Tuesday, 12 January 2010

650 JULIAN COPE, Litmus, Bristol Fleece, Thursday 20 January 2005

Having restricted himself to sporadic live appearances of late, it seemed odd that the Arch-Drude himself, Julian Cope, would welcome in 2005 with a traditional full-on tour. Nevertheless, any excuse for an audience with the original Floored Genius! Given Cope's propensity for crap support bands, though, we didn't reach Bristol until 8.30. Support Litmus were already on in front of a sold-out and extremely busy audience, ploughing a fast and frantic psychedelic swirl of guitar and keyboard, which in comparison with other recent Cope supports sounded positively superb, however just OK in their own right.

Jools himself kept us waiting until 10 to 10 before taking the stage, accompanied by his faithful lieutenants Doggen, Holy McGrail and the Skinner brothers Gavin and "Donn-eye" Donald Ross. By then we'd found a little pocket of space, oddly enough right down the front! This gig turned out to be as close as Cope gets these days to a traditional "rock" gig. Black clad apart from the fluorescent and yellow-faced Doggen, Cope and Co. ranted through a set of primal, primitive and ear-splittingly noisy rock'n'roll, culled from Julian's solo canon, Brain Donor material and the new "Citizen Cain'd" album. Cope as ever was bewitching, energetic and swinging around the mikestand like it was 1985, and strutting his stuff like a Jagger, but honestly this was all a little disappointing. The "rock gig" structure left few opportunities for either Cope's entertaining between-song monologues, or for the slower, prettier acoustic stuff that normally brings so much vitality and optimism to his solo shows. Furthermore, at one stage Doggen launched into an interminable guitar solo, which moved one loud punter (not me, although I agreed with the sentiment) to shout, "thank fuck for that!" at its' conclusion.

Nevertheless, a menacing half-speed "Spacehopper" and the inevitable "Reynard The Fox" (particularly poignant for us, as on the way down we'd seen a fox run across the motorway and get hit by the car overtaking us) closer redeemed matters, as did the fact Copey played until 11.30 - an impressive and relentless 1 3/4 hours! So overall, disappointing by Cope's standards, but by anyone else's, a hell of a gig!

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