Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

The Soft Boys
Concert appearance: Tue., 10 Apr. 2001

Knitting Factory
Los Angeles, California US

Set list:

Kingdom of Love
Pulse Of My Heart
Old Pervert
My Mind is Connected
Insanely Jealous
Human Music
Leppo and the Jooves
Bells of Rhymney (Pete Seeger/Idris Davies)
I Wanna Destroy You
Only the Stones Remain
Sudden Town
Underwater Moonlight
Encore: Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd)
Encore: Rock 'N' Roll Toilet
Encore: Mr. Kennedy
Encore: You'll Have to Go Sideways
Encore: I Got the Hots
Encore: Queen of Eyes
Encore: Give it to the Soft Boys
Encore: Where are the Prawns?
Encore: The Face of Death

I was in a nice centered spot about 10-15 feet from the stage -- the other listfolk were way over on the right in front, but I don't like standing directly in front of speakers. The people around me smelt like bologna, wheat toast and farts. Not necessarily in that order. Nauseated claustrophobia became a steady motif for me. Unfortunately, my spot also turned out to be *too* centered -- I barely saw Morris' playing at all, because frontman Robyn was blocking my view. Drat. That's life.

I approached this show with a slightly different attitude, I guess. I wasn't particularly excited about a Soft Boys Reunion Show, per se -- I was more excited about simply seeing Robyn play a lot of his great, early songs which I haven't seen performed before. Rew did add significant spark to certain songs where he and Robyn traded lead licks, but otherwise, I didn't feel like this lineup had a "unique magic" far beyond other bands I've seen behind Robyn. And Rew's contribution is sorta *necessarily* unusual, since he's the only "lead guitar"-style player Robyn has ever used. (Uhh...isn't he?)

...The big news for Fgz who saw other dates is that the band did include "I Got the Hots" as one of the encore tunes. Robyn preceded it with an apologetic introduction about not having played the song for XX years, and it being kinda rough. And it was. But by then, the three non-drumming Young Fresh Fellows were also onstage, and added plenty of juice to the performance. Ditto for "Queen of Eyes," "Give It to the Soft Boys," "You Have to Go Sideways" (well, this song only included *one* Fellow) and "The Face of Death." But, how did I get to the encore? I'm having trouble staying sequential, today.

I felt like the Soft Boys' performance was strong, but noticeably uneven. The intensity went up and down, from song to song. Some tunes had the old fire, others just didn't. "Tonight," "I Wanna Destroy You" and "Kingdom of Love" didn't, sad to say. They just weren't wound tight enough, and my mind's eye (picturing a young, intense, glowering Robyn) was instead greeted with the older, casual, lay-back-and-swivel Robyn. Didn't quite work for me. (It also didn't help that one of the Bologna & Fart People behind me was loudly singing all the "IIIIIIIIIIIIIII's" in "Destroy You," with little regard for pitch. Ouch. Two other B&Fers also hooted and aggressively flipped off Robyn, when he introduced "Destroy You" with some anti-Dubya comments. Blah.)

On the other hand, the band seemed to jump to life with the more rhythmically jagged tunes. "Leppo & the Jooves," "Old Pervert" (obviously the highlight of Rew's night), "Insanely Jealous" and "Only the Stones Remain" were all fantastic, for instance. If I'm thinking of the right song, Robyn really put his all into the latter tune, adding all sorts of illustrative (that's *illustrative*, not "quirky") hand gestures to the verses. There were also a few songs with inspired guitar duels between Robyn and Kimberley, but I can't quite name which ones they were. "Underwater Moonlight"? "Where are the Prawns"? That rare "Kennedy" song? I'm just not sure. I wasn't taking notes, on paper. Everyone who saw the previous dates knows which ones, anyway. Possibly "Astronomy Domine" -- *that* was exciting to see performed, though it could've been played better.


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