IT took 16 years for Lloyd Cole to pay a return visit to Perth, after a lukewarm reception by audiences to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions at the old Entertainment Centre in 1986.
Sudden fame had brought the band to world attention in the early 80s, and they were stunned by the adulation, glitzy star treatment and flash hotels when they landed in Australia.
Caught short at the size of the barn-like Entertainment Centre things didn’t go too well. “[We] felt like little boys not a big band,” says Cole.
But he remains puzzled as to what really went wrong: “I still wonder if one of the band did something awful in Australia,” he jokes.
Despite chart-topping albums such as Rattlesnake, which was in the UK top 100 for more than 12 months, the Commotions parted company in 1989, and Cole headed to the US and a new career: “Re-establishing myself as a folk singer, not a pop singer.”
His first return visit down under was in 2002: “And I have been coming back ever since.”
The release in 2015 of a box set of recordings from 1983–1989 saw a resurgence in acclaim and interest for the Commotions, prompting a second printing due out in March. A second set is in the works for September.
And the singer-songwriter is back in Oz with his new anthology, The Retrospective.
“If I was ever going to do a retrospective now is the time because of the commemorative box sets.”
The show will cover Cole’s first four solo albums, a lost fifth album as well as rarities and videos in a mostly acoustic concert.
Cole, who studied philosophy at university, copped flack in the 80s for his “pretentious” lyrics which dropped names such as Norman Mailer, Simone de Beauvoir and Truman Capote.
There was plenty of ego in his songs and performance in those days, but a more reflective Cole says today it’s about the performance, not the performer.
“I feel performance is more important than production values. The older I become the more comfortable I feel on stage, more alive with performing,” the now 55 year old says.
Son William will join Cole for the second half of the show.
You can catch Lloyd Cole at the Fly By Night, on High Street, Saturday January 21. But get in quick tickets are selling fast.
by JENNY D’ANGER