Lloyd Cole at Vicar St, Dublin

Last time Lloyd Cole visited these shores he played in Whelans, whereas this time he was in the altogether more grandiose Vicar Street. Playing solo with just guitar and vocals, there was a fear that his often sensitive songs would be lost in the large venue.

It turned out there was nothing to worry about. Despite the fact that Lloyd proclaimed that this was “NOT eighties night”, there was a large crowd, mainly of a certain age who gave Cole’s Commotions-era material a warm response. But it would be entirely wrong to say that this material dominated the night. Playing two sets, both were interspersed with selections (and plugs to buy) from recent album Standards, as well as ‘deep cuts’ from his solo and Commotions albums.

Rattlesnakes was dispatched early in the night as Cole appeared not quite at ease, playing his songs on a guitar while remaining standing throughout. The songs were interspersed with a nice line in self-deprecating between song banter, as he battled with one or two more raucous members of the audience. “Not that I have that much dignity left anyway”, he proclaimed on Like A Broken Record, though his commanding vocals and guitar playing on this, Butterfly and Period Piece left nobody complaining. Traces of Bob Dylan crept into his acoustic versions of Diminished Ex and Don’t Look Back (which featured an extraordinary human fade out as Lloyd gradually got quieter), pausing to gently admonish latecomers who “only missed Rattlesnakes”.

Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken saw the first, hushed, singalong and many an audience member grinning from ear to ear. By now he had complete authority over the room, newer material such as It’s Late (“a Roy Orbison song that I wrote”) and Myrtle & Rose stood side by side with covers of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No. 2 and the Velvet Underground’s Pale Blue Eyes. A blast through older material such as No Blue Skies, Perfect Skin, Lost Weekend and Forest Fire rounded off an evening when Lloyd Cole had promised he would “sign ANYTHING” after the gig. Hopefully he signed up to a return visit.

Killian Laher

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