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  Manchester Academy II  
  Manchester, UK  
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  
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Julian Cope has been a lot of things in his time: post-punk Liverpool cult act, bona fide pop star, introverted singer-songwriter, leather-trousered rock god. And that only takes us up to 1987! In more recent years, however, he has taken to embracing heavy rock and (as he freely admits) all the cliché that entails, to the bemusement of some of his older fans. Initially, there was good reason to doubt. Despite every time Julian does a Raw Power nugget like Get Off Your Pretty Face (from his early forays into this genre with his 'ambient metal' band, Brain Donor) there is some endless dirge that would induce those who think heavy metal was music made by the brain dead for the brain dead to quickly reach for the skip button.

The past couple of years, however, have seen Cope marrying this style to his more melodic leanings with no small degree of success. It was in this guise that Julian showed up on his latest tour. Playing bass in a three piece augmented by Doggen (who can only be described as what used to be called an 'axe hero') and Mr E (on 'the fucking drums'), the bare chested, German cap wearing Cope turned in a vintage performance in England's third city. Opening with several numbers from his recent tribute album to the female of the species, Dark Orgasm, this band rocked, with Julian sounding in great voice on Nothing To Lose Except My Mind, and throwing in some great Iggy-style yelps on She's Gotta Ring On Her Finger.

Cope and Doggen rawk out!

Julian then proceeded to treat us to delights from all periods of his career, including the early Teardrop Explodes fave Read It In Books (now sounding like some rock anthem with wailing guitar solos - something which those of us who remember it as a great pop song with a choppy little organ would not have thought possible all those years ago!). There was also a superb assault on the Peggy Suicide freak-out that is Hanging Out & Hung Up On The Line, and a shivers-down-yer-back version of Highway To The Sun from his mid-90s Twenty Mothers album.

We were then treated to a solo section, the highlight of which was probably that old sing-along classic, Robert Mitchum. Cope was then joined onstage for a great I'm Your Daddy by the wonderfully named Holy McGrail on synth, which basically consisted of McGrail providing some Silver Machine-like noises for backing. After a couple more numbers, Julian H Cope and Paranormal In The West Country, that were effectively performed accapella, the band re-emerged for a glorious finale that took in Get Off Your Pretty Face, World Shut Your Mouth (where the crowd went MENTAL!), and Reynard The Fox, whereupon Julian launched into an angry tirade against religion and, alas, resorted to cutting himself with his mic stand. Again.

Otherwise, this was a gig to savour. Because this was our greatest performer at his best, singing, chatting, ranting, joking. It really doesn't get much better than this…


Julian Cope ... triumphant!

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Julian Cope in 2004.


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