Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock and Kimberley Rew
Concert appearance: Thu., 17 July 1997

Boat Race
Cambridge, England UK

Set list:

Gene Hackman
Serpent at the Gates of Wisdom
Clean Steve
I'm Only You
My Wife and My Dead Wife
Beautiful Girl
I Am Not Me
You and Oblivion
Queen of Eyes w/Kimberley
Kingdom of Love w/Kimberley
Insanely Jealous w/Kimberley
I Often Dream of Trains w/Kimberley
Waterloo Sunset (Kinks) w/Kimberley
Beautiful Queen w/Kimberley
Queen Elvis

Length: 90

We left a gloriously sunny Oxford afternoon to arrive in a gloriously damp
and dismal Cambridge evening about three hours later. After having too
much to eat at Footlights, we trundled along to the Boat Race.

As more people poured into the tiny venue, the atmosphere became
increasingly charged with excitement. Great things were going to happen.
This was confirmed by a certain Kimberley Rew mingling with members of the
audience. We waited...

Suddenly a towering man took the stage, told us a story about war planes
flying over a landscape populated by giant chess knights with beams
emerging from their eyes that when broken cause a toilet to flush in
Wisbech (pronounced wiz-beach). And then he sang us a song requesting
that we do not ask him about Gene Hackman. And from then on the audience
was his...

The set list:
Don't Talk To Me About Gene Hackman
Serpent At The Gates Of Wisdom
(for this and the next song, Robyn plays a harmonica which conjures up
the sound of Bob Dylan at his very best)
Clean Steve
("I said the man next door's best friend is making videos with Clean
Steve. He said, 'You mean to say that Clean Steve is an optical recording
device?'" - or something like that. And another mention of Wisbech)
I'm Only You
Beautiful Girl
I Am Not Me
You And Oblivion
(now so far Robyn has really been blinking. A lot. And I don't know if
it has any significance, but he stopped for the 'right when the death
train got your ma' verse. And then started blinking again for the last

(Now joined by Kimberley)
Queen Of Eyes
Kingdom Of Love
Insanely Jealous

1st encore:
I Often Dream Of Trains
Waterloo Sunset
(Robyn's getting a lot of requests now, including 'Put a sausage on the
griddle', to which he replies in a low voice, 'I already have, man', and
gives us a monologue about sausages and fumes [pronounced fooms] involving
American and Latin American accents)
Beautiful Queen

2nd encore:
(solo - "Kimberley's building a tram")
Queen Elvis

And how did Robyn sound? Excellent. Completely on form; faultless
guitar, singing and harmonica; and some stories and not-so-subtle lyric
changes to keep us amused. And Kimberley did a great job, especially with
the backing vocals; and the two of them looked really happy to be playing
together. All in all, one of the best gigs I've been lucky enough to see.

Hi to those fegs that I didn't meet last night - if any of you are
going to the 12 Bar next Wednesday, we should arrange somewhere to meet
before hand. Did anyone record the gig? I nearly bought a dictaphone
yesterday, but I thought the sound wouldn't be up to much - I'm kicking
myself now! I noticed someone with a camcorder at the front of the
audience - if that was you, please get in touch!

Wisbech on ya,


Robyn took to the stage wearing a coloured shirt with a small 'hands' print on
it, picked up an acoustic (dunno what kind - I' m not a muso).
He began with an initial story about the Baby Jesus pick, then moved on to the
Virgin Mary pick (Robyn's preference).
Opened with Gene Hackman - excellent, first time I'd heard this live.
Followed up with a song I wasn't familiar with - ended in something about a
parasol ?
Then came Serpent At The Gates Of Wisdom, after donning mouth organ gizmo.
Nice rendition of Queen Of Eyes, and I'm sure another one that I just can't
recall right now.
Closed the acoustic portion of the set with an OK You & Oblivion, and left the

On his return he was wearing the white shirt with black polkadots, and picked
up the blue electric.
Began with a storming I Am Not Me (although I must admit a bias here, that's
one of my faves).
Then came (although not necessarily in this order), My Wife And My Dead Wife, a
rocking Clean Steve (great to hear this again), I'm Only You, and a jangly
rendition of Beautiful Girl.
Exit again.

Back on (same shirt/guitar), asks if Kimberley Rew is here, and Kimberley
climbs on stage to a fair amount of applause (sorry, can't remember his shirt,
but I don't think it means as much!)

