Tag Archives: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions

Cut Me Down: a night with Lloyd Cole

As the lights dimmed on the sellout crowd, a collective breath was taken. The anticipation was palpable. I was one of the many ‘first-timers’; too young to catch Lloyd Cole & The Commotions when they played Festival Hall in the late 80’s and for one reason or another missed his show a few years back at The Zoo, but tonight as Lloyd walked out of the side-of-stage darkness into the spotlight, centre stage, the 20 year wait came to a sweet end.


Cole, by his own admission, was never one for playing live, preferring to write and record music; but in recent years, this has all changed. Tonight he embodies the spirit of a folksinger. Standing on stage with nothing more than his two acoustic guitars, bottles of water and a bowl of ice, Cole draws the crowd into his world from the very first note. Most sets are studded with highlights, but Saturday night’s show was overflowing with them.

The second song of the night was a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen’s, Tower of Song. Cole, like Cohen blessed with the gift of a golden voice. Lloyd then informed us that the night would be broken up into two sets and in the tradition of the support band, he would play songs that no one would know. And then the first notes of Rattlesnakes echoed through the room… It wasn’t the jangly pop number that has featured on the soundtrack to so many lives all around the globe, no, tonight’s version was stripped back, soulful, showcasing the moody lyricism Cole is renowned for. Other tracks from the Commotions era to feature in the set were Perfect Skin, Cut Me Down, Brand New Friend, Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?, 2cv, Lost Weekend and Why I Love Country Music.

Why I Love Country Music came at a time when one young lady, who to quote Hinemoana Baker, was a little over-refreshed, was making it known she wanted to hear 2cv or in her (rather slurred) words, some of the songs with good lyrics. To say the least, several members of the crowd at that stage wanted to lynch her, but Lloyd kept everyone cool, the irony of the lyric, We don’t talk, we don’t fight/ I’m just tired, she’s way past caring, might have been lost on said lady, but the crowd loved it (I should also add that she did not make it back in for the second half of the show, so missed hearing 2cv…).

Lloyd Cole

He played songs from (almost) every album, Blue Skies and Undressed from his first solo album, Butterfly and Pay For It from Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe, Like Lovers Do and Unhappy Song from Love Story, Old Enough To Know Better from etc… Young Idealists and Woman in a Bar from Antidepressant and a swag of songs from his 2003 masterpiece Music in a Foreign Language, including my personal highlight, Late Night, Early Town, as well as a cover of the Kris Kristofferson song, Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends. And as Lloyd pointed out, he is now in peak physical condition, to perform… carrying an extra 5kg to cushion his guitar and give him the necessary self-loathing to perform some of the songs.

It was a setlist to ensure every fan went home smiling, dusting off their old vinyl, or reaching for a CD from the rack. And I have no doubt, many of them will be changed forever. That is the power of an artist at their peak; they take you somewhere and bring you back richer for the experience… Cole has that transformative power, and I am thankful to have felt its pull.

For those who want to check out what I am talking about, here’s a few links to recent live performances:

Cut Me Down

Perfect Skin
Pay For It


Filed under events & opportunities, who listens to the radio?

LitRock Songs

Issa’s Untidy Hut has long been one of my favourite blogs, serving up some of the finest ‘little’ poems from the Lilliput Review, poetic explorations into the lives and art of poets and of course Issa’s Sunday Service. The Sunday Service features a song which bridges the gap between rock and literature in some fashion… it may be a reference, it may be the artist themselves or it may be that the words demand closer attention. However it happens, we all know music and literature are not as far removed as some would like to think.  And now, Issa’s Sunday Service has put the call out for submissions of your favourite LitRock Songs and to make it even sweeter, if yours is selected, you receive the two current issues of The Lilliput Review.

Now as you know, I am a huge believer in Ezra Pound’s famous words:

poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music

so here’s a few of my LitRock recommendations for you to dip into…

And please, drop your suggestions to me as a comment, I am always up for some listening and don’t forget to email them to the Lilliput Review for consideration (be sure to check out the first 27 tracks before emailing).


lloyd cole#3

Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions

When it comes to Lloyd Cole, there are a number of tracks I could have selected – Rattlesnakes for it’s Simone de Beuvior reference; Perfect Skin for its lyric, Louise is the girl with the perfect skin/ she says turn on the light, otherwise it can’t be seen/ she’s got cheekbones like geometry and eyes like sin/ and she’s sexually enlightened by cosmopolitan; Weird On Me for using a line from Raymond Carver – but I have gone for the lesser known Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? Originally recorded as part of the Rattlesnakes sessions, I chose this song for it’s wonderful Norman Mailer reference and all round lyricism. And with Lloyd playing Brisbane’s Powerhouse tonight, his words have been circling my brain. Be sure to watch the clip above…

Here’s a snapshot of the lyrics:

Pumped up full of vitamins
On account of all the seriousness
You say you’re so happy now
you can hardly stand
Lean over on the bookcase
If you really want to get straight
Read Norman Mailer
Or get a new tailor

Are you ready to be heartbroken?

(read the complete lyrics here)




It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City – Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band

Let’s face it, any song from Springsteen’s first few albums could be included and then there are the tracks from Nebraska & his much overlooked album The Ghost of Tom Joad. The man has penned some of the greatest lyrics of his era. And before I go further into the lyrics of Saint in the City, if you don’t get goosebumps watching this live clip of a young, hungry E-Street Band, tearing up The Hammersmith Odeon on their first tour of Britain, then you need to check your pulse. The way Bruce conducts the whole band here is intense and the guitar duel between he and Little Stevie is white hot. But back to why I chose It’s Hard to be  Saint in the City. Well, it’s purely on the lyric. Springsteen’s early work had that wild, sprawling, carnival feel… all shifting perspectives, haunted visions, streetwise toughness & heady romanticism. Saint is a classic and for mine makes the list every time.

Check out these lyrics:

And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
As the tracks clack out the rhythm their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
But it’s too hot in these tunnels you can get hit up by the heat
You get up to get out at your next stop but they push you back down in your seat
Your heart starts beatin’ faster as you struggle to your feet
Then you’re outa that hole and back up on the street

And them South Side sisters sure look pretty
The cripple on the corner cries out “Nickels for your pity”
And them downtown boys sure talk gritty
It’s so hard to be a saint in the city

(read the complete lyrics here)



Steve Kilbey

Swan Lake – The Church

Steve Kilbey, like Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan et al. is a poet in his own right. Having released three books – Earthed, Nineveh/The Ephemeron & Fruit Machine – plus the broadsheet, Eden alongside more than 20 albums with The Church (not to mention the myriad other side and solo projects), Kilbey has more than proved his literary credentials. 1992’s Priest=Aura album was a turning point in my own personal history. The albums dense textures and sublime lyricism turned me inside out and set me off in search of poetry. I could have chosen any one of the songs from this album but for now, I will settle with the fragile beauty of Swan Lake.

One night your shoulders will ache
But next day when you wake
You’ll sprout wild wings, and fly high
Just like in Swan Lake

(complete lyrics here)

And for everyone in Australia, don’t forget the band is touring nationally throughout November. Full tour dates are listed on the band’s website.



Filed under who listens to the radio?