Julian Cope – Manchester Academy 2, 24/02/06

Hung Up and Hanging Out to Dry was just bloody
splendid, prompting my rather squiffy teacher friend to throw cheese
strings at Cope (“I did it for the hell of it” he later confessed).

Hung Up and Hanging Out to Dry was just bloody
splendid, prompting my rather squiffy teacher friend to throw cheese
strings at Cope (“I did it for the hell of it” he later confessed).

Julian Cope – Manchester Academy 2, 24/02/06


Yes, yes, I know that strictly speaking it’s a gig in the UK,
and we only do Dutch and German gigs, but, for once we just couldn’t
say no to reviewing Julian Cope, wherever he was appearing. The thing
is, us Dutch-based fans just don’t get to see M’ Lud Yatesbury ever,
(the last time being nearly 5 years ago; an infamous and very
entertaining night in Den Haag which saw amongst other things, the
illicit commandeering by JC of another act’s drum kit for the express
purpose of playing of Faust’s classic It’s a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl).


it was, Incendiary didn’t need any persuading when a friend rang up to
enquire whether we would be requiring a ticket for the Academy 2 show
A pleasant day out with friends in the more decorative public houses of
the city centre ensued and, suitably refreshed, we sauntered over to
the University complex (for this is where the Academy is housed kids)
not quite knowing what to expect.


Not quite knowing what to expect.
That statement, in a nutshell, can be considered as close as you can
get as a definition of the Julian Cope live experience. Regardless of
how many times you might already have seen him (and our party between
us must have notched up at least a hundred Cope gigs over the years)
none of us really could say what was going to happen, or indeed, what
he would play. All we had to go on were the excited ramblings of the
one fan who had seen him a few nights previously. “It’s going to be
very heavy”, we were told.


heavy it was. An indication of just how heavy was apparent when the
power trio took the stage. Looking as if they had raided the dressing
rooms of Kiss, the Sabbs and an Austrian cavalry regiment (to whit,
black leather, sparkly belts, knee length boots); they certainly cut
some jib. Guitarist Doggen had a painted his face Brain Donor style
whilst Copey boasted Raybans, a peaked, Wermacht-style officer’s cap
and a naked torso. In short, they looked amazing. Then it was straight
into a three song work–out from his new LP Dark Orgasm;
Cope taking over bass guitar duties and leaving the incredibly
complicated fretwork to be engineered by Mr Doggen. Mr E just embarked
on a set-long desiccation of the drum kit. There’s something afoot with
Cope’s musical vision at present; it has taken him at least 5 years and
the odd slip-up to re-align himself to this new, hard-as-nails funk
metal, but he’s finally got there. The music sounds so sleek and
full-on and focused, it is almost abstract, but always pulsating; going
places where no band has really trod since the MC5 or early Ash Ra


On this showing, Dark Orgasm is a must-have, (his last two full-length LP’s, Citizen Caind and Rome Wasn’t Burned in a Day fall
into this category too, for that matter) the band sounds confident and
assured within the music’s glacial, polished granite structures. What
is especially exciting is the way Cope has been able to rework his old
material through this new soundscape. The masterful display of
pyrotechnics witnessed during work-outs of stuff like Highway to the Sun, Double Vegetation and a truly magnificent Sun Spots
is surely testament to Copey’s talent as a writer. Though let’s be
honest at this point; the songs have successfully adapted to an almost
constant alteration in outlook and taste from their creator, pretty
much from 1980 onwards. Maybe it’s just because he has a very good idea
of what to cherry-pick from his huge back catalogue. Or maybe it is
just an example of how music is, at one level, beyond categorization.
Whatever the reason, Books sounded as if it was written yesterday, and Hung Up and Hanging Out to Dry
was just bloody splendid, prompting my rather squiffy teacher friend to
throw cheese strings at Cope (“I did it for the hell of it” he later


around the halfway point, Doggen and Mr E trooped off to take a break,
and on came Holy McGrail, to add some Moog to Julian’s freshly strapped
on guitar. At this point the acid troubadour side to JC’s oeuvre was
given its full expression with fabulous renditions of Julian H Cope, I’m Your Daddy, Parnormal in the West Country and the splendid I’m Living in the Room they found Saddam In.
Of course it wouldn’t be a gig without the numerous anecdotes and
asides, not to mention draughts of the most out-there, outrageous,
deep-seated wisdom that still, despite it sometimes sounding utterly
implausible and at odds with everything you take for granted in your
life, makes you want to drop everything and start afresh. It’s a mercy
to us all he’s not a lay preacher.


Time for Doggen and Mr E and time for some more rock. Things got considerably more drawn out in this second act, Brain Donor’s Get Off Your Pretty Face being given a punishing run through. Following that we witnessed a truly astonishing version of World Shut Your Mouth,
stripped of its rather clunky indie-beat and given a new metal
undercarriage that suited it very well. Copey’s mike stand suddenly
grew until it was feasible to be straddled and memories came flooding
back. It was a fabulous, reaffirming moment. As for Reynard the Fox, well… always my favourite, right from the day it came out, tonight Reynard the Fox was so sodding hard
it could easily have passed for Fenris the Wolf, freed from his
shackles and come to ravage and destroy. Cope screamed his way through
a set of semi-apocalyptic absurdities whilst his backing band just
morphed into Ash Ra Tempel circa Schwingungen. Bloody amazing. My teacher friend went utterly bonkers, as did a lot of outwardly respectable people. What an end to a gig.


my friends were jumping and laughing with the sheer giddy uplift the
night had given. No-one could adequately sum the night up (apart from
it being fucking amazing). Words, in some respect still fail me. It is
very easy to categorize Julian Cope as eccentric or wayward or an
institution. To me it’s frankly irrelevant, not to say patronizing and
downright lazy. What he is, in the truest sense of the word is a star.


Words: Richard Foster.

Photos (of Glasgow, but I had to get my hands on some) courtesy of Lady V of the Vanguard.