Tag Archives: Oxford

Two Summer Saturdays

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It’s been quite a nice summer here in this patch of the UK. June was lovely – sunny and warm and very little rain. I suppose that’s not good news for farmers, as their crops have been water-starved, but I enjoyed the weather immensely. I don’t know whether I’ve got a form of S.A.D., but I always feel better in sunshine.

The past two Saturdays have been quite nice as well and I spent both (mainly) outdoors for most of the day.

On the first of August, I went to the Oxford Record Fair – I hadn’t been in quite a while (maybe six years?). A co-worker mentioned that it was coming round and I thought it might be good to check it out again. I’ve been buying most of my music off of eBay, so it’s a treat to do a bit of crate-digging, particularly as all of the record shops in central Oxford have shut down, with the exception of the Truck shop on Cowley Road.

The Fair has moved to the St. Aldate’s Parish Centre building (it used to be held monthly at Oxford Town Hall) and it seems to be on every-other-month now. I managed to get out of bed at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, which seems an achievement – well, to me, anyway. It was about 9:30 a.m, when I found the Parish Centre and texted my co-worker to say I’d arrived. He said he’d probably be another hour. From the street I could see a few of the dealers’ tables, but as the official start time was 10, I waited outside. A car pulled up to the kerb and a bloke walked out to talk with the driver. I gathered, from the conversation, that the driver was one of the dealers who was a bit late. I asked him, after they’d finished talking, if it was O.K. to go in, even though it was early. He said it was fine, so I texted my friend, then headed inside.

The space was a bit smaller than the room at the Town Hall, but there were still about 12 dealers with tables set up. Loads of vinyl to be had – so I started with the tables closest to the door and had a look through the boxes. I found a few LPs that I thought I might buy, but I wanted to have a look at some of the other tables.

I made my way around the room and spotted some other goodies. One dealer had a nice first U.S. press of the “Zabriskie Point” sound-track, as well as a sealed copy of Bong‘s “Stoner Rock“. I was seriously tempted by those, but again, I was only on the third table or so and an hour had gone by. My co-worker showed up, but he was looking for his own finds, so we just said “Hello” in passing. A guy from Leeds was down and he had a table of soul, funk, reggae and dub. A lot of the sleeves were pretty beat-up, lots of ring-wear and sticker removal tears. He had some good stuff, though, with lots of U.S. pressings – I found a reissue of Cymande‘s first album, still-sealed. I remembered the song “Dove“, which The Amorphous Androgynous used on a few of their Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble radio mixes (which seem much better than the official releases, to me). I decided to buy that, along with a sealed reissue of The Rotary Connection‘s final album, first released in 1971, called “Hey Love” (credited to ‘The New Rotary Connection’). I also found a Lonnie Liston Smith LP called “Renaissance“, a U.S. press (on RCA), to boot. I’ve got Lonnie’s “Astral Traveling” on disc and I like his mix of spacey, psychedelic jazz and vibe-y funk, so I decided to take a punt on it. The sleeve’s got some wear, but the LP itself is in really good condition and it’s a promo copy.

I found a copy of The Rolling Stones‘ 1975 double-LP compilation, “Rolled Gold“, for £2 (with a really nice sleeve) – turns out the LPs are in pretty bad shape – lots of skips, particularly on the first record. Luckily, I found a minty set on eBay for cheap, so I’ll have to sacrifice the ones I bought with the sleeve, to the gods of recycling. One table had bootleg LPs of high-priced ones (The Velvet Underground & Nico mono, Floyd‘s mono pressing of “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn“, etc.) priced around £10 to £15, but the sleeves looked cheap – you could tell they were photo-copied scans of the actual sleeves, so I didn’t bite. I did buy a nice original copy of Be-Bop Deluxe‘s “Futurama” (on UK Harvest with the laminated sleeve) and Roxy Music‘s second LP, For Your Pleasure (with the laminated sleeve and the ‘pink rim’ Island Records label). My co-worker had to leave after a couple of hours, but I stuck around as another friend was due to show up. I had another go-round and bought the deluxe 2-CD release of Julian Cope‘s excellent 1991 album, “Peggy Suicide – it’s out-of-print now and I’ve seen copies on eBay for £20 to £25. I got it much cheaper, so that was a nice find! I also bought the first two Byrds albums, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn Turn Turn” on CD (the Columbia reissues, with the bonus tracks). I’ve been meaning to get those for years and finally decided to pick them up.

