Robyn Hitchcock with Andy Metcalfe, Jon Brion, Ethan James
Concert appearance: Fri., 14 Nov. 1997
West Hollywood, California US
Fair Play (Van Morrison)
Vegetation & Dimes
Rain (The Beatles)
Cold Turkey (John Lennon)
Indeed, Robyn Hitchcock did make an appearance for about a 45 minute set
last night at the Largo. Hope I didn't scare anyone away with my frantic
The scene: a rather nice smallish restaurant/bar in West Hollywood.
Those in attendance seemed split into two camps: those who adore Jon
Brion and knew little about this Robyn guy... and the other way around.
First up was Jon. He played bizarre medleys of tunes on his guitar,
switching to various other instruments here and there (piano,
synthesizer, other guitars, and some things I'm at a loss to identify).
After a while a band came out and he did about three songs with the full
All the Robyn fans I talked to there just didn't "get" Jon Brion, in much
the same way that people just don't "get" Robyn. But there were some
really hard-core Brion fans in attendance, so there must be something
Anyway... out came Robyn, in green trousers and purple button-up shirt.
The set, (from memory, so there may be a few mistakes)
Vegetation and Dimes ("this is a very LA song")
The thing about this is that these four had never rehearsed together.
Jon and Ethan did not know the songs. And the whole time we all (and I
think Robyn himself) were cringing in fear of what Jon would do next.
Every tune after they came on was prefaced by Robyn telling Jon what key
it was in, and Andy doing some coaching of Ethan. Likewise, at the end
of each song, Andy was in the back doing something elaborate to let Ethan
know to stop, and Robyn would try somehow to grab Jon's attention.
So what do they play? Of course, the RH song with the most abrupt ending
of them all: "Bass." And sure enough, the piano didn't stop when
everything else did.
In all fairness, Jon did do a creditable job, and all of us there
concluded that if the quartet had a chance to practice, they could put on
a kickin' show. As it was, Chinese Bones and Lysander had a vaguely
different feel from what we're accusomed to, and there were a few
slip-ups... but all in all it worked. These concerns probably are what
caused them to switch to covers after a while. Cold Turkey utterly
rocked, and featured the best guitar work I've seen Robyn do.
Jon, in introducing Robyn, said that he was in LA putting the finishing
touches on his film. Other rumors heard last night were that Robyn and
Andy were in the studio yesterday recording songs for the next album, and
that Jon will produce a half dozen songs on Robyn's next album.
Tonight should be all Robyn; stay tuned.
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