Tag Archives: Music in a Foreign Language

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?

The New Folk pt II

Well to tell the truth, these folk have been putting out great music for the last decade or so (in Lloyd’s case the last three and a bit). But not one of these artists is trading on nostalgia and for me that is one of the things that is crucial to longevity. So here’s my soundtrack to this perfect Saturday morning… Sparklehorse, Lloyd Cole & Gareth Liddiard (The Drones), I hope it helps brighten yours.



Home Coming Queen – Sparklehorse

This is from the first Sparklehorse album, vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. Sparklehorse mainman, Mark Linkous has been described as defiantly surreal. And like the surrealist shapeshifter, his work has defied genre and boundary. Most recently, Linkous teamed up with renowned DJ, Dangermouse and dark master of film, David Lynch for the Dark Night of the Soul project. Just love the warmth of this song…



Late Night, Early Town – Lloyd Cole

Most people hear the name Lloyd Cole and expect to hear and the Commotions in the same breath, but the truth is, Lloyd has released a string of brilliant solo albums since the Commotions days ended in the late 80’s. This song is taken from the ridiculously underrated 2003 album, Music in a Foreign Language. And it provides a great taste of things to come, as Lloyd makes his way to Australia in November for a show at The Powerhouse on November 7. I have my ticket… what about you?



Sharkfin Blues – Gareth Liddiard (The Drones)

Known more for their cathartic blues rave ups, this stripped back version of Shark Fin Blues from the sublimely titled 2005 album, Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By, highlights the beautiful menace of this song… They’re coming fin by fin until the whole boat sinks. Beautiful stuff!

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