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Julian Cope/Stanley Theatre

Keith Astbury finds there's still a buzz when the Saint comes back to town. Pictures: Darren Aston

Written by . Published on October 28th 2011.

Julian Cope/Stanley Theatre

It’s always a special night when Julian Cope comes to town. 

The days when he fronted Liverpool’s post-punk finest, The Teardrop Explodes, might be so long ago that many of his current audience weren’t even born back then, but it still feels like a homecoming of sorts. 

He treated us to a stunning version
of the old Teardrops number, The
Great Dominions, demonstrating
what fine voice he has these days

There was no big entrance; our man just ambled on-stage and started chatting to the crowd. One minute he was talking about being told where to go while researching his books in Europe, the next he was recalling how it was impossible to hitch a lift in Liverpool because the driver always said “Sorry, I’m going the other way!” 

Eventually he strapped on a guitar and opened with a new number, Raving On The Moor, which married the epic with the tuneful. 

After this he went back to his early 90’s Jehovakill days with No Hard Shoulder To Cry On and Soul Desert, before treating us to a stunning version of the old Teardrops number, The Great Dominions, which demonstrated what fine voice he has these days. 

Other highlights included the finger-picked delicacy that is I’m Your Daddy and a couple of 90s numbers: Autogeddon Blues and Double Vegetation, both of which built beautifully. 

There was also a rare outing for All I Am Is Loving You, the oddball b-side of the legendary Zoo 45, Bouncing Babies, that delighted those who had been there from the beginning. 

There were also further new numbers that bode well for the next album - Julian In The Underworld features a really catchy “I can’t pretend to know what’s going on” chorus whilst The Beer Flows Over Me was described as a Northern drinking song for friends no longer with us. 

And then there was Cromwell In Ireland which he introduced as “a folk song about the worst tyrants”, informed by writing his forthcoming book, Lives of the Prophets: A New Perspective. 

And throughout the gig, Cope chatted amiably about this and that, taking in everyone and everything from Jim Morrison to Adolf Hitler to Half Man Half Biscuit. 

The set ended with the number that started it all more than thirty years ago - Sleeping Gas, with Julian being joined by Acoustika on keyboards and Big Nige on a marching drum. This was a droney version that was just a distant cousin to the original, and one which climaxed with Julian at the keyboard, crooning about his use of old material. Humour is never far away at a Cope gig. 

There was also a quick encore consisting of the classic pop song The Greatness & Perfection before the show ended with the erstwhile Robert Mitchum. He was true to his word that there would – sadly! - be no whistling included, but there was much singing along from an appreciative audience. 

Yes, it’s always a special night when Julian Cope comes to town... 


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