Lloyd Cole & The Negatives
Review of their gig in Vicar Street, Dublin, 21 May 2001
Another year, another Lloyd Cole gig. This time, he brings new band, The Negatives, in tow. During a barren period over the last few years without a record company (more artists than can be counted have been dumped through takeovers and mergers), Cole put together a band simply to gig around the New York area. From this spawned a touring band and an album, "The Negatives" which is due to be distributed in Ireland/England over the coming weeks.
The gig opens with an acoustic turn by Jill Sobule (of "I Kissed a Girl" fame) and lead guitarist in The Negatives. The best way to describe her material is kooky. Everything from unrequited lesbian love, the impact of unfashionable shoes during childhood and execution "Texas style" are delivered in a humourous fashion often bordering on comedy. One song includes the message that everyone in France joined the R?istance after the war - a song she tells the audience will not be included in her Paris set. By the end, latecomers are asking who she is, so some new album sales for Jill in Ireland.
The main event kicks off with a couple of songs from the new album, "What's Wrong With This Picture" and "Past Imperfect" included. Immediately, Lloyd is unhappy with the sound on the stage. However, it is five or six songs into the set before it improves for the audience. No discernable bass or rhythm guitar make for a very fractured sound, almost as if the band never played together. By the time Cole starts parading through his not inconsiderable back catalogue, things have improved immensely. Classics such as "Perfect Skin", "Jennifer She Said" and "Like Lovers Do" keep the audience engaged. It's a workman-like performance but a touch rigid. The music has simply washed over us rather than grabbing us by the scruff.
Cole played two acoustic gigs in the same venue last year, which were outstanding. His songs stripped to bare essentials are evocative Dylan and Cohen, whom he covers extensively. All in all, the band does little to enhance the music and have killed the warm banter between Cole and audience. Perhaps the venue is partially to blame - Vicar Street, with its table layout, is better equipped for intimate affairs.
It's fourteen years since Lloyd was last involved with a band, The Commotions. He probably would have been better to have left playing with a band in the past - at least in terms of live performance.