Julian Cope @ Harrogate Theatre 30th July 2011

“YOU CAN’T BEAT YOUR BRAIN FOR ENTERTAINMENT” (Written on Julian’s bass drum)

He may well be right. But for a two hour show by an 80s icon who’s almost 54. You can’t beat Julian Cope for entertainment!!! Unlike a lot of his contemporaries he doesn’t rely on his work from the 80s, he doesn’t sell car insurance and he has the ability to converse intelligently with his audience for more than two hours. He is a one off. He plays songs from the Teardrop Explodes (without any of the “hits”) his solo work in the 80s, 90s and right up to new material he has just written. He does this alone (apart from a couple of tracks where two hells angel look-a-likes come on to sing backing vocals and bash the bass drum). He plays guitar. He plays keyboards. But mostly he entertains. His stories are genuinely funny, his songs are genuinely great. From Like Leila Khaled Said (Wilder 1981) to Julian in the underworld (unreleased 2011).

Lets start at the start. Harrogate Theatre is an amazing little theatre in Harrogate! Despite living in Ripon (about 12 miles away) for a number of years I’d never been. And actually didn’t even know where it was! My trusty friend Mr Andrew Storey visited a few weeks ago for Gruff Rhys and told me what a wonderful venue it was. And, he was right. Early 1900s, quaint, great views, great sound, nice and helpful staff. They probably weren’t used to a “rock” audience but they managed to control us all perfectly. Even insisting on two sets, like at the Theatre and ice creams in the interval!!! Very civilised. Julian entered into the spirit of things by doing two sets and even cutting the first one a song short to fit in with the interval. He mixed songs with anecdotes and recollections of a career spanning well over 30 years. He also told us about his new book; Lives of the Prophets: A new perspective. How many 80s “pop” stars are writing books about the prophets? And it’s not his first. He has a literary career to match his musical career. As I said, not your average pop star.


Upwards at 45′/Double vegetation/Soul Desert/Julian in the Underworld/Head hang low/Like Leila Khaled said/Beyond Rome/Cromwell in Ireland/Conspiracist blues/Paranormal in the W.C./Madmax/Land of fear/You disappear from view

After the interval there was more of the same. Jokes about his looks, his glasses, his intake of drugs and his relationships with Courtney Love and other topics too varied to mention/remember. The audience loved it, I loved it and my friend Andrew, despite knowing little of Julians work, loved it. Highlights were many; Sunspots, The Great Dominions, Robert Mitchum, The Greatness and Perfection of love and a rousing rendition of Out of my mind on dope & speed to finish. Then he was off. No Kolly Kibber’s birthday as it said on the set list that I managed to get, which is a shame. But after 28 songs and over 2 hours of entertainment we could hardly complain. I look forward to his next album, his next book and certainly his next tour.


Raving on the moor/Promised Land/I’m your daddy/Autogeddon Blues/As the beer flows over me/Great Dominions/Saddam/Robert Mitchum/Julian H. Cope/Sunspots/Screaming secrets/O. King of chaos/Pristeen/Greatness & perfection of love/Out of my mind on dope & speed

A big thank-you to all the staff at Harrogate Theatre and I certainly look forward to going again. Roddy Woomble on Sunday the 9th of October looks inviting. Also thanks to Emma for the tickets.


HARROGATE THEATRE:      http://www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/

JULIAN COPE:                     http://www.headheritage.co.uk/     

By peter on August 4, 2011

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