My other co-workers turned up and after another pass around the tables, I spent the last of my cash on two Edgar Broughton Band singles, “Apache Drop Out” and their classic cover of The Fugs’ “Out Demons Out” – both in very good shape and with the Harvest sleeves. We then were going to go for a drink and food at The Kite pub (it was about 2 p.m.), but it turns out they don’t do lunch on Saturdays. We went to The One Restaurant (I had scrambled eggs with fried tomatoes and egg-fried rice) and then to G & D’s (on Little Clarendon Street) for some excellent ice cream. All told, a great day out – bought a nice stash of music and had a lovely lunch with pals.

The following week, Pixie and I headed into town for a bit of shopping and then to Wadham College to see the Oxford Shakespeare Company‘s production of Twelfth Night. We’ve been to see their shows for the past few years and it’s always been a groovy time. The college grounds make a splendid backdrop for the plays and sometimes the scenes are held in different parts of the grounds, so there’s movement around them.

This production had a sort-of rock/goth theme in the costumes and hair styles. The cast performed the tale of mistaken and hidden identities well – in fact, it was nearly as good as the National Theatre production I saw about five years ago, directed by Peter Hall (featuring his daughter, Rebecca – who, as ‘Viola’/’Cesario’, didn’t seem to really inhabit the role). Martin Csokas was also lacklustre as ‘Count Orsino’. Simon Callow did O.K. as ‘Sir Toby Belch’. The real stand-outs were Charles Edwards as ‘Sir Andrew Augecheek’, Simon Paisley-Day as ‘Malvolio’ and Amanda Drew as ‘Olivia’.

I not quite sure what happened, whether there was an irritant in the air, or something affected my eyes the night before – but suddenly my eyes became very watery and irritated. It progressed through most of the morning and by the time we were seated for the show, I could barely keep them open. We were sat near the front, as well and I was hoping I wouldn’t distract the actors with my squinty looks, as I was really struggling to watch. Luckily, by the third act, my right eye felt much better and I was able to at least keep that one open, while covering the left one some of the time. It probably looked quite silly, but as I had no eye-drops – it was the best I could manage.

As I mentioned, though, the cast were very good and I always enjoy the musical interludes – the O.S.C. actors also seem to be fairly accomplished musicians and singers. The performances were very good – the actor who played ‘Sir Toby’, played him as a sort of drunken Irish uncle, while the actor who played ‘Malvolio’ chose a very camp style (as opposed to Paisley-Day, who played it in a sinister, arch way). The entire cast sung and played the closing song, then they moved away from the ‘stage’ area and played some more, busking for charity. We stuck around for another song and then dropped by the chemist, so I could get drops for my eyes.

We had dinner at Zizzi’s in town and then boarded the bus for home. I was exhausted from two busy Satudays, but it’s nice to get out of the house once in a while.

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Stewart Lee – “A Room With A Stew” – Oxford Playhouse – March 31st, 2015

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Stewart Lee appeared in Oxford again, with his new “work-in-progress” shows, titled (by the awesome Alan Moore, apparently) “A Room With A Stew“. The last time I saw him was at the New Theatre on the “Carpet Remnant World” tour, a few years ago. I wish I could remember a lot of it, but all I can recall are the YouTube comments bit, the budget Scooby-Doo episode (after the Tories ransacked the show’s budget) and his reference to Dr Strangely Strange‘s “Heavy Petting” LP. I do recall enjoying the gig a lot and was excited when the missus found out he was going to be at The Playhouse.

The missus had to pass on the show, due to a really bad chest cough, so I went with her brother, his wife and an old work-mate. We had decent seats, in the stalls, about seven rows from the stage. John Coltrane‘s version of “My Favorite Things” was piped through the in-house speakers as the crowd settled into its seats. Eventually, the lights dimmed a bit, a stage announcement was made and the man walked out to applause.

