You will already know, Dear Reader, that I am a big fan of eccentric singer/songwriter, antiquarian and writer Julian Cope. He’s currently touring and on Friday night we caught up with the old hippy at Reading Concert Hall.
The hairy hippy himself
He’s touring without a band, and to be honest I much prefer his gigs without a band. It gives him time to play the songs he wants to play and to go ‘off on one’. And boy does he! Between songs Cope shares his opinions about religion (he loathes the pope, distrusts theists and organised religions) and rants and rages against bigotry, hypocrisy, homophobia and misogyny, citing personally felt examples with stand-up humour. Some might consider his opinions to be extreme and many of them are off-the-wall, but I happen to agree with a good many of them. You can never be sure what he’s going to say, which way his ranting will go. He is intelligent, rational and lucid, and a gifted communicator.
Cope brings people together. It’s because of Cope that I met Moth in 2003, and by going to lots of his gigs, we have built up a group of supportive, diverse and fascinating friends from across the UK – and indeed, the world. On Friday we met up with 20 or more of them before the gig. (If you’re one of them reading this right now: *waves* ) He played a set of songs going back from his Teardrop Explodes days of the late 70s and early 80s right up to the present day. His lyrics are as witty and opinionated as his spoken rants. On Friday he sounded wonderful – clear guitar and mellotron – but for me, most of all, it’s his beautiful voice singing those fabulous tunes. For the past couple of years he’s gone down quite a grungey musical route which I believe masks some of his finest qualities. But hey – he’s an artist and can do what the hell he likes. And so he should.
Cope lectures away to his fans, sharing his latest thoughts
He will not compromise who he is; if he wants to wear leopard-skin leggings or a German military hat, he will. He has often been called a loony, but how crazy is a man who has raised a family from a comfortable base in the heart of prehistoric Wiltshire, written internationally-acclaimed books on subjects that he loves, written and released songs for more the 25 years and come through it all with good humour and a devoted fan-base? No wonder he’s smiling.