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*CANCELLED* Lloyd Cole

Saturday, June 15, 2024
Doors: 6:30pm | Show: 8pm
$25 - $45 advance | $28 - $48 day of show


  • This is a ticketed event. Everyone must have a ticket for entry.
  • Join us before the show for dinner & drinks in The Lounge, our full-service restaurant & bar on the upstairs level which opens at 6pm. View menu & make a reservation.
  • Mezzanine ticket holders are seated on the balcony overlooking the main stage, with access to a private bar, restrooms, and dining area where you can order from The Lounge menu.
  • If you require accessible seating and none is available online, please contact us at or 215-222-1400 prior to the show so we can best accommodate your needs.
  • Join the WCL Fan Club for priority entry, food & merch discounts, exclusive offers, and more. Mega & Ultimate Fan levels include 24-hour presale access and no ticket fees.
  • World Cafe Live is a nonprofit independent venue where artistry meets social impact. Every purchase helps support our music education & community programs.
  • See FAQ for more information.
"I certainly didnʼt set about making something that was going to be quite this intense,” says Lloyd Cole about his stunning new album On Pain. “But I wanted it to be more extreme in all directions: I wanted the minimalist stuff to be more minimal, I wanted the poppy stuff to be more poppy, and I wanted the abstract stuff to be more abstract.” And so, to paraphrase one of the songs from On Pain, Coleʼs music has become more of what it is: thereʼs an elegant economy here that only comes with experience, magnified by an evocative way with technology that can only come with insatiable curiosity. Sixteen albums and nearly 40 years into his illustrious career, Lloyd Cole is exploring what the 21st-century version of what a singer-songwriter is. This is certainly sophisticated music, both harmonically and sonically, but the spaces within it, and the straightforward language Cole croons over it, allow in ineffable feelings: often, theyʼre powerful currents of melancholy, even dread. What with the current state of things, the songs assume an almost oracular feeling, like maybe On Pain is a musical canary in a cultural coal mine. Although best known for guitar-oriented music with Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and a long line of acclaimed solo records, Cole has made plenty of exquisite synth-based music: 2001ʼs Plastic Wood, 2013ʼs Selected Studies, Vol. I (with Hans-Joachim Roedelius of legendary Krautrock band Cluster), and 2015ʼs sublimely minimalist 1D. 2019ʼs Guesswork achieved a compelling singularity between digital electronics and the literate pop that made Coleʼs name. But On Pain takes it a step further into the future. After Cole used a random digital noise generator as the basis for the four long, abstract compositions of 2020ʼs Dunst, “I decided Iʼd apply that musique concrète approach to songs,” he says. “And thatʼs how a lot of On Pain was created. The challenge was to make music that Iʼd want to listen to, a record that might be able to stand next to records that I love.” Besides Coleʼs four songs, former Commotions keyboardist Blair Cowan contributed the music for three songs and Commotions guitarist Neil Clark wrote the music for one, then Cole edited the tracks, reshaped some of the sounds, and added additional instruments, lyrics and vocals at The Establishment, the studio in the attic of his home in western Massachusetts. The only other musicians on the album are backing singers Joan Wasser (Joan as Police Woman), Renée LoBue (Elk City) and Dave Derby (Gramercy Arms). While he was recording, Cole FaceTimed with producer Chris Hughes (Tears for Fears, Adam and the Ants, Robert Plant), then traveled to Hughesʼ studio in Wiltshire, England, where they did some instrumental overdubs and mixed the record. That preposition in the album title is very deliberate. “I really donʼt like the idea that songs are about things,” Cole explains. “I like the idea that songs are things — and that they exist independently of their creator. But if Iʼm conscious of anything with my writing, itʼs trying to write from the part of life that Iʼm in now — there are aspects to being an older person that provide angles that didnʼt exist before.” So, itʼs no use breaking down what the songs are about, and instead focus what theyʼre on: trust, friendship, wolves, a dislocation from reality, and, yes, pain, all conveyed in varying permutations of Minimalism, catchy synth-pop and the candor of the singer-songwriter tradition, conjuring an all too vulnerable humanity out of silicon chips. The troubled characters, the existential unreality, the incantatory spell of the music all reach their apotheosis in “This Canʼt Be Happening”: just twelve words repeated more than a dozen times, it sums up the surreality of tragedy, to these ears anyway, and the way we at first try, over and over, to deny its truth. It could be interpreted as a terrifying song, but its very grace, as with the rest of On Pain, performs the kind of alchemy that the best music can achieve: transcending anguish by making art out of it. “All I want to do is make beautiful things,” says Cole. “I just try to make the best music I can and hope that it brings beauty into your life.” — Michael Azerrad New York City, March 2023