He explained that the two sets of the show would be broken into segments, as he was working on material for the newest series of his Comedy Vehicle programme, which was picked up for more episodes. The first bit consisted of Lee poking fun at the right-wing media pundits, who ask why no left-wing comedians ridicule ‘the Muslims’. He dove-tailed that with a shot at popular comics who use tired “observational comedy” (he did a funny bit where he pretended to run around the stage – in a Lee Mack or Michael McIntyre way) as the main part of their humour. In the end, Lee just said “How ’bout those Muslims you see these days?” There was a (possibly fictional – sometimes you can’t tell with Stew) story about a Muslim woman, who sat on a copy of the Jehovah’s Witness magazine, “The Watchtower”, on a bus. He diverted into other topics during the telling of the story, like Twitter-spying and Nigel Fart-age, before finishing the entire bit with a really funny and lengthy punchline (which I can’t recall completely at the moment).

The ‘second half’ of the first set started with a story about himself being urinated on by a group of bullies at his school. This led him, he suggested (in a Freudian way), to want to entertain people. He reasoned that on some level, as the bullies were laughing at him, he was ‘entertaining’ them. More off-shoots of the central premise followed, including a urine-based aphorism that his family used and a story about his grandfather, a World War II veteran, attempting to wee on flies in a Maltese gents room – pretending they were German aircraft. He said, with a lot of gravitas, “For some of those guys, the war never ended”. When the crowd failed to laugh at that line – Lee went into a (jokey) tirade about how comedians are under-appreciated and shouting “it’s crowds like you that tied the noose around Robin Williams‘s neck!” The hilarious faux-crowd-berating continued for another few minutes and then Lee bounded off-stage for the intermission.

The second half of the show involved surplus England flags, various bodily fluids and hanging England flags outside his home to dry and the impression it made on his neighbours. I won’t spell it out graphically – but I think you can piece the bit together from that. The funniest bits were him calling his cat “Paul Nuttall From UKIP” and referring to lustful feelings as “Nigel Farage is on the campaign trail”. There was also a part where he told how one of his friends looked very “Venezualan” (earlier in the show, he asked for a name of a country that would seem benign to the crowd) – a funny riff on how xenophobes view ‘foreigners’. He described how his friend would wear strange clothes (he came up with some fantastical outfits), listen to weird Venezualan music on Radio Three (he launched into an improvised record-scratching, high-pitched vocal and animal noise sound for about 5 minutes) and how, in the end, everyone but Lee’s friend knew he was ‘Venezualan’.

Lee finished with a short section that he referred to as an ‘encore’, but he did say at the beginning of the show that he wouldn’t leave the stage and walk back on. It was a short fragment of a bit about clients of sex workers leaving used condoms around the street and sometimes in Lee’s garden. I can’t recall the final punch-line, but it had to do with Lee’s wife and feminism, but in a praising way, not an obnoxious one.

I found the second half wasn’t quite as tight as the first – but to be fair, even these later shows on the tour are still opportunities for Lee to hone the material. In any case, I had a great time and it’s always good to see Stew – even when he’s mock-berating me for showing up to watch him.

Busy Week: Mark Thomas – The North Wall, Summertown – 15th Oct./The Orb – O2 Academy, Oxford – 16th October, 2014

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Pixie and I actually had somewhat of an active social life this past week, as we caught leftie comedian Mark Thomas in action at The North Wall theatre, a tiny venue in Summertown on Wednesday night (15th October). The next night, we were at the O2 Academy in Oxford, to see The Orb on the current leg of the group’s 25th Anniversary Tour.

Thomas started his show by praising the hall. “I love this fucking space”, he exclaimed a few times – “I feel like there should be a priest hole somewhere”, he added. After that, he went into a few random riffs on what he’s been up to, while promising that “the second half is fucking great”. He had a competition to find a definition of “Farage” (which he insisted be pronounced “fair-idge”, not “far-odge”, like the media do). He chose the best one – which was the residue you find at the bottom of a food waste bin. He also hawked stickers saying “Daily Mail Free Zone” to place on trains and coaches. The first set was quite short, only about a half-hour or so.

