Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock
Concert appearance: Fri., 21 Jan. 2000

Circolo Renfe
Ferrara, Italy

Set list:

Mexican God
The Cheese Alarm
Raining Twilight Coast
Madonna of the Wasps
I'm Only You
Beautiful Girl
Sleeping with Your Devil Mask
I Am Not Me
Autumn is Your Last Chance
Queen of Eyes
Sally Was a Legend
Kingdom of Love
I Feel Beautiful
My Wife and My Dead Wife
I Often Dream of Trains
Only the Stones Remain
Insanely Jealous

Greetings from a former list member now living in the Slovak Republic. I
saw Mr. Hitchcock perform the other night in Ferrara, Italia (neatly placed on the line
between Venice and Rome and a perfect addition to my brief Italian vacation), and I
thought I'd pass along my thoughts about the show. You can forward to the list if you please.

Robyn was in good humor, clearly enjoying himself, switching between
Italian, English, French, and German with (comic) ease. The club was very small: I'm
guessing about 50 people. He began the set with loads of energy, beginning with "Mexican
God,' but he and Igor were having technical troubles with the acoustic guitar (the IC or
something like that?) and, sadly, they were never able to get them straightened out. The result was that, sporadically, most of the guitar sound would cut out and he'd be left only with the
sound from the mike. To Robyn's credit, he just continued to play through the songs and didn't
look annoyed and didn't spend lots of time on trying to get it fixed. Unfortunately a very
beautiful version of "Lysander' was marred especially badly by the sound problems and Robyn wrapped up the acoustic portion of the show after only 7 or 8 songs.

Then he went to the electric, and I hate to criticize my hero but I think
the electric half of his shows has been getting consistently less and less interesting in recent
years (while at the same time, at least at the shows I've seen, getting longer and longer). I
think he has fun with the electric, but he always looks a bit tired while he's playing it and
his playing is not nearly as focussed and a lot of the songs (old Soft Boys tunes, etc.) that he
chooses to play just don't work very well without drums and bass. The only real exceptions to
this were "Insanely Jealous,' which was his closer and seemed to wake him up a bit (it was
great: for the middle section he slapped on the psychedelic freak-out solo pedal with his hand),
and "Unsettled,' which ended with a delightfully Dylanesque "How does it feel?!?' But, in
general, the electric half just felt sluggish. I saw him in Minneapolis last summer with the
Flaming Lips revue and it was the same thing: he seemed almost apologetic for the acoustic songs, like he was worried he was boring.

In truth, it's the other way around: his acoustic playing is so beautiful, so innovative, the way he reworks old songs in new arrangements, the beautiful scratchy folk singer songs that have been emerging in recent years. . . . I listened to a bit of the soundcheck from outside (it was quite easy to hear) and he played several new songs that were stunning: all off-balance and twisting yet so melodic: the sort of maturity in song-writing that only a very rare artist achieves. But the show itself featured no unreleased material, not even anything from A Star for Bram. And, as I think about it, only three songs from Jewels. It played a little like an introduction to Robyn: "Sleeping with Your Devil Mask' (which was great!), "My Wife and My Dead Wife,' "Beautiful Girl,' "Raining Twilight Coast,' and the usual "I'm Only You,' "Madonna of the Wasps,' etc., which maybe makes sense for a tour of a place where he's not especially well-known. It's a measure of how interesting a performer he is that I was disappointed only to hear his greatest hits and no new songs.

All in all it was a sub-par Robyn show, but even a sub-par Robyn show is a
great show, in my opinion. As I said, he was in good spirits, and I can't think of anyone
more engaging to watch when he's in a good mood.

James F

sounded to me like he rather phoned them in, alas. listless, in other
some highlights: My Favourite Buildings (natch), Freeze (both times),
Sleeping With Your Devil Mask (has he ever done it solo acoustic before?),
Unsettled. told the Lysander story in english, italian, and *french* one of
the times. can't remember which. --Tews

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