Friday 3rd February 2017
As the crowd fills this jewel of a venue, the vibe they’re unwittingly but collectively getting together is one of eager anticipation and a willingness to switch off and indulge in some madness – and who better to hold court than Mr Julian Cope? Within minutes, we’ve established that the Tony Blair masks on sale at the merch desk need a little explanation – no longer the default politician of choice when it comes to erratic behaviour rooted in whim and mixed messages – as Cope eloquently explains, Blair has now been spectacularly gazumped both at home and abroad.
And so, complemented by his chosen attire of sleeveless leather jacket and military headgear, the tone is set for an evening of Gnostic entertainment, hosted by one of the very best raconteurs in the business – thrilling our ears with a quality set list to match. From the opener of Autogeddon Blues, followed by They Were On Hard Drugs, through to Cromwell in Ireland, Cope takes us on a magical mystery tour that spans continents, history, narcotics and language (much of it choice in every category). But such is the span and talent of the man, in a flash he’s back from far flung corners of the globe to capture the local and endear the colloquial and there’s one thing for sure, he genuinely does know the difference between Farnley and Armley! His set is interspersed with stories of childhood, marriage, fatherhood and the geography of his life – an endearing touch of the personal with insights that range from the enviable to the downright bonkers.
Cope keeps us entertained with hooks and references to the likes of Marc Riley and Pete Wylie and there’s genuine sentiment and affection in his stories of the late, great Pete Burns. Cope loves his history and his tomes and tunes for sale at the back of the room reflect the breadth of thinking and output this great performer so fluidly and fluently treats us to. He’s even come to terms with a history that enables him to make a timely request, via Teardrop Explodes, of ‘World Shut Your Mouth’! – no doubt a pertinent, political ask we can all identify with…
As the set powers forth, the crowd are delighted and indulge in heckles and inputs that mirror the mood and momentum of the evening – a spectrum that spans the obvious to the bizarre. Cope continually and congenially bats back with quick witted humour, ensuring pace and continuity to the evenings events. And as the Beer Flows Over Me it’s clear he (and many of the crowd) could Drink Me Under The Table, so it’s time to go and head home, with an encore of Pristeen memories of a night not to forget. Cheers, Julian!