So which Julian Cope do you remember? The pop star Cope of Teardrop Explodes, the Liverpool post-punk band that enlivened Top of the Pops with reassuringly left-of-centre gems such as Treason and Reward? The solo Cope wrapped around a gravity-defying mic stand-cum-lectern as he crooned his solo hits, World Shut your Mouth and Trampolene?
It has taken several years, but as Dublin Liberties singer Imelda May knows only too well, patience is a virtue. In 2009, the then 34-year-old was little more than a lick on the lips of a mainstream audience. She had travelled over from Dublin to London ten years previously, looking for (in the words of a song she knew off by heart, Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild) “adventure and whatever comes our way”, only to discover that things don’t always work out the way you’d ideally want.
Even when he’s sitting on a comfy sofa, with a glass of iced water resting on a nearby table, David Gray’s overall demeanour seems taut, tense and not a little bit constricted. It was exactly the same over 20 years ago, when the UK singer-songwriter released his first pair of albums, A Century Ends (1993) and Flesh (1994), two records that crackled with the diatribes of Bob Dylan and the knots of Van Morrison, and fused them into a new kind of toughness – acidic, acerbic and melodic with a side order of bile.