They kick off their set with a great Kingdom Of Love, then an awesome Insanely
Jealous (my fave SB song).

We then got an understated IODOT, followed by an amusing wacky improv intro
about sleeping in a hotel room with a towel over your face to avoid the fumes
(pronounced FOOOMS, in a deep and exaggerated manner), which drifted into
almost total gibberish in various odd accents.
Kimberley was just standing there, giving Robyn a wonderful bemused look that
said to all "what the hell is he talking about" !
This led into a superb Waterloo Sunset, which was the highlight of the gig for
Then into Beautiful Queen - played somewhat differently here, considerably
extended, with a lot of 70's style prog rock guitar noodling.
Not to my own taste (I prefer BQ simple), but went down well.
Exit again.

Final encore - Queen Elvis, solo, and wonderful.

About 90 minutes in all.

Robyn was obviously relaxed, and seemed to really enjoy playing alongside

At the end, Kimberley packed up his own guitar, and carried it out himself -
it's good to see success and money hasn't changed him.
I got the feeling he was happy to be playing there in his hometown with his old
bandmate, just for fun.
Saw him again outside in the car park, loading up his gear, and driving off.

Robyn apparently wasn't in the mood to chat/sign, but then a few folks had
stuff taken up to his dressing room to be signed.
We hung around a bit longer, and he came down (there were only about 20 people
left by then).
He signed a few more bits, and seemed happy to chat to the faithful few.
He reckons the Storefront film might make it to cinemas in the UK, but will
probably come out on video towards the end of the year, and then turn up on
Channel 4 (our kind of minority and arts channel).
He also said that he is trying not to play any of the stuff which will be in
the film, so it doesn't get boring for the fans.
He mentioned that they are trying to get Gene Hackman to appear in the video !
While getting a ticket-stub signed (didn't come prepared), I asked him if there
were any plans to release Waterloo Sunset - He smiled at me, and said SOMEONE
already had !
He mentioned that he had been playing that song 25 years ago in his first band,
and it was only a couple of years back that he finally got it right !
He mentioned another Cambridge gig (some outdoor event, apparently in the car
park of The Junction, on August 23rd - I'll post more details when I get them),
and another fan asked him if it would be worth going to, and would it be any
good :)

At the very end, when the venue staff were trying to clear everyone out, I
asked Robyn if he would mind if I took a photo of him (I had refrained from
doing so during the gig, as it would have been too intrusive).
He said "sorry, no, I don't come out well in photos - I always have a fuck off
and die look on my face". With that he smiled again, and then was gone.

My pal Scruff managed to snag the setlist, but I don't have it to hand right
now. It did however include a few different songs, including Heliotrope.
Also, the Kinks song had an alternative, Tired Of Waiting.
This same pal also sneaked up on the stage and pinched the towel Robyn had
wiped his face with !
Another fan picked up the glass of water RH had been drinking from, and was
'anointing' various fans. Wonder if he a fully fledged cult member ?!

I went to the 12 Bar gig on Wednesday - I'll write up a review when I've
got a spare moment, but in the meantime here's some first impressions.
Firstly, I can't decide if the venue itself was a really cool place (not
literally - as anyone who's been there knows, it's got a capacity of about
60, yet they managed to get about 300 people in!) or just cramped and a
silly choice of building. It's got two floors, low ceilings, and a two
feet high stage... so those of us on the ground floor had a view of Robyn
neck down (unless you were lucky enough to be seated at the front),
while those upstairs must have only had a view of Robyn's head. The
poster outside the club described it as "intimate (which means the artists
have to perform with their heads poking through a hole in the first
floor)"... how we chuckled at that little 'pun'. Secondly, Tim Keegan was
very good... I was very impressed. Thirdly, Andy was very good (first
time I've seen him!). Robyn, although good, wasn't up to the same level
he was at the Boat Race. Less banter (although it was very entertaining),
and less improvisation. But then if I was playing in a venue the size of
my kitchen and the atmosphere of a sauna, I probably wouldn't be enjoying
it that much either. And the Boat Race gig was fantastic... I reckon it
must be one of his best. We did, however, get a few new songs (or songs
I've never heard before anyway)... Jewels For Sophia really stood out for
me, with Elizabeth Jade coming in a close second.

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