What's on: Lloyd Cole, Darwen Library Theatre, March 5

IN 1984 and only in his early twenties, Lloyd Cole was the golden boy of the British music scene.

With his band The Commotions, he released the album Rattlesnakes, filled with catchy hooks and clever lyrics which won over critics and fans alike.

Two more albums followed but within five years The Commotions had disbanded and Cole was out on his own.

And for the last 20-plus years that’s where he has remained, quietly writing, releasing critically-acclaimed albums and touring.

Now he’s returning to the UK from his adopted home in Massachusetts for a series of intimate solo shows.

“When I’m performing a solo show I sort of make up the set as I go along,” he said.

“These are the shows I like best. I’ve got my book of songs for reference and I may have some new ones to try out.

“I try and get some ideas into shape so that I can perform them. Some of them come quickly and I’m happy with them. Others hang around for years and I’m still not satisfied with them.”

Having written songs such as Perfect Skin and Forest Fire when only just out his teens, you could forgive Lloyd for resting on his laurels but he remains as driven as ever.

“I don’t want to be seen as an oldies’ artist,” he said.

“I am hard on myself and my songs and any new song I feel should add something to my previous work.

“We all know of artists who have gone on too long and haven’t really contributed anything new for a number of years but I’m not at that stage yet.”

Lloyd has a devoted following and via the internet they have actually helped his career. Devotees call themselves The Young Idealists and volunteer to put up flyers about forthcoming live shows.

His most recent album Broken Record was in the main funded by the fans themselves.

“In the early days you might see the odd familiar face down the front,” said Lloyd, “But now through the internet I know a lot about a number of the fans as people.”

For all his transatlantic lifestyle, Lloyd is no stranger to East Lancashire, having studied for his A-levels at Runshaw College in Chorley.

“My parents were golf club stewards and they moved to Shaw Hill Golf Club when I was 16,” he said.

Lloyd is still a keen golfer, playing off a five handicap.

“It’s one of the few times when I can truly switch my mind off my music and concentrate on something else,” he said.

*Lloyd Cole, Darwen Library Theatre, Monday, March 5. Details from the box office on 01254 706006 or the King George’s Hall box office on 0844 847 1664.

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