Monday, 20 December 2010

Julian Cope @ The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 14th December 2010

Review by John West

The Slade Rooms is a wonderful little venue paying homage to their local heroes which are of course the legendary Slade. The bar area is adorned with old photos of Noddy and the boys during their glory years. As I’m looking around they bought back for me some wonderful memories of one of my first ever musical heroes and first ever gig I attended way back in musical history when the land was awash with glitter and sequins. Oh happy days before the drudgery of eventually entering the big wild world in a couple of years time. Anyway, enough of nostalgia alley; what of tonight’s gig? Yeah, it is one of going down back on my own rock n roll journey recalling the times I’d seen Mr Cope over the years particularly of seeing the Teardrops for the first time and the excitement I felt about it. Both The Teardrops and the Bunnymen came out of the Liverpool, Zoo records scene and were way ahead of the pack in musical terms. They were great to listen too and terrific live bands too.

A week ago I saw the Bunnymen at the Ritz so it was a strange one that I should being seeing Copey tonight, 1980 became 2010 a thirty year journey from then and now and back again.

As the soundman quells the sounds a dimming of lights precedes the entrance of Mr Julian H Cope larger than life appearing as charismatic as ever. He promises an evening of songs proceeding with a spoken unaccompanied “Socrates” before reaching for his twelve string guitar and hitting “Upwards of 45degrees” before a favourite of mine which follows – “Autogedden Blues". He talks about being simply the minstrel tonight with guitar and mellotron to his side it is a one man show which he more than pulls off for the next couple of hours.

It's more than just music with Julian Cope as he brings to the mix his own take on life and beyond, always leaving you with room for thought, yet at the same time there is humour, a self awareness a greater understanding of the man. I guess much of the audience go way back and have appreciated his music and get where it’s coming from. However, there were a few tonight who seemed to like the sound of their voices too much, annoying those close by as well as JC himself – why go to a gig and talk crap to your mate all night? Unfortunately we’re getting this more and more.. Just watch the gig you p..... !

He is a real presence on stage adorning a cosmic biker military concept with his regular over sized shades. He appears like a being from another time and space with his mantra type stance as he addresses the audience. As a musician and songwriter he commands respect but also as a raconteur he comes into his own as he touches on a number of subjects such as the student protests urging our support to out there concepts such as psychedelic talking wasps, a séance involving his wife, it can be serious, yet humorous.

As for the music he takes us on a back catalogue touching on his old band the Teardrops to his solo outings among the highlights are “King of chaos”, ”Like Leila Kaled said”, and an epic “The Great Dominions” which was a real treat to these ears. Julian Cope has had many musical trials and tribulations over the last thirty years of hurt as he said. However he continues to inspire and be a cult icon for his legion of fans. As he continues to take us through the solo years we are treated to a number of Cope gems including a buoyant sing-a-long of “Sunspots”, “Pristeen”, Robert Mitchem” “Double Vegetation” a new song “In the underworld”? He concludes the night with “Sleeping Gas” as the support act David Wrench et al take up their instruments. This is a full band onslaught not the stripped down effect laden vibes of earlier, providing a suitable end to a great night and for this year of gigs; a night of thorough enjoyment as well as reflection. It’s been some time since Julian Cope has played in this part of Staffordshire let’s hope he will make a welcome return and give an appreciative local audience a truly real musical experience.

Recommended:Teardrop Explodes; Kilimanjaro (remastered edition)

Julian Cope; Fried, Peggy Suicide, CITIZEN CAINed, Floored Genius Series