Monday, May 21, 2007

Julian Cope / Dan Whitehouse Glee Club Birmingham Wednesday 16th May 2007

Guess who's back...back again...Shady's back...well no, I am... but that doesn't mean a great deal. Oh dear. I can't get into a review without waffling can I?

The Great Escape Festival was, well, great. No, make that GREAT. I managed to cram in a mighty 30 gigs and 2 interviews (watching them..not doing them) over the three days. A review (in some form or another) will will certain liver failure. Not big or clever. This week sees another orgy of gigs (if I go to them all that is... or indeed make it through the night). If music be the food of love...I'm a big, fat biffa.

Anyway, enough of my gibber jabber. Just before The Great Escape (the night before in fact, planning has never been my strong point) there was another kind of great escape (I should write for a free local newspaper or something shouldn't I?) in the form of the mighty Julian Cope (ably supported by opener Dan Whitehouse who I reviewed on this very site just a few weeks ago...lazy? Moi?). Mr Cope is another one of those British legends who we just don't seem to treasure enough. Mad as a badger on acid he may be, but he's done some cracking stuff over the years from the poppy 'smash hits' of The Teardrop Explodes through to the spaced out early solo stuff, back to 'smash hit' territory with World Shut Your Mouth, then all over the shop with heavy metal albums, books about stone circles and Krautrock, he's writing a musical called A Dick in the Underworld...

He's also been responsible for one of my best ever gigs many moons ago in Wolverhampton (early 90's), but I don't think he's really toured much since then. I heard a bit of him at Glasto a few years ago (he was playing the 'acoustic tent' which was as full as an egg) and he seemed to be doing his best to annoy the audience with some weird folk stuff (although the scrumpy might have just addled my brain a little). Tonight however he was on fine form. Half stand up, half gig he played tracks from pretty much every phase of his career...none of the really obvious stuff, but 'Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed' got an airing, which is good enough for me. He played a new track too (new to me anyway) called Living In The Room They Found Saddam In, all about the times he spends locked in his little room writing his books, musicals, music and god knows what else. Classic Cope.

Although it was billed as sort of a solo/acoustic show he shared the stage with some impressive speakers...the 'threat of bombast' as he called them. Every once in a while he'd plug himself in and unleash the threat a little bit. Then he'd go into a story about his wife summoning up spirits (the subject of the track O King of Chaos...about a spirit called O...and yes, he's a King of Chaos) or how he's writing a massive tome on Japanese rock music. Then he'd hop onto the mellotron for some spaced out stuff. Back to a story about Courtney Love, a bit more fact the whole evening (a value-tastic 2 hours 20 minutes)was a pretty accurate reflection of what make JC such a just never know what he's going to do next. If you've not listened to much Cope I can heartily recommend pretty much everything...but start with 20 Mothers...a great mid career (up to this point at least) album that didn't really get the success it deserved. Keep your eyes out for the world premiere of A Dick in the Underworld'll sure beat the hell out of Scooch the Musical (I bet Ben Elton's working on that one right now).

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