Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock
Concert appearance: Mon., 15 Nov. 2004

World Café Live
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US

Set list:

A Skull, A Suitcase & A Long Red Bottle of Wine
I Got the Hots
Ghost Ship
Veins of the Queen
Penelope's Angles
Brenda's Iron Sledge medley
Funky Town (Lipps Inc.) medley
Dark Globe (Syd Barrett) veggies rule :)
Mexican God
Cheese Alarm
Driving Aloud (Radio Storm)
Creeped Out
No, I Don't Remember Guildford
Visions of Johanna (Bob Dylan)
Encore: Balloon Man
Encore: Speed of Things
Encore: Gene Hackman
Encore: Well Well Well (John Lennon)
Encore: Full Moon In My Soul
Encore: Rock Your Baby (George McCrea) medley
Encore: When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman (Dr. Hook) medley
Encore: Sound & Vision (David Bowie) medley
Encore: All Shook Up (Elvis Presley/Otis Blackwell)

World Cafe Live is a beautiful place to see a show--easy to park, spacious, nice stage,
great sound, unobtrusive wait staff, smoke free, reasonably priced food and
drink. An altogether pleasant experience.

Robyn seemed a bit tired but the only other thing I could have
possibly asked from the show would have been some songs on electric. Maybe a
couple more songs from Spooked also. He looked great, his voice sounded good,
his guitar playing was stellar and the set kept going on and on. I hope a good
recording surfaces. This was definitely the warm fuzzies. He said he would be
signing things after the show but I had to leave.

There were a couple more encores after a short break and a change of clothing, the medley
unmiked down on the floor with the audience, the second up on stage (with Elvis
sneer and all!):

Warm fuzzies back atcha :)

I would rate the 4 shows as follows:

1 Philly
2 Brooklyn/Scranton
3 Hoboken

What Hoboken lacked in focus it more than made up for in length. Brooklyn
was great but seemed forced due to time constraints. The Scranton show was
great but short and not a request show. The Philly show just had all the
components for a great Robyn show; plenty of surreal monologues, some
surprises in the set, decent length, an honest to goodness encore on top of
his 'there is no encore tonight, this is the encore' policy and a bizarre
Bowie impression to close it.

The encore had him coming back on stage in his traveling clothes. He
didn't plug in and just hopped into the crowd and with the crowd encircling
him he launched into Rock your Baby and a medley of twisted Philly Soul .
He didn't move until he started playing Sound & Vision in a funny Bowie
voice and then stood at the edge of the crowd hamming it up. He hopped back
on stage and did All Shook Up, not just a vocal impression of Elvis but the
whole shebang, hips and sneering lip. I wish I had video!

I want to do it again!


You know, every time he rolls into "town" (which has
changed a lot for me in the last few years) I think,
oh man. Should I go? The bitter disappointment of
the Soft Boys reunion lingered long in my mouth. To
explain: I flew on a propeller plane from Evansville,
Indiana to NYC (it was a windy day, and I mightily
bowed to the plastic bag god on the plane) to see the
Soft Boys, no strike that, to see Kimberley Rew
perform a Soft Boys show at Maxwell's and everybody
else show up either stoned (Robyn), fat, old and
lifeless (Morris - and he was SUCH a great drummer in
the 80's and 90's - wha' happened?!?), or petrified
and still re-learning the tunes (Matthew - who did
answer my emails, cheers mate). The Irving Plaza show
was better, but still the Young Fresh Fellows blew
them off the stage. Also, I had seen a questionable
show at the Bowery Ballroom during the Jewels For
Sophia period.

So I think - should I go? Last Halloween at the
Bottom Line was an awesome show. Luxor grows on me
more every day. I like Spooked, I love the fact that
RH is playing with musicians worthy of playing his
songs, but do I like Spooked enough to go see him
again? At the last minute I called to see if there
were tickets left. There were. I went.

Let's put it this way: I'm never going to question
the call of the Feg again. When RH comes, I will go.
It's as simple as that. It's been 17 years since I
saw my first Robyn Hitchcock show and, I kid you not,
this may have been the best. Why? Was it the fact
that what I consider his "throwaway" songs like
Penelope's Angles and Speed of Things were like
shining crystals gleaming through the 21st century
darkness? Was it the fact that he played the top two
songs on the request list that I threw at him (Mexican
God and Idonia)? Was it Brenda's Iron Sledge aka
Funkytown? Was it Gene Hackman?

Just for opening the show with A Skull, A Suitcase,
and A Long Red Bottle of Wine, he deserves to be in
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I've never seen so clearly the fact that you cannot
separate the man from his music. He reached back into
his catalog and delivered unbelievable versions of
Heaven and Ride. He never sang them with that much
emotion in the 80's and 90's. During Idonia, I swear
he was tearing up. The man who invented himself with
the lightbulb head moved to tears by the words of his
songs? More likely he'd ooze pus all over the
audience. You know what I mean. I've never seen him
express so clearly how much these songs meant to him.
Maybe it's because all these years I've been thinking
about what they meant to me when he sang them. I feel
so selfish. As a fellow performer, I know that
feeling when you're singing onstage and you sing a
word or a phrase that just rings out that universal
freakin' chord and you feel overwhelmed with emotion.
It doesn't happen all the time, especially to
hardasses like me and RH hahaha.

Sorry I doubted you, RH. Never again. I'm on this
train for life. Feg Long and Undulate. Here's to
another 17 years. Great gig, baby. Wish I could
remember the set list to recite to you guys, but was
too busy connecting with the MONKEY GOD, Hanuman,
during the set. Aw yeah indeed.


Delurking briefly to say that the show at the new World Cafe Live space
was a lot of fun. Robyn had quite the frog in his throat at the
beginning, but he limbered up. Vocally, that is
physically, it was pretty funny to watch him bend over like a stork to pick up all the
notes people kept putting at his feet. I'm terrible at remembering which
songs were played in what order, so I'll leave that to others, but I can
proffer a visual tidbit: a purple light shining on Robyn's silver hair
turns it into a wonderfully Warholian lavender thatch.

The new venue is nice and sounds great, but it's oddly sterile. It kind
of feels like being the first to arrive at a party - nobody's figured
out where the good parking is yet, everything is spiffy clean, and the
staff is all bright-eyed and keyed-up. It needs a few hundred beers to
wash over the floor before it starts to feel alive. Although, as someone
I was with said, that all stopped mattering once Robyn began to play.


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