The second set centred around Thomas’s work and protests with the C.A.A.T. (or Campaign Against The Arms Trade). The main subject is a fellow activist called “Martin” – Thomas never says his surname and we were never quite if his first name is even Martin. Martin was a convert to the anti-arms trade cause, after working in the trade for a long while. Thomas talked of how dedicated Martin was and the amount of time he spent organising and helping with protests. He cleverly used videos of fellow activists and ‘talked’ with them about Martin. All was well, until a rumour started circulating that Martin wasn’t quite what he seemed. An audit of C.A.A.T.’s computers turned up evidence that Martin was spying for B.A.E. Systems, the UK’s largest arms manufacturer.

Thomas and a few staunch supporters of Martin refused to believe the allegations and Thomas even went so far as to shout denials to the organisation’s leaders. Somehow, though, to Thomas, something wasn’t quite right about Martin and he was eventually convinced to read the file on the audit. The evidence looked incontravertible and Thomas was forced to change his opinion of Martin. In the end, Thomas, despite many efforts, couldn’t get Martin to admit to what he had done. He closed the show with more videos of fellow activists who had also been spied on by either corporations or goverment agencies. It widened the show’s scope from personal betrayal to the enormous implication of spying going on in society at the moment.

The Orb have been on their 25th Anniversary tour since mid-2013 and the show stopped in Oxford on 16th October. The group, at the moment, is a duo of original member (and the only constant one) Alex Paterson – sorta the Robert Fripp of The Orb, with Thomas Fehlmann, who joined up around the time of “U.F.Orb”, released in 1992. To my surprise, the show was on the upper floor of the O2 Academy. It’s a smaller space and makes for a more intimate setting. We missed the support act – I think it was someone called Nick Hooper. He had the usual laptop/sampler set-up and was winding down his set as we walked in.

After a short-ish interval – Paterson and Fehlmann took centre stage where their gear was set up. I suspect most of the first half were tunes from the latest album (released in 2012), Orbserver In The Star House – a collaboration with dub reggae legend, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. I don’t have “Orbserver…” yet, so I didn’t recognise anything until Pat Metheny‘s sampled guitar notes floated into the mix, signalling their classic “Little Fluffy Clouds“. A nice “Towers Of Dub” followed and a surprise “Toxygene” made it into the set. “Blue Room” was dusted off with a harder-edge beat than the studio version and “Assassin” made an appearance as well.

I also remember a re-working of Pink Floyd‘s “One Of These Days“, mainly using the bass riff and layered sounds. “A Huge Evergrowing Pulsating Brain…” was announced by way of the Minnie Riperton sample, but it wasn’t its usual epic length. The nearly two-hour set wound down with what I think was “Ball Of Fire” off of “Orbserver…” (based on the spoken-word sample in it). Paterson and Fehlmann left the stage and the crowd stamped and shouted for an encore, but the house lights switched on and we all shuffled out into the street. A decent show – fairly stripped back compared to the shows of twenty or even fifteen years ago. The duo kept things moving along nicely and there weren’t any dull moments. The mix wasn’t the best, but then the acoustics in that space have never been, in my experience, ideal. A lot of the spoken-word samples were difficult to hear, so some of the depth of the Orb sound was lost. Aside from that, it was good to see the boys out on the road, bringing a bit of psychedelic ambient dance music to the faithful.

Mark Thomas: Cuckooed – North Wall, Summertown

First set: “What I’ve Been Up To” – including “Farage” & playing gigs in strange venues

Second set: “Cuckooed” (a tale of betrayal)

The Orb – 25th Anniversary Tour –  O2 Academy, Oxford:

Africa

Soulman

(not sure)

(not sure)

Little Fluffy Clouds

Assassin

Towers Of Dub

Toxygene

Blue Room

One Of These Days (Pink Floyd remix)

A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain…

(not sure)

Ball Of Fire

–no encore–

George Ripley’s Alchemical Scrolls

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This past weekend, an old work-friend of Pixie’s and mine visited Oxford. Pixie had planned a visit to Oxford Castle, as we had never done the tour. That turned out to be quite interesting. Our tour guide was dressed as Svein Forkbeard and he did a pretty credible Danish accent, too (though Pixie thought he sounded Irish). He proved to be a decent improviser, too. While our tour group were on the roof of the castle, surveying the Oxford skyline, a couple decided to head back down the steps. “Bye”, he shouted. He then looked at the rest of us and said “I still have the gift of sending people away.”

