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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    Great teeth, Julian Cope. I reckon he's living more cleanly than his cultivated crazy self-image lets on. Nasty cuts to his otherwise pretty trim tum though, lacerations caused by swinging around the Cope-issue scaffolding tube mike stand partway through his freeform anti-god rant in the closing number, Reynard.

    He was in great form in Manchester, full of bile for organised religions, full of guile on the bass guitar. This man likes to remind us that he is a writer of some subtance, rightly so. But he's also a very knowing, self-created, self-aware rock-and-roll cartoon. "No-one's more formula than me," he says, pouting proudly, before strutting and soaring into another sonic adventure somewhere between Can and Motley Crue. His ace guitarist Doggen is painted up like a slapdash Alice Cooper, or perhaps Charlie Caroli on speed. I couldn't see the drummer but I think he was happily wearing a sloppy-Ziggy look too.

    Cope is also a rock preacher. Reserves his greatest sermons for rebuttals of the gods of war created by the world's major religions, reverencing humanity and the capacity for good in the pagan soul. It's uncomfortable listening for the vicar in the audience but most of the time he's got a point and makes it well. He's happy to live the dreams of Irsad Manji, the Muslim authoress of THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM who has written: “Our freedom will remain incomplete as long as we don't make jokes about Allah and his messenger.”

    In a week of burning Danish flags, Julian Cope gets away with songs demanding that 'burka woman' throws off her mask. He only manages to escape unscathed from this, I guess, because his audiences are almost exclusively half-stoned white liberals. It's faux-radicalism uncomplicated by confrontation. Thus very rock and roll. But I reckon he's got the mind to match any argument that might come his way. Behind the cartoon, there's something substantial at work. For which we must all rejoice in the words of the maestro himself, awwwwwwwrrrrrrright!!!!!!!