Lloyd Cole. Union Chapel, London. 17th October 2013

Tonight suggests Lloyd Cole fans enjoy a sit down and brown shoes as much as the man himself, whom supported by two guitars, redefines ‘intimate gig’.

Cole’s lyrical precociousness as a young man finds a natural home in the Union chapel, with his older troubadour recently joking that without Lou Reed he’d have been a Mathematics teacher. He certainly looks the part – self-deprecating and wry, perfectly offsetting sepia-toned tunes still admiring Norman Mailer and Simon De Beauvoir.

Despite having relocated there, he remains in awe of America’s big skies; his mid-Atlantic twang laughing about playing b-sides that are a good idea until half way through them. The easy parallel to draw is Dylan, but there’s a lightness to his songs; effortless melodies entwined with humour.

His lyrical touch remains undimmed, newer songs like Writer’s Retreat matching the effortless elegance of Jennifer She Said. Although some songs miss a fuller band arrangement, audience attention never dips below rapt, ending in heartfelt ‘thank yous’ as eloquence finally fails him.

The new album Standards is well represented, with It’s Late particularly capturing motel loneliness with its plaintive ‘I could be true tonight, to someone like you tonight.’ Received like a lost hero, Cole continues to skip the Mainstream, but it’s not his loss, it’s ours.

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