We stayed behind in the Crypt Of St George and lost the tour group, then checked out the prison display. After climbing the hill next to the castle for some photos, it was off to The King’s Arms for some lunch.

The Museum Of The History Of Science was next. We checked out the taxidermy exhibit (not as graphic as I expected) and the assortment of scientific instruments and other curios on display (an elephant tooth, a puffer fish, etc.). By chance, we happened to go by the Bodleian Library. In a room off of the quad, was a “Magical Books” exhibit. It turned out to be mainly fiction works, “Harry Potter” and that sort of thing. There were references to Aleister Crowley and John Dee‘s Enochian language tablet (which usually resides in the Museum Of The History Of Science).

The highlight of the exhibit were large alchemical scrolls by George Ripley, an English alchemical scholar. They are beautifully illustrated with fantastical creatures and eerie gothic lettering. The words may seem like nonsense, but if you have any knowledge of alchemy and the processes of alchemy, they will have some meaning for you. We wandered into the display with not much time to view, as the library was closing to the public. I quickly snapped some photos of the scrolls and the Beardsley drawing. Fascinating stuff – I hope to see the scrolls again sometime.

We Were Here! Orbital – The O2 Academy, Oxford – 13th December 2012

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I’ve been an Orbital fan since the spring/summer of 1995, when, thinking their stuff was an off-shoot of The Orb‘s ambient techno. I bought the “Snivilisation” album and woooooah, it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s far more beat-driven than The Orb (at least, at the time) and much harsher in places. It took me a few listens, but then I was hooked. I bought all of the back catalogue, which was two full-length albums. The EPs were really tough to get in the States and if you did score them, the import prices were pretty outrageous.

Then came “In Sides” in 1996 – which was released as a double CD. The second disc was a combined release of the “Times Fly” and “Sad But True” EPs, themselves having hit the shelves in 1995. “In Sides” was sorta their prog-rock album – long tracks with some having multiple sections within the tracks. “The Middle Of Nowhere” followed in 1999 and “The Altogether” was released in 2001. By 2004, Orbital announced they were splitting up, after releasing the somewhat disappointing “Blue Album“. The split almost implied they would re-group at some point, but we fans were never sure.

The boys played a few reunion shows in the past couple of years and everything seemed to go well. They announced late in 2011 that they had returned to the studio and were making a brand-new record. They even posted video diaries of the progress of the recording. In April of this year, “Wonky” was dropped and most reviews have been very positive. To me, it’s an excellent album – maybe not quite reaching the dizzying heights of “The Brown Album” or “In Sides”, but for a couple of guys going on 25 years as a duo, it’s pretty damn good!

I never got to see them live – they never played Connecticut, not as far as I’m aware and it seemed to be too much effort to go to NYC or Boston. They closest they came was on the “Community Service” U.S. tour in summer 1999. They played the Palladium Theatre in Worcester, Mass in July of that year. I’ve found a live recording of the show since and I really wish I’d been to see it. Pixie spotted the notice on the Oxford O2 Academy website that Orbital were going to play there on their winter 2012 tour and asked if I wanted to go…

We arrived in time at the O2 Academy to catch support act Nathan Fake, who took up his spot stage left with a laptop and mixing console. His set consisted of around 45 minutes of pleasant enough Aphex Twin-ish electronica…all synth sweeps and fast beats.  He bopped along to the beats and would occasionally reach over to the mixer and tweak the mix, making a snare-roll sound or adjust the speed. I don’t know the names of the tracks – but they all flowed one into another. The first ‘suite’ lasted about a half-hour and the second for roughly 15 to 20 minutes.

