JIM WIRTH witnesses the pared down reinvention of Julian Cope.
Julian Cope has old rope aplenty, but no label will take it off his hands. Still, minus a record company, a band or indeed any records to promote, he’s as keen as ever to take his perennial message to the faithful. As he sings on tonight’s tearful finale ‘Las Vegas Basement’: “I was born to entertain, so here I go.” And if all that sounds ever so slightly Liberace At The London Palladium then that’s exactly what it is. Cope is an entertainer par excellence. You think he’s dressed up like a new age Christmas cracker for some nebulous mystic trip? Get real. It’s classic narcissism; he loves the limelight so much that we find him here, onstage and alone. And, as he leers into his audience making kissy faces at each and every one of us, the limelight loves him too.
This is the Las Vegas Julian Cope, the one who’s been through life’s mangle and come up singing for his supper. With a tear and a smile we are festooned with acoustic hits: ‘Try Try Try’, the Teardrop Explodes’ ‘Passionate Friend’, a b-side bonanza of wilfully obscure Cope gems – but only one new song, the psychedelic Buddy Holly bop of ‘Everything Blows Me Away’. As he finally takes to his fluorescent Mellotron for a two-fingered assault on the iridescently lovely ‘Great Dominions’, his chicken-in-a-basket transformation is complete. Still, as shameless as this whole enterprise is – an egotistical self-indulgence and a means of showing a lot of dull-witted A&R clowns that he’s still ‘got it’ – it’s also a telling reminder of a great talent currently rotting on rock’s reserves bench.