and he puts it to good use here. Which, in the context of the IoW, a firm Leave bastion, created a little bit of enjoyable frisson in the air. This was helped by some adept put-downs from support act Chris Stokes aimed at a bone-headed heckler. Livened his act up immensely and even gave Milton Jones something to work with.

Now the real pleasure in an MJ show, in addition to his brilliant ideas, is hearing the audience react. I get the majority of the jokes, but there are a few that get away, and some that require a little time to sink in. Multiply these reaction times by a few hundred, combined with the pace of MJ’s delivery, and it means that, with a few pauses, the laughter is pretty much continuous. I can’t pretend that many of the lines stick, blame the Tourist’s faltering memory, but no matter, when the pleasure is in just being there.

There are still a couple of months left on the tour. If he is coming anywhere near you just go. You will be hard pressed to find a funnier 90 minutes or so of entertainment anywhere else.

The Wedding Present at Cadogan Hall review ****


The Wedding Present

Cadogan Hall, 14th October 2017

Regular readers of this blog (remember chums, the best clubs are exclusive) will be aware that the Tourist doesn’t really do “gigs”. It is all a bit loud for his aged ears. The number of bands/artists he would pay money to see is severely limited and dwindling in number thanks in part to the Grim Reaper. Many venues are beyond the pale on the grounds of comfort, excessive booziness (the Tourist has taken a vow of abstinence following many happy years of excess) or claustrophobia. Festivals need friends and time, both of which the Tourist seems unable to cultivate.

Here though was a rare, and, as it turned out, wonderful exception. Even the most casual observer of the pop panoply  will know that, to paraphrase the immortal JP, “the boy Gedge has written some of the best songs of the Rock n Roll era”. He has also written some of the best tunes, and created some of the greatest guitar melodies. The latest Wedding Present double album, Going, Going …, is, I admit, maybe not their finest work, but it is still, like the albums The Fall and Wire churn out, light years ahead of anything the youth can create. I pray Gedge has finished yet.

It does begin in a strange vein with four post-rock instrumental tracks, Kittery, Greenland, Marblehead and Sprague, with slower tempi and expansive dynamics. A small choir and a classical ensemble (strings and a trumpet) are used to grand effect. Given that this concert was a run through of the album, said choir and players were up there on stage with the band. The contrast between Dave Gedge’s and Marcus Kain’s driving guitar rhythms, Charlie Layton’s thumping drums and Danielle Wadey’s swirling bass, and the wordless choir and soaring strings, maybe works a bit better on the recording than live but it is still a worthwhile departure. The good news is that from Two Bridges onwards, we get back firmly into classic WP territory, with professional Yorkshireman Gedge muttering the usual maudlin, but somehow still intensely moving, poems on failed relationships and unrequited love over the pumping (less jangling) rhythms we know and love.

Smashing stuff. A few pretentious black and white landscape films to add to the mix, some proper cranking up to 11 of the guitars in parts, and even a couple of encores, Perfect Blue from Take Fountain, and, as the reward for the patient enthusiast, the classic fugal Bewitched from Bizarro. What a racket at the end. Now I have to say of all the varied material from Going, Going …, which looks back to a lot of Gedge’s previous songs, my favourite is Rachel, which is a preposterously catchy, innocent pop masterpiece. I am also partial already to Little Silver, Birdsnest, Bells, Broken Bow and Santa Monica (the final track which culminates with some painful but exquisite chord progressions).

Best of all it was at the Cadogan Hall. One of my favourite venues (though my last visit was to hear some Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues and a capella Poem settings – pick the bones out of that contrast). Nice little perch in the balcony. Loud enough but not deafening. Lots of room around me. And what seemed like a nice crowd with just enough distinctive quirkiness and maturity.

Now there was a time kids, in 1990 I think, when the Wedding Present churned out Top 40 hits at breakneck speed. I appreciate that is likely pre-history to you, but if you were to listen to Grandad’s ravings, (me not Gedge though the vintage is comparable), here are 10 you might start with. (Hopefully they are on that Spotify).

  • Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft from George Best
  • What Did You Last Servant Die Of from George Best
  • Shatner from George Best
  • Brassneck from Bizarro
  • Kennedy from Bizarro
  • Take Me from Bizarro
  • Corduroy from Seamonsters
  • Octopussy from Seamonsters
  • Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk from El Rey
  • You’re Dead from Valentina