Gig Scene: Looking Julian Cope in the eye

Julian Cope, 2011
Julian Cope, 2011
Share this article

By Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers

I looked Julian Cope right in the eyes. I wanted to see whether this semi-legend was on drugs – or simply a bit bonkers – and I thought if I stared hard enough I would be able to tell.

But the visionary musician, author, antiquary and poet was wearing dark shades and I couldn’t see a thing.

A moment later he took his sunglasses off and there were his eyes.

The skinny, straggly-haired figure in black facing me was clearly a bit of a character.

But I couldn’t honestly say whether he was on drugs or a bit bonkers from that encounter in the labyrinth of corridors backstage at Harrogate Theatre before his appearance for late local promoter John Haxby as a headline act for Harrogate International Festival Fringe when I was running it a fe w years back.

I bring up the subject of the ex-Teardrop Explodes’ frontman because at least one song he played live that memorable night with his menacing-looking backing band Black Sheep has finally made it onto a record.

Anyone in the audience that night will probably remember They Were On Hard Drugs, if only for the title!

It’s just one of 11 songs on the great man’s new album, Revolutionary Suicide.

For more information, visit

There was a little bit of excitement for Wally fans last week at the Blues Bar in Harrogate.

Fiddle player Pete Sage, who spends most of his time in Germany these days with his own successful musical career in a triple platinum album selling band called Santiano, popped in on a break to play with The Paul Middleton Band.

Now, it’s easy to read too much into things but I’m convinced the highly-regarded prog rock band, who were championed by Bob Harris and enjoyed a successful reunion, will play live again.

I hear the unusual combination of top indie rock band Hope & Social and a ladies choir proved a big hit at Knaresborough’s feva Festival at the weekend.

Playing in Holy Trinity Church, the Leeds-based band were supported by Harrogate choir Northern Songbirds.

As they showed in Grassington in June, Hope and Social have an anthemic, big sound songbook ideal for choral backing.

It’s to feva organisers’ credit they brought two such different musical forces together.

The most musically ambitious local rock band I’ve come across for a long time is back. Strangers in Paradise will be unveiling new tracks from their recent EP The Story Part 2, not to forget their new drummer Andy Schofield, at the Blues Bar this Sunday night.

As well as virtuoso rock theatrics, lead guitarist /vocalist Steve Mosby and bassist Andy Mosby assure Gig Scene that their penchant for mixing in elements of rap and funk will not be forgotten.

Crucially, this Sunday’s show will also feature guest rappers Tre and Soul Deep appearing on stage with this classic rock group. Now that’s still a rare occurence even in these days of genre-blending.

Support comes from Aaron Bertenshaw.