Robyn Hitchcock's ROCK ARMADA
Concert appearance: Tue., 26 Oct. 1999
Carrboro, North Carolina US
Shuffling Over the Flagstones
Queen Elvis enter Tim (dueling harmonicas!)
Viva! Sea-Tac enter Jake
Jewels for Sophia enter Lindsay and Kimberley
The Cheese Alarm
Madonna of the Wasps
Queen of Eyes
Antwoman (Chris on weird oboe thing)
Birds in Perspex
Autumn is Your Last Chance (encore)
I Often Dream of Trains enter Kimberley
City of Shame
Adoration of the City enter Tim, Jake, and Lindsay
Sally Was a Legend
(continued from "Atlanta '99")
Eddie and I woke up around 8:30am or so, grabbed some bad "continental"
breakfast at the hotel lounge, then hit the road, quickly getting split up
once we dumped onto I-85. It's about a 4 hour drive up to Charlotte, home
of the illustrious Dede Davis.
The second rest stop after you cross into South Carolina on I-85 is heaven.
It's on a small wooded hill that slopes down to this quiet restful lake.
I pulled off and sat for about an hour strumming my guitar and just not
thinking about anything. Real bliss.
Anyway, I met back up with Eddie at Dede's place. Dede's a very nice gal
with great taste in music and a real Connells groupie! She took us down to
a little veggie eatery/club called Fat City and I had a tremendously
scruptious bowl of black eyed pea salad! Eddie stuck to the falafel. We
strolled through a nearby art room and just hung about until early evening.
We made the 2 hour plus drive up to Carrboro/Chapel Hill, arriving around
9:15 or so. The show was running late; we found out later that Olivia
Tremor Control had called to say they were running really late, so the
schedule became Tim first, then Robyn, then OTC. Robyn actually didn't
finish up until after 1am, with OTC taking the stage at 2am.
Anyway, the Cat's Cradle was a nice little dive of a club. Eddie and I
snagged some Robyn flyers and JfS flats. I bumped into Scott Spillane and
got his autograph on my NMH disc.
Robyn again introduced Tim Keegan and Depart Lounge, who put on another
stellar performance. I repeat...don't miss these guys. Basically the same
set as the night before in Atlanta.
Robyn strolled out for his turn, wearing the same green/purple flower pants
and black shirt. He did a lot more sitting down at this show, except for a
6 or 7 song electric stint. About halfway through the show, his pickup in
his acoustic guitar gave out on him and he had to make do with the electric
blue Fender the rest of the night. My personal opinion is that they were
much tighter as a band this night as opposed to Atlanta. I assume they'll
just keep getting better and better!
As everyone has been saying, Kimberley is a real treat to watch. Spazzy
mouth movements, rocking head and gray hear...very much more animated than
Robyn, whose more stoic (except for the blinking and flipping of hair).
One item of note: someone was videoing the Atlanta show, and Robyn's only
comment was that it would be more interesting if they got different angles,
maybe passing the camera through the crowd. However, at Carrboro, Robyn
was visibly annoyed at one person taking a few snapshots from the front of
the stage and asked them to put the camera away. Guess it depends on the
night how he'll be with that...
Also: Eddie got snagged by Robyn's tour manager and Cat's Cradle "security"
while taping the Departure Lounge set. After some talk and Robyn's tour
manager going back to check with Robyn, Eddie was given the A-OK to tape.
After these first few stumbling gigs, taping should be easier for everyone
with no hassles. I later spoke with the tour manager, who is really
nice...gave me his card. I bought one of the puke-green shirts (which is
somewhat hideous once I put it on...hopefully Eddie will snag me a more
normal purple one soon) and a Tim Keegan CD. Tim, Jake and Lindsay were
hanging out by the door so I went up and got their autographs and we talked
at length about the tour, the movie (Tim was very happy that I'd seen it
and said he was really happy with it and that it would probably become a
cult thing). Eddie strolled up and Tim and the gang found out he'd be
stalking them for the rest of the tour. A great group of guys, very laid
back and accessible...if anyone has the urge to go up and say hello, do it.
