Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock Deni Bonet
Concert appearance: Sun., 27 Oct. 1996

Concert Hall
Toronto, Canada
with Billy Bragg

Set list:

Devil's Radio (acoustic)
Balloon Man
No, I Don't Remember Guildford
DeChirico St. w/Deni
Egyptian Cream w/Deni
Statue With A Walkman w/Deni
Beautiful Girl
I'm Only You
The Devil's Coachman
I Am Not Me (electric)
You And Oblivion
Encore: Sinister But She Was Happy (acoustic)
Encore: I Got a Message For You
Encore: Driving Aloud (Radio Storm) (electric) w/Deni

This is my report on the RH/BB show in Toronto on Sun. Oct. 27/96.
There are also comments about Billy Bragg as well as Robyn so be
forwarned (I am a fan of both so...)

I got there at about 7:20 PM - and the doors had been open for about 20 minutes (aagh!)
So I rush upstairs to find that all the seats were taken -
however, there was a very good corner I could squeeze into that
gave me a perfectly clear view of the stage (from the back of the hall
which is not far). The entire theatre was PACKED - I estimate at least
800 people - they DEFINITELY broke the fire code.

At 8PM *sharp* Robyn started. Here's what he played:

[enter Robyn w/ acoustic - 8:00 PM]
Devil's Radio (scratched vinyl version)
Balloon Man
Guildford (new song)
1974 (new song)

[enter Deni Bonet]
DeChirico St.
Egyptian Cream
Statue With A Walkman

[exit Deni]
Beautiful Girl
I Am Only You
The Devil's Coachman

[change acoustic to electric Tele]
I Am Not Me
You And Oblivion

[encore - solo acoustic]
Sinister But She Was Happy
I've Got A Message For You

[Deni returns; switch to electric]
Driving Aloud (Radio Storm)
[Finish - 9:20 PM]

Comments: It was a good set but not a brilliant one. One BIG problem was that the
fire alarm kept going off! I think that in Robyn's set, it went off 6 times!
Ironically, it never went off once in Billy's set.... (if it wasn't for
the fact they have the same manager I'd say something was up).
Funny thing was the first time (which was the longest) RH had JUST
started Devil's Radio - so he started doing this skipped record thing,
repeating snippets of the first line over and over like a broken record -
very funny (it won the audience over a bit). "1974" was the highlight tho -
everyone I met said that was the best song (and I never met any
RH fans at the show - all BB fans!). Deni was VERY good - she really adds
to the songs visually and musically. The other highlight was Radio Storm
which was done somewhat like Hendrix at Woodstock ;-) - very powerful. However,
he played a lot of obscurer and slower songs (and some were stretched out to
death like Statue) and that really detracted from the set (I think that a
faster paced set would have been better). It certainly did not help in
making fans IMHO. But I really enjoyed it all the
same (esp. when Deni was on - the pace picked up then (except Statue)).
However, the audience really didn't care that much for him (polite applause at best).
But he played 1:20 which is a miracle for opening acts.

Then after a VERY short break (~15 minutes) Billy came on
(to a pile of reggae music!?!). Here's what he played:

[Enter Billy w/ green acoustic-electric - 9:40 PM]
The World Turned Upside Down
To Have And To Have Not
She's Got A New Spell

[switch to solid black electric Strat]
St. Swithin's Day
>From Red To Blue
Cindy Of 1,000 Lives
Accident Waiting To Happen

Levi Stubb's Tears

The Space Race Is Over
Greetings To The New Brunette
The Short Answer

[encore; electric]
The Times They Are A Changin' (dedicated to the Bank Of Montreal)
Waiting For The Great Leap Forward

[encore; electric]
There Is Power In A Union
Ontario, Quebec And Me
A New England (A.D. 1996)
[finish - 11:10]

Comments: This was a stellar set. He was playing brilliantly
and the song selection was very good (a great mix of stuff).
Plus his comments on the Days Of Action (which played at),
and other political things were very very funny - esp. funny
when he started calling Ontario a state and the audience booed
him - and he said something like "state? Province? What
difference does it make to the suits?" - quite hillarious.
There were a lot of hightlights - New England, Sugardaddy,
Short Answer, Levi Stubb's - pretty much every song except Cindy and Power
were great (those two I could live without).

