A day out in London today for Rachel and myself, along with Cope-centric former Honda colleague James. He drove and we parked up at lunchtime in Islington, visiting the Tate Modern (never again!) and hitting Camden for CD shopping in the afternoon. Then drove the short distance to Hackney, parking round the corner from this new and spankingly posh and very chrome venue. Somewhat out of the way, but still do-able! Got good seats front-centre, a few rows back, behind a couple from Rhode Island who know Tanya Donelly! Small world!
Cope, bedecked in grey camo, orange of face and huge of hair - and boots! - joined us at 9, taking the stage with a confident and proprietorial swagger. Immediately into the audience banter - recalling an incident at his last London show, with a fan shouting out, "Julian, you're so local!" in tribute to his ferocious provincial schedule of gigs - Copey was immediately joined by his oppo Donald Ross "Donneye" Skinner, who provided drum parts to Cope's clutch of opening numbers. Cope himself thwacked a double neck guitar/bass and brought the noise, laying down some rocking tracks reminiscent of his "Saint Julian" days. One hopes that some of this stuff will end up on the forthcoming Brain Donor CD!
Donneye soon departed the stage for a time, leaving Cope to espouse his theories on the barbarian art form which is rock'n'roll, and also strum a mean looking resprayed spangly orange acoustic ("you don't need to re-invent it, just spray it orange and it'll be all new!"). The angry, vitriolic "Armageddon Blues", the quirky "Julian H Cope" and the touching and tender "I'm Your Daddy" all cascaded out of the magically strung acoustic. "Upwards At 45 Degrees", a stripped back number which built to an emotive crescendo, was an early highlight too, as the banter continued! Then, a totally unexpected treat, as Cope introduced one from, "my ba ba ba days," namely a splendidly rendered "Greatness And Perfection", as wonderfully jolly and sing-along as ever. Cool!
Following a splendid "Sunspots", Donneye rejoined Cope onstage for his usual prowl around the audience; this time however he chose to climb right over the seats and sing to the Rhode Island lady in front of us! Donneye held the beat strong as JC wandered in and out of the hall, kissing and dancing with bewildered fans along the way. Extraordinary stuff - only an amazing showman like Cope could get away with it!
The show rolled to an end and once again the 2 hours seemed like 20 minutes. However, despite not deciding to play any encores but just play through instead, Cope was cheered back onstage to deliver a superb mellotron and synth based version of The Teardrop Explodes classic "The Great Dominions". A brilliant end to a superb show - once again from the fried and utterly mad genius Julian Cope!