The Hartnoll brothers took the stage a bit later and if I may say so, played a blinder! They opted for “Time Becomes” as their walk-on..er…music, then ripped into an energized “One Big Moment” (which also opens ‘Wonky’). O.B.M. is fast becoming my fave tune on the new record – it’s a classic Orbital anthem. They then led into “Halcyon + On + On“. I’d have thought they would have saved this for later in the set, but nope – they forged ahead, even adding in the (now familiar) mix of Belinda Carlisle‘s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” and Bon Jovi‘s “You Give Love A Bad Name“. “Straight Sun” and “Distractions“, both from ‘Wonky’ followed, with the dazzling lights flashing and the back-projected videos providing an excellent visual accompaniment.

“Distractions” segued into my other fave new track,Beelzedub“. It’s Orbital’s ‘dubstep’ tune – but for my money, beats out the young’uns at their own game. The vids showed various banker-types, George W. Bush, as the beats and synths were jacked up to punishing volume – the crowd surged along with the rhythms. “Never“, from ‘Wonky’ followed, leading into a surprise (and lovely) “Belfast“, all the way from Orbital first full-length, giving a bit of respite from the faster tunes and jackhammer rhythms.

Another highlight for me was “Impact” – one of my all-time fave Orbital tracks – it also gave a the boys a chance to crank the volume and get the bodies dancing! So good! The title track from the new album came next, with a recording of Lady Leshurr‘s vocals weaving it’s way through the demented synth riffs. An extended “Are We Here?“, from ‘Snivilisation’, followed, with Alison Goldfrapp‘s vocals in the mix. The best bit was toward the end of the tune, when they added a sample from The Carpenters‘ “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” in – it worked perfectly with the rhythm and they even had the ol’ ‘bouncing-ball-with-the-lyrics’ on the screen! Their re-working of the “Doctor Who” theme – a live staple for a long while now, closed the main set. It was good, but not necessarily a surprise and I would’ve preferred a track from “In Sides” or “The Middle Of Nowhere” instead.

Phil & Paul obliged the crowd with not one…but two encores!! The first was an excellent “Chime” (you knew they weren’t to going to skip that one). It’s comforting, somehow, to know that they still don’t mind trotting it out after all this time. The final tune of the night was the final track from ‘Wonky’, called “Where Is It Going?“. I admit that by then, I was tired from all the bopping around (especially during “Impact”) and the body heat from the crowd made me a bit woozy – so it was nice just to chill a bit and listen as the music drifted from the speakers. The house lights came up as the boys left the stage and off into the cold December night we went.

Setlist (Orbital):

Time Becomes

One Big Moment

Halcyon (incl. “Heaven Is A Place On Earth & “You Give Love A Bad Name”)

Straight Sun

Distractions

Beelzedub

Never

Belfast

Impact (the earth is burning)

Wonky

Are We Here? (incl. “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft”)

Encore 1: Chime

Encore 2: Where Is It Going?

Julian Cope – The O2 Academy, Oxford – 12th October, 2012

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I’ll tell ya’s – I’ve been a regular social butterfly the past couple of weeks. Caught “Love And Information” in London and then, just last Friday, Pixie and I saw Julian Cope at the O2 in Oxford.

I’d never seen him live before, so I was looking forward to the show. Copey’s not as crazed as he was back in the late 80s/early 90s – still, he’s one of those guys where you don’t really know what to expect. He could do a drone-metal show with a full band, an ambient show with a few keyboards, or an acoustic folkie-type show. This tour it’s the latter, we found out when we got to the venue. The stage was pretty bare, aside from an electronic keyboard sat on a mellotron (a real one!), a few mic stands and a huge bass drum with the inscription “You Can’t Beat Your Brain For Good Entertainment” on the front.

