So, last night we saw Julian Cope at the beautiful Lyric theatre in Hammersmith. Part of a show like this for me is normally the rush of recognition you get when the performer you’ve listened to for so long finally takes to the stage. In this case that was completely absent: I didn’t recognize him at all! This was probably because a) my image of Julian is about 15 years out of date and b) he wore a full beard, cap, and sunglasses with a blue military suit. The weird thing is that he didn’t really sound like himself either, at least not until he sang “Las Vegas Basement,” the gentle closing track on Peggy Suicide.

Julian had his wireless microphone strapped to his head, which allowed him to spend much of the first 20 minutes of the show exploring the 3-level theatre. The theatre is completely seated, so he was able to move around quite freely. The guy next to me went right up to him and had him sing into his mobile phone.

The band was pretty much out of this world. It made me wonder what I could achieve with time, diligence and rehearsal. Every show I’ve ever played has been under-rehearsed, but you couldn’t say that about last night. It was quite stripped down – bass, drums, guitar and occasional synth (a strange Korg module thing with no keyboard). The bass player also switched to what I think was a Mellotron for one song. The sound was incredibly crisp and repetitive rock music, which appealed to me much more than you might expect, especially in view of the guitarist’s frequent adventures in heavy metal-style solos. Somehow in this setting that seemed cool.

The support act was Sunburned Hand of the Man. When they first came on, they were pissing around, to the extent that I was joking that they were “my best band ever”. But they actually turned out to be pretty cool. Shambolic droning, with about 8 people on stage, most of whom were banging some drum or other, or yelping, or strumming.

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