Though nominally a book launch for Julian Cope, this is better described as a happening. The arch-contrarian runs it like a ringmaster, starting with Q&A for his new 750-page Faber & Faber tome Copendium, which celebrates independent music in idiosyncratic style (part analysis, part opinion, lots of humorous diversions plus some excellent playlists). He introduces some pretty average artists who apparently illustrate modern music: the noise duo Fat Paul who drop squirly psychotronic bombs onto a field of drone and Reading’s Workin’ Man Noise Unit who are a baby version of Cope’s elderly-men-in-leather Black Sheep, playing explosive hard rock from 30 years before they were spawned. They’re easily upstaged though by Cope’s YouTube illustrated lecture of the Pretty Things and an amazingly discordant but exciting screening of Fido’s Blues, an account of Black Sheep’s tour of revolutionary English sites.
Cope himself is bonkers but a brilliant raconteur. Word is that there was a wobble earlier in the day when he refused to play if he had to enter the store by the front entrance (he's a back door man) but, while that delayed the start, he’s otherwise in fine form. He seems more Scouse than ever, cruelly funny and ever so slightly camp in leathers, shorts and wellies, set off by tinted glasses and an admiral’s cap. You don’t agree with him always but he carries you along on his enthusiasms – and drops sense bombs on the way as with his thoughts on the transformative effect of technology. And at the end of the evening, he spends ages with each person, signing books, posing for pix and debating rock’n’roll, greeting his congregation like the High Priest of the Church of the Atheistic Rocker. It’s a long evening for a book signing but the lunatic circus makes it all worthwhile.