The support act was Anton Barbeau, an American psychedelic folkie (and cousin of actress Adrienne). He played a nice little set and with his elfin stature and springy hair, reminded me at times of Tyrannosaurus Rex-era Marc Bolan. The highlights for me were the set opener, “This Is Why They Call Me Guru 7” and a country-ish tune with “Trouble” in the title (should’ve written them down). The songs are well-crafted and the Robyn Hitchcock lyrical comparisons seem pretty spot-on, though Barbeau’s songs seem far less exploratory (psychologically) than Hitchcock’s. I kinda wish he knew a couple of extra chords as well – two of the songs he played (in a row) had the exact chord structure. The final tune, “The Banana Song“, has a catchy melody and Barbeau did an amusing bit where he sang between two mics – one of which had an echo effect, so his voice would almost pan around the room from the echoed mic. He’s also playing with ex-Soft Boys (to further the Robyn connection) members Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor in Three Minute Tease. Barbeau announced that they were playing an in-store gig at the Truck Records shop the following day, but I didn’t make it down there.

The Cope took the stage with an acoustic guitar, after an introduction by a bloke called Fido-X of Cope’s side-band, Black Sheep. Fido’s a tall, biker-looking dude who could double as a Motorhead roadie. Cope was dressed in his general’s cap, leather vest, aviator shades, khaki shorts and leather boots. His hair is cut short at the moment and with all the rest of the gear, he looked like Douglas MacArthur on the set of a Mad Max film. He tore into the opening tune, a cracking version of “Raving On The Moor”, from his newest album, Psychedelic Revolution. His voice was in fine form and he had a cool, feedback-y/flange-y effect on the acoustic which gave it a growling tone. For the rest of the set, he would play a few tunes on the acoustic, then amble over to the mellotron/digital keyboard set-up for a tune. The set covered songs off of “Psychedelic Revolution”, but surprisingly he dipped into various places in his back catalogue – even his former early 80s new-wave psychedelic band, The Teardrop Explodes (a nice, droney version of “The Great Dominions“, played on the digital keyboard). He also played a couple of songs from his (arguably) best solo record, Peggy Suicide and one from the 1992 follow-up, Jehovahkill. He even dipped back into his first solo album, Fried, with a spirited version of “O King Of Chaos” – another keyboard excursion.

Cope still likes to interact with the punters, too. He’d talk about what he’s been up to and any shouted asides from the crowd would be met with a witty riposte or a quick assent. Of course, there’s always the uber-fan who has to try and out-do everyone else. There was one guy who was almost trying to have a conversation with him, while he was on-stage, throughout most of the show. I kept waiting for either Cope or someone near to the uber-fan to tell him to shut the fuck up, but it never happened. The best bit of Julian’s on-stage chats was when he was discussing the “Droolian/Skellington“-era and he was at the Island Records offices. He ran into Paul Morley, journalist and half-owner of the ZTT label and Morley asked Cope: “How are you puttin’ out all these fookin’ records?” Cope imitated Morley in a near-perfect Manc accent. Had me laughing for ages.

The final tune in the main set was “Robert Mitchum” (from “Droolian”), which featured a funny dig at Axl Rose (who, according to Cope, ruined the whistling solo forever). He re-appeared shortly after with Fido-X and Doggen (another Black Sheep member) and played a short encore. The highlight was a rocking version of “Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed“, which got the crowd singing and bopping along. The Cope then waved goodbye and the house lights came on.

I would recommend that you catch any remaining shows, but Julian announced that it was the final night of the tour. He is doing a couple of appearances for his Copendium project – but I don’t think he’s doing any more gigs for the rest of the year. Glad we caught this show – it was well worth it!

Set list (Julian Cope):

Raving On The Moor

Soul Desert

Cromwell In Ireland (with Fido-X on bass drum)

Mother, Where Is My Father? (David Peel cover – with Fido-X on bass drum)

As The Beer Flows Over Me

The Great Dominions

Autogeddon Blues

Double Vegetation

I’m Your Daddy

Pristeen (with Doggen on bongos)

Stone Circles ‘N’ You (with Doggen on bongos)

Psychedelic Revolution

Screaming Secrets

I’m Living In The Room They Found Saddam In

Jellypop Perky Jean

Julian H. Cope (with Doggen on bongos)

Unisex Cathedral In D (with Doggen on bongos)

O King Of Chaos

Head Hung Low

Sunspots

Greatness & Perfection Of Love

Robert Mitchum

Encore:

Out Of My Mind On Dope & Speed