Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock
Concert appearance: Mon., 25 Sep. 1995

Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, California US

Set list:

De Chirico Street
Devil's Radio
Wide Open Star
The President
I'm Only You
Cool Bug Rumble
Glass Hotel
You and Oblivion
Queen of Eyes
I Something You
Kingdom of Love
Encore: Statue with a Walkman
Encore: Visions of Johanna (Bob Dylan)
Encore: Birdshead
Encore: Only the Stones Remain

Sorry, no set list or recording or anything like that this time.

This was probably the most depressing Robyn show I've ever seen him give.
There was a single funny song (Trilobite) with a little story, but otherwise
it consisted mostly of his new style of extremely simple, elliptically
phrased introspective stuff: Woman In You, You And Oblivion, Wide Open Star,
a cover of Visions of Johanna, Statue With A Walkman (funny vocal bit in
the middle, though), Cool Bug Rumble. I liked hearing the new stuff, but
I'm afraid that my friends, who I dragged to the show on the promise of
"silly songs and sillier stories," were disappointed. (Last year had seen
a lot of storytelling and I Got A Message and Balloon Man.) So my question
is: Is Robyn All Right? I began to wonder if he'd had a terrible day and
was working it out by playing some of his most droning material.

Someone brought Robyn a birthday present, but he didn't open it on
stage. People called out "Happy Birthday" but I don't think he was
into audience interaction this evening. (After the first few songs,
he quit doing much in the way of introductions.)

The Trilobite song is totally great, though, and I haven't been able to
get it out of my head all day! And I got a T-shirt from Robyn and asked
him about another Neurotic in-store session ("no time for that this year,
sorry," he said). He seemed a bit harried and distant -- as we walked in
to the Great American Music Hall, he showed up suddenly and apologized
for having missed his sound check. He's looking tall (as usual) and
grey (more than usual). And he hasn't stopped accumulating odd shirts.

Tiddas, the Australian folk band, have great instruments and voices and
do great arrangements; they need to get better songs, some less obviously
rooted in political protest demonstrations (the whole "wimmin's music"
scene), and they'll be fantastic. They will be back in San Francisco
in November on tour with Billy Bragg, with whom they will go much better.

Moris Tepper was simply one opening act too many.

I didn't spot any Fegmaniax at the show. Did anyone tape it?

- David


Sure can't let David's post be the last word on last night's show.
He is right that the song selection was fairly light on the silly
side. Banter was more sparse than other times I'd seen him, though
hardly absent. So what's left? How about an evening of beautifuly
rendered SONGS. Robyn was in exquisite voice last night, the highs
just floated out of his skull and wafted around the room, the lows
were thick and creamy. It was great to see him working so hard. I
thought Trilobyte and Statue With a Walkman more than balanced out
the more severe beauty of, for example, a half-tempo Birdshead
(almost torture, that one. anyone tape it?)

I guess it all depends on what you came to hear.


>This was probably the most depressing Robyn show I've ever seen him give.
Well, I haven't seen Robyn live in a loooooonngg time so I don't have any
recent shows to compare with this. Here are some of my impressions, however.
Anyone else who was there is free to shoot me down in flames if they

* He's wearing well! Despite being of similar vintage, he's retained
considerably more hair than yours truly. (Also, what's left of mine is
decidedely grey, though I do have all my own teeth, limbs and internal
* His singing is _far_ better than I remember. Wonderful! (Has he taken
lessons or something?)
* His guitar playing was err... "fearless". The gratuitous Richard Thompson
impressions at the end of a couple of the songs need a little more practice
(or a following wind) - still, I was impressed that he attempted that sort
of virtuoso playing at all. I also thought I caught more than a few fumbles
in some of the songs and wished for Morris to be there to keep his timing on
track. (An advantage of solo performance, I suppose--if you make a mistake
you can just keep on playing and hope nobody noticed)
* Boy, he _does_ blink alot. Someone commented on this in the list a few
weeks ago, and yes, it's true. When I used to see him (_many_ moons ago)
his characteristic stance was a manic unblinking stare at some point beyond
the back of the room. The blinking started as soon as he set foot on stage,
so I don't think it's sweat in his eyes, as someone suggested.
*The stories were great, but petered out about half way through the set and
there were some strange dedications in his encore; "for Annie from her
friend" (Birdshead) and "for Mark Ellen, in quotes". Any idea what that was
all about?
* Yes I could have done with more uptempo/funny/wierd stuff too.
* The highlights? I agree, Trilobite was great. Also Glass Hotel, Statue
with a Walkman and Visions of Johanna (great singing). DeChirico Street was
a good opener. Nice versions of Devils Radio, I'm only You and Queen of
* Low points? You and Oblivion and Cool Bug Rumble. Also, Wide Open Star is
a pretty lame song (though sung well).

On a scale of 1-10 I'd give it a B.

>I began to wonder if he'd had a terrible day and
>was working it out by playing some of his most droning material.
Judging by the McCabes set lists posted here, the SF set would seem to be
pretty similar (though not identical) -- so I don't think the song choice
was due to "a bad day" or some such.

>...People called out "Happy Birthday" but I don't think he was
>into audience interaction this evening...
Since it's _not_ his birthday I imagine he'd decided to treat it with the
contempt it deserved.

