Grant Lee Hitchcock Grant Lee Phillips and Robyn Hitchcock
Concert appearance: Fri., 13 Oct. 2000
Theater of Living Arts
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US
No set list available.
allstar Daily News -- 10/16
ROBYN HITCHCOCK & GRANT LEE PHILLIPS BRING SONGS &
LAUGHTER IN TOUR OPENER
Having arrived at Philadelphia's Theater of the Living
Arts with barely enough time to tune their guitars and
scribble some song titles in magic marker on a paper
plate, Grant Lee Phillips and Robyn Hitchcock were
totally in their element Friday (Oct. 13) evening:
under-rehearsed and flying by the seat of their pants
on the opening date of their dual acoustic east coast
tour dubbed "Grant Lee Hitchcock."
As if to magnify the ramshackle nature of the evening,
the venue was double-booked with the cookie-cutter
modern rock troika of SR-71, Harvey Danger, and Wheatus
later in the evening, forcing an early start time of 7
p.m. for Phillips and Hitchcock, and an encore-medley
of David Bowie's "Sound & Vision" and "Ashes to Ashes,"
Dr. Hook's "When You're in Love with a Beautiful
Woman," and Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" performed
sans amplification in a jam-packed lobby for 150 or so
fans when the duo went over the allotted stage time.
Bringing the humorously informal spirit of Los Angeles
singer-songwriter haven Largo (where Phillips and
Hitchcock have teamed-up in the past) to the east
coast, the duo's 75-minute set could have easily
doubled as a workshop in bizarre improvisational
storytelling with musical accompaniment.
Standing center stage with acoustic guitars and a
grand piano at their disposal, the lanky and rubbery
Hitchcock and the comparatively diminutive Phillips
managed to dwarf the menacing banks of Marshall amps
and drum kits behind them with songs that plucked heart
strings and raw nerves (Phillips' solo and Grant Lee
Buffalo paeans to love lost, found, or hopelessly
unrequited) and tickled funny bones (Hitchcock's
punk-folk rave-ups that lampooned everything from
ubiquitous thespians like Gene Hackman to the pomp and
circumstance of big rock).
To introduce Hitchcock's classic ode to a female Elvis
impersonator "Queen Elvis," the pair traded barbs in
dead-on Elvis speak. Other dead rockers were fodder as
well. Hitchcock quipped that deceased cult icon Nick
Drake has "finally gone overground" thanks to
Volkswagen's commercial use of his music before
performing the semi-poignant "I Saw Nick Drake" off his
current Internet-only outtakes release, A Star for
While the banter, particularly Hitchcock's, got a bit
long winded at times (though lines like Phillips', "In
Indian music, this is 75 percent of the show," while
Hitchcock loudly tuned his guitar were priceless) there
was always the music to keep things on track. The
disparity in their voices -- Phillips' shifting from
goose-bump inducing falsetto to leathery baritone;
Hitchcock's a heavily anglicized form of sing-speak --
was utilized to great effect. Both voices became one on
Hitchcock's straight and sweet "I Feel Beautiful." And
when Phillips' falsetto raced toward the heavens on
Grant Lee Buffalo tunes like "Mockingbirds" and
"Fuzzy," Hitchcock lent anchoring vocal and guitar
support back here on earth.
Though they seem like strange bedfellows on paper,
Phillips and Hitchcock proved that on the 'ol wood and
wire, their musical union makes perfect -- albeit
somewhat off-kilter -- sense.
- Pat Berkery
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