Julian Cope made a typically eccentric return to music at the weekend, after two years concentrating on his writing at the two-day Cornucopea festival at London’s South Bank Centre.
The event featured four performances by Cope in various guises, as well as rare appearances by Krautrock legends Ash Ra Tempel, electronic extremists Coil and blues rock veterans The Groundhogs.
“It’s a chance to see all my favourite groups – and I’m in most of them,” explained Cope, as he played an introductory solo set in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. A second solo set, on Sunday night, ended with him being joined onstage by Paul Simpson, his fellow founder of The Teardrop Explodes, for a version of ‘Sleeping Gas’. It was the first time Cope and Simpson had performed together for nearly 20 years. Simpson’s band Skyray also appeared.
Cope meanwhile featured in two other bands. He donned psychedelic Kiss-style facepaint to lead the hilarious stoner metal trio Brain Donor – “less Ozzy Osbourne, more Ozzy Osmond” – which also featured new Spiritualized guitarist Doggen. And he joined Spiritualized keyboardist Thighpaulsandra as part of their ongoing ambient project Queen Elizabeth. With two extra members dressed identically to the mohawked, foppish Thighpaulsandra, they performed an hour-long, “post-ironic” piece dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana.
Other attractions at Corncucopea – described by organiser David Sefton as “what it’s like inside Julian’s head” – included The Minuscule Of Sound, the world’s smallest disco, and a Krautrock Colouring Competition judged by long-term Cope aficionado, television personality, comedian and radio presenter Sean Hughes.