>And I got a T-shirt from Robyn...
Hmm. Anyone else agree with me that the T-shirts were pretty dissapointing.
I took a look, but decided to give it a miss.

I agree with the previous comments. Entertaining enough, but I wish they'd
concentrate more on their aboriginal roots music and less on the 1960's
protest songs.

>Moris Tepper was simply one opening act too many.
A total waste of time, IMHO. I'm concerned that he will be in the studio
with RH. --Does not bode well.

>I didn't spot any Fegmaniax at the show.
I was the one with the big invisible "Fegmaniax" sign over my head. Perhaps
you didn't use the secret handshake?


Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, 9/25/95

Brought a couple of freshly bottled Egyptian Cream Stouts to the show--gave
one to an appreciative Mr. Hitchcock before the show (while he was taping up
a hand drawn sign about T-Shirt sales) and nearly got kicked out for
drinking the other one during Morris Tepper's performance.

Enjoyed Tiddas, could've done without Tepper, & Robyn was absolutely
brilliant. Sitting next to us was a couple who had never heard Robyn's
music before. They asked me for some history of the man, and wondered if a
Hitchcock Web site existed. Their reaction to the concert later in this

set list & comments:
DeCIRICO STREET- very good tune which cries out for a full band
YOU & I (?) - Not sure if this is the actual title. It's the tune from
Perspex with the line "tethered by the head-phones"
DEVIL'S RADIO - another good tune which would be awesome with a band.
Mentions Rush Limbaugh. In his intro he spoke of the political left and
right in England and remarked "I think the right is wrong and the left is
WIDE OPEN STAR - new tune, I guess. nice, but nothing too noteworty.
THE PRESIDENT - Beautiful. His voice cracking in all the right places.
I'M ONLY YOU - intro'd this by saying "if you miss somebody enough you
become them," then added that "obviously this doesn't apply to the
Christian church" (or words to that affect).
COOL BUG RUMBLE - good thing he told us up front the word was "Bug" (or was
it "buck?") and not "Butt", or this one would've conjured up all kinds of
images I could do without. I'd describe this as a pG rated "Wafflehead" set
to a cool boogie tune. Strapped on the harmonica for this one.
TRILOBITE - VERY familiar sounding tune about a long extinct crustacean (I
belive the Fegmania artwork has some squiggley drawings that are supposet
to be Trilobites). He intro'd the song by saying that this creature was
extinct long before man gave it the name "trilobite", drawing the analogy
of a guy called Jacob who dies, and thousands of years later archeologists
dig up his bones and call him Neil. I believe there was also a Phil Collins
reference in the intro. WHERE HAVE I HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE?? Did he ever
perform this with the Egyptians, maybe around the time of Queen Elvis?
GLASS HOTEL - nice moment. Moved me to smooch the wife.
YOU & OBLIVION - not a real standout
QUEEN OF EYES - !!!!! altered lyrics include "in this horrible world of
decay and abuse/it's good to know that somebody's got an excuse" as well
as the extra verse "I wish I was live/I wish I was Dead/She only wishes she
could go to your head"
SOMETHING IN YOU - (or "Woman In You"?) New tune, I of those
where he never seems to latch on to the note he's looking for. could've
done without it. BTW, either before this song or after it he said "hi" to
Mark Ellen, a name I believe I recognize from this list.
KINGDOM OF LOVE - and the crowd went nuts
** encore **
STATUE WITH A WALKMAN - funny old-timer ramble that went on about twice as
long as the recorded version. Somewhere in there he referenced listening
to a digitally remastered Don Henley CD. This song was possibly the
highlite of the evening, for me anyway. Stayed in my head until...well,
frankly I'm STILL humming it.
VISIONS OF JOHANNA - when he strapped on the harmonica and said "I do this
one every two years here" I had a feeling this was coming, having seen him
sing it several years ago at the same venue. Enjoyed then, never having
heard the song before. Went out & bought "Blonde On Blonde" after that
show and ever since then I'd been dying to hear him sing it again. :) :)
BIRDSHEAD - another smooch for the Mrs.
ONLY THE STONES REMAIN - interesting hearing this performed acoustically. I
thought when he picked up the pace for "the stones have forgotten them"
that it would've sounded better had he kept that pace and rocked out for
the second half of the song. But what the hey, he's the genius, not me.
Dedicated to Michy.

Bought one of the T-shirts before the show...Black with a drawing of the
Thoth (facing right) wearing a leaf on his head. Writing says "The
Afterleaf." He was hanging out at the T-shirt table at the time. Someone
asked him what The Afterleaf was and he replied with a knowing grin: "It's
what comes after the leaf" (Thanks Robyn). His name appears under the
drawing. Back of the shirt has a snake climbing up a staff, says "Spring
into Autumn" on top and I think something about fruit on the bottom...can't
tell you exactly what it says 'cause I'm wearing it right now and I can't
see back there. I also asked him if he was going to be doing any TV on this
tour and he said "I hope not", explaining that TV appearances took up time
that could be better used for something else. He seemed in a chipper mood.

After the show, the no-longer-virgin couple that was next to us had huge
smiles on their faces and said only "That was great!" Perhaps they'll be
joining us here soon.

sorry I've rambled so much.And sorry also for any outdated posts due to our
ever-crashing system here. (I don't need directions to the GAMH any more,
for one)
-Russ "Glad I didn't have to watch that ball hit the crossbar"

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