I happen to really like the CD and have played it to death over the last
few days. Kinda mellow and simple and warm. Buy it!
Sorry for the tardy report on the Carrboro show. I wanted to take my
time with it, but here it is.
We (Matt and Rachael) showed up about an hour after the doors opened hoping
to see at least some of the Olivia Tremor Control. As it turned out, the
doors were not open and someone said something about the band still being in
Charlotte (at least 2 hrs away). But I guess they had left Charlotte soon
enough, and the doors opened about 1.5 hours late. It caused the schedule
to change, such that Tim Keegan and RH opened for Olivia Tremor Control.
Unfortunately, when Robyn did finally leave the stage about 10 to 1, most of
the crowd including myself left too. I have one of their CDs (Dust from
Cubist Castle or something like that). They play nice psychy-pop stuff and
can also play long drony/ambient music as well.
Cat's Cradle is a typical concert bar hall. Lacks the sort of intimacy
which I've grown accustomed to seeing Robyn solo the last many times. We
opted to sit on a raised platform towards the back, rather than stand in
front. It sounded nice, despite the obviously quick sound check necessary
to start the show in the first place.
We really enjoyed the mellowness of the Departure Lounge. Had never heard
them before, and I may be inclined to pick up their CD sometime. Robyn
wandered around the Cat's Cradle for a little during their set, wearing
bright green scrubs, like he just came from surgery, (or had some himself?).
Interestingly, when he did appear on the stage for himself, the green pants
had grown purple flowers all over them. He was looking quite a bit more
gray than the last time we saw him, geez, about 2 years ago in Rochester,
NY. However, the energy level was higher, as someone mentioned from the
Austin report last week. Wish I could say the same.
He started alone with Mexican God (sitting- still had sore back). It was
great. Played another song or two alone before Tim Keegan joined him. For
the encore, he again started solo and then Kimberley Rew joined him.
Kimberly was by far the highlight of the whole show for me besides just
seeing Robin with other musicians, which I haven't seen in a while. I had
never seen Kimberley Rew before. Although I saw a few Egyptians shows 10
years ago, I realize now what Kimberley really brought to the soft boys. He
was so entertaining, shaking that Gibson until every note dripped on the
floor. He seemed to try and get more emotion out of the other guys playing,
who although they played very nicely, didn't respond too much.
The musical highlight had to be the version of I Often Dream of Trains with
Robyn and Kimberley. Robyn played the song perfectly, while Kimberley played
on top of it with pseudorhythm / distortion and it seemed like whatever just
oozed from his fingers. Boy I wish I had seen the Soft Boys! (Eventually
Robyn did stand when the rest of the boys joined him on stage, and his torso
did not dismantle, as he warned those in front).
Let's see, what else did they play. Lots from the new album, Antwoman was
my favorite. Jewels was nice, but I still couldn't get into Viva Seatac,
its just not Hitchcock enough for me. Oh well. They did a great version of
Oceanside in the encore, never liked that song as much as I did watching it.
They also played Queen of Eyes, which was great to watch Kimberley jam on.
I thought it lacked the psych-punkness and energy as a result of 20 years
aging. Oh, and Queen Elvis was another great one (w/ Keegan) - those two
played very nice stuff together. Other songs include : Madonna of the
Wasps, Sally was a Legend, the guitar-solo-interlude-thing from Eye (Ghost
Ship?-sorry), Birds in Perspex, Beautiful Girl (solo), Beautiful Queen too,
and a couple others from the new album which I don't know well enough yet.
The Cheese Song was one.
I read the report from Austin and Baltimore (before and after the Carboro
gig) and am sad we missed Insanely Jealous. I sang that song to my
girlfriend in college. 3 years later she married me. Also on the personal
front, my wife Rachael who is 3.5 months pregnant, was quite proud of the
fact when she realized the last time we saw Robyn, she was pregnant with our
first child! In-utero exposure - gotta love it. At least now we can say we
haven't (yet) played favorites for the first-born. (Although I can't
remember the order of everything he's heard since)
Sorry for the long message. It's my first, and unless I see RH soon again,
probably my will be my longest. It was awesome to see Robyn rockin again.
Matt and Rachael
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