And unlike other shows that I've seen mentioned on the list,
the balance was roughly 50-50 in time (RH was on for 1:20,
BB on for 1:30 - and I know this cause I timed each set with my

Now comes the fun part!!!!

I went down to the stage door and asked the security guys
if either were coming out for autographs - they looked at me
as if I was an idiot. Then I saw Peter Jenner (their manager
and the guy who established Pink Floyd) talking with some
people, and I patiently waited till they were done and
asked if Robyn was coming up (everyone was asking him
about Billy - mostly university newspapers wanting
interviews - no one really wanting autographs -
maybe 20-30 people). And Peter (who was VERY nice
to me considering he didn't know me from shit) said that
he would see what he could do. He went away and the venue
security started hassling everyone who was standing there
but I said that Peter said to wait here etc. - so they left
us. Peter came back up and was saying to the press people
"come down and see Billy" - and then he saw me and said "You
wanted to meet Robyn? Well come downstairs with me and
meet him"!!! I was just trying to stand there and look
non plussed, but failed miserably!

So I followed this convoy of people down (Peter cleared
us all with security) and there was Billy (mobbed by 20
people or so) and Robyn off in the corner by himself!
And there was free drinks!! So I got a drink and by this
time Robyn had migrated to the bar and was talking with
3 women who turned out to be RH fans from England (living
in Toronto) from the SB days that RH had known forever
(as had Michelle). So I just stood in the shadows listening
the conversation and they started drawing me in - they
never said fuck off, or who are you etc. - just started
talking to me in part of the conversation - and that's
how I wound up speaking with Robyn for about 40 minutes!
We wound up talking about the show, the new songs,
the tour, and lots of other strange stuff (he kept calling
me Dirty Jim! So I said "can I call you Nigel then?" And he
said "Sure" (No joke...)) The one thing that I FORGOT to ask/tell him
about was Glass Flesh - oops!!! But I told him about how much I
love the new album etc. and he seemed touched (nobody was
really paying attention to him!). And I told him about
the list and was surprised to meet another one in the flesh
and was wondering whether I was psychotically dangerous ;-)
He's much more lucid in real life, but he's not totally
there either - it was interesting talking to him. And
I had forgotten how TALL he was! (He kept complaining
about how fat he was - I didn't think so...).

And the nice thing was that about 5 minutes after
we got down there and I was starting to talk to RH,
Peter Jenner came over to make sure I found Robyn
etc. - what a NICE guy (I am sure he can also be
a complete bastard to those that piss him off but...)

Michelle came over sometime in the coversation and
I met her too - man is she attractive! - no wonder
why she's with RH! I also met Deni and was really
impressed by her (she's tall too!)- we really hit it off
actually. Did anyone know that she played in the Mountain
Stage house band in the early 90's (how she met Robyn - she's
the strings on the Egyptian stage show) and backed everyone
including Richard Thompson? She said that she was SO
intimdated by him - the presence was that powerful. We
talked and talked and talked about everything - and she
was going get to me a copy of her band's stuff but her bag
was already carted on the truck (so she's sending one
when she returns). A very cool person indeed!

Then I wanted to snag Billy before he left (most
of the people had left by this time) and got lucky
once again. We started talking and I thanked him
for the show, and the great new album etc. - and
then I was talking about Jack, and he goes "do
you wanna see some pictures of Jack?" - so we
sat down on the couch and he pulls out this ROLLL
of pix of Jack from birth till today (almost 3)
and we were talking about Jack for 5 minutes(?!).
I think he seemed to like to talk about that
We also had an interesting conversation on
soccer But he too was very very nice to me -
he could have said "f**k off" but he didn't
and I really enjoyed talking with him.

All in all, it was a fabulous night - one
of the best ever for me - sometimes you know,
you just get lucky.....

Jeff L

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