By DAN MACINTOSH
One good way to prove songwriting quality is to strip a song down to just an acoustic guitar and vocal, which is how Lloyd Cole performed his songs during his mid-week Largo at the Coronet concert.
Cole joked how these songs for The Retrospective Tour were written when he was half the age he is now (57), but it’s necessary to note he was already wise beyond his years when he initially wrote them, so this unplugged concert featured many wonderful treasures from this talented singer/songwriter’s past.
Cole Performs from Commotions Catalogue
The lion’s share of Cole’s set was drawn from his three-album stint leading the Commotions. Hearing the immediately gratifying jangle of “Perfect Skin” again, it’s easy to see why Cole drew comparison to The Smiths back when the band first started. “Perfect Skin” was one of the more popular tracks from the Commotions’ debut, Rattlesnakes, but many of the bands deeper cuts also came off well. Cole sang “Cut Me Down” and “Lost Weekend,” back to back, and both from the second album, Easy Pieces. Easy Pieces was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who gave the original recordings just a little too much studio sheen. With just an acoustic guitar, though, it was impossible to miss Cole’s smart wordplay.
In addition to his own songs, Cole also sang Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat.” He joked how the bad thing about singing a Cohen song is that he then needed to follow with one of his own. Not to worry, though, your songs stand up well next to the master’s, Lloyd. Cole also sang The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” as one of his encores. Los Angeles concert audiences have been accused of being lame and too cool to a fault. However, they’re also knowledgeable music fans, and it was gratifying to hear many in the audience singing along to this wonderful Kinks song.
‘Forest Fire’ A Classic Love Song
Cole closed the show with “Forest Fire,” and even though Cole self-deprecatingly describes it as nothing more than a simple metaphor for a burning love within the lyric, it’s actually one of his prettiest love songs and was a perfect capstone to a delightful evening.
Lloyd Cole is not a name you hear much anymore, which is a shame. He’s created a stellar catalogue of songs over the years, and this evening’s show offered a good sampling of his work. Largo at the Coronet may be a small venue, but Cole filled it. And while this was a treat for fans, it was also a reminder that many – even among Los Angeles’ musical elite – are missing out on a truly good thing.
Video of Lloyd Cole Live at Triple Door courtesy of Lori Starke: