Lloyd Cole City Recital Hall, January 15
Possibly the only thing drier than Lloyd Cole’s humour is a White Cliffs backyard at the moment.
“I’m about to be nearer 60 than 50 and my hair is all I have left,” he said after asking the audience to tell him if the hair over his ears was sticking out embarrassingly each time he had to put glasses on to tune his guitar.
“You’re not getting any younger either,” he said pre-emptively more than defensively, before playing his early hit Rattlesnakes.
And in the second half when the elegantly grey Englishman went from solo to jangly duo with his shock-of-dark-hair son William on (excellent) guitar, he told the room “you can imagine how long I had to search to find someone who looked just like me … if I had been in Echo and the Bunnymen”.
Probably the only thing more enjoyable than Lloyd Cole’s concert featuring this humour will be said White Cliffs backyard when the rains finally break the heat wave.
And this from a man not shamelessly, not even reluctantly, but boldly, brazenly wearing double denim. With comfortable fit jeans.
Actually, the double denim was perfectly appropriate, tonally if not necessarily as fashion.
In solo acoustic mode, material pretty much at an even tempo and temper, Cole and his wordy, melodic, knowingly observed songs drawn from 1983 to 1996, cast back to the 1970s singer/songwriter world.
Not the famed LA crowd of James Taylor, Jackson Browne et al, but the likes of David Ackles and Tim Hardin.
From Patience, his earliest song and set opener, to Jennifer She Said, which closed the solo first half, we got crafted folk pop sung with economy but self-contained passion; stories which more than they had on record, seemed felt, not just described; and more than a hint of intricacy, musically and emotionally, behind the people and the songs.
Not bad songs either. Songs with hooks and wit. Songs with marvellous guitar interplay between Coles senior and junior during the more pop-driven second half.
Songs which were augmented - sometimes in full cover mode, at other times in passing - by nods to Prince, in particular, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, the Go-Betweens, and even Bruce Springsteen.
A lot of songs too: two sets of 15 songs each and a two-song encore across two hours. And not one of them unnecessary or aged out of relevance.
As he pointed out, “I became interested in the idea of middle-age a little prematurely … at 26”, a decision which in hindsight seems very smart for a long career.
Unlike the double denim, comfortable fit, possibly.