Robyn Hitchcock with Kimberley Rew and Departure Lounge
Concert appearance: Sat., 5 Aug. 2000
Lea Valley Riverboat
Lea Valley, England UK
special outing for fans and band
I Saw Nick Drake
Sleeping with Your Devil Mask
Madonna of the Wasps
Queen of Eyes
Adoration of the City
No, I Don't Remember Guildford
Jewels for Sophia
Old Brown Shoe (George Harrison)
Take This in Remembrance
Absolutely wonderful. Well-organised. A lot of work by Robyn and
co. - climbing over locks, running alongside playing (not so easy with
a double bass: run, put it down, play, run, put it down, play). Some
of the best fades I've ever heard. Beautiful moment with butterfly.
The second boat had more songs on the way down, so the first boat got
the lock treatment on the way back. We were satiated. The cream teas
were great, but we couldn't eat them all. The blazing sunshine picnic
left us full to the brim.
Neat picnic. Tony Blackman. Amazing. Only word for him. We open
some chilled champagne, thinking a little over the top. He hands us
suitable glasses. And drops in strawberries. Many other wonderful
people. A grand day out.
Favourite songs: Ride, on the towpath, many did - Robyn dodging
bicycles. Chinese Bones with fingers. Bass, in your face.
Guitarists dancing about. Low volume. Made it rather magical,
Lots of people really grateful. Robyn apologised about cost, but seen
by everyone as a complete bargain. Cheaper than flying to San
Francisco (but you don't get to meet Viv and Jeme). About the same
price as an ordinary London gig, with booking fee.
For those of you who weren't there, I could recommend a trip down the
Lea Valley. So pretty. So calm. But you'd be asking: where are the
musicians at the locks? where are the people stretched out on the
grass? where is the sunshine?
They're gone. Yeah, only the scones remain.
There were two boats lined up at the quayside, holding 60 and 40 Fegs
respectively. I opted for the larger boat along with a crowd of familiar
faces. No sign of
Robyn, who was said to be travelling in a separate boat. However,
Kimberley was soon spotted, carrying (oddly) an electric guitar case. All
signs at the quayside mention the "River Lee (sic) Boat Trips". "Aha!" I
thought "I'm wrong about it being the River Lea". (Subsequent checks in
the AA Road Book revealed that it was spelt "R. Lea". Anyone got an OS
With some difficulty, we backed out of the quayside inlet into the main river
- very sluggish, sprawling sort of waterway, much frequented by coots,
moorhens, geese, swans, ducks, waterlilies etc. No kingfishers to be seen,
unfortunately, nor (less surprisingly) any Sarus cranes. Matt had spotted a
green woodpecker earlier in the day. Quite nice but slightly scrubby scenery,
with an extensive crop of powerlines - really great country for powerline
About this time the sun came out, and beat down fairly relentlessly for the
next six or seven hours. As we approached the first lock of the journey, Robyn
and Kimberley were spotted on the towpath, bearing guitars. They established
themselves on a bridge across the lock and launched in to "The Philosopher's
Stoned", Robyn playing acoustic and Kimberley playing an electric guitar
through a mini-amp, which was inaudible for much of the time (I hope I got
some 35mm pix of the various performances). I assume that R and K played
a different song for the other boat.
We progressed through two more locks without incident, and arrived at Waltham
sometime after 2pm. Robyn's boat pulled in behind us, with RH and TK sitting
crosslegged, KR standing on the roof and JK accommodating his bass in
a doorway. They were playing something unrecognisable with plenty of
harmonies. Again, I hope I will have some pix. We found a field to picnic in,
and I was lavishly fed and wined by Tony and friends. Matt pointed out Stewart
to me and I introduced myself. Stewart's family had gone off in quest of
provisions and eventually returned with burgers and stories of a ruined abbey
about a mile away. I didn't investigate, being too busy eating Tony's cherries
Mark Ellen was bouncing about in an extremely lively fashion taking photos
and having a good time. No sign of any other ex-Ugly Rumours, though - I
expect TB was too busy hiding his inebriated offspring from the press
(joke). No sign of Andy Kershaw either (BTW, what is the latest news of AK
following his iniquitous dismissal by the hiphop-crazed executives of
At about 3.30 the band set up in the field and played approximately ten
songs. My list includes Queen Elvis, Sleeping with your devil mask, Queen
of Eyes, No I don't remember Guildford, Madonna of the Wasps, Adoration of
the City, Elizabeth Jade, Jewels for Sophia, Old Brown Shoe (Harrisongs)
and Beautiful Queen - not necessarily in that order. I may have missed
something. KR continued to play through his mini-amp, and RH alternated
between an acoustic and a blue electric played through a mini-amp. Tim
took over the electric on some songs. I would not describe the mini-amps
as a colossal success - they kept falling over, and even when they
remained in place, they were not always audible. I wished I had brought
two or three extra rolls of film in order to compile a
lavishly-illustrated book called "The Many Faces and Moods of Kimberley
Rew". At the end of "Guildford", Robyn leaped up to catch a passing
butterfly, but it fluttered easily out of his reach. Your photographer
completely missed this poignant moment...
The boat was slow in starting - apparently there was some engine trouble.
Robyn nipped on board and performed solo versions of 'Bass' and 'Chinese
Bones' before we left. Robyn then returned to the towpath and the group
played 'Ride' and another unidentified number.
Cream teas were served on the way back (the cream was distinctly iffy) and
when we got as far as the final lock, we were not surprised to see the
band again at the riverside, playing "When I was dead", "One after 909"
(Lennon-McCartney) and finally "Birds in Perspex" as we chugged out of the
lock. The group tried to keep up with us for some yards, but it was
obviously a bit of a strain for Jake with his double bass, so we waved
goodbye and returned, tired but happy, to Broxbourne station by about 7pm
- Mike G
PS Robyn was messing about with the words of several songs; the only one I
noted was "Don't go messing with a girl called Lee - she'll leave you
hanging in eternity".
Our first encounter with Robyn was when his
boat came alongside ours.H stood at the
front of his boat and played "Serpent at the
Gates of Wisdom", although as his boat was
slightly faster he played the last half verse
about 10 yards ahead of us.
Lock 1: Full band on lock. Alright Yeah and
Lock 2: Full band on lock. Heaven
Lock 3: Solo on top of boat. I Saw Nick Drake.
He played another song as his boat entered the
lock but was too far away.
>Mark Ellen was bouncing about in an extremely lively fashion taking photos
>and having a good time. No sign of any other ?>ex-Ugly Rumours
So it _was_ Mark Ellen, I was chatting to him
when he took mine and Sarah's picture. I
challenged him on his familiarity but he just
claimed to be a roadie -- I was confused...
What is he up to these days? I haven seen him
>Robyn leaped up to catch a ?
>butterfly, but it fluttered easily out of his reach. Your photographer
>completely missed this poignant moment...
Did you also miss the moment when TK smiled?
>The boat was slow in starting - apparently there was some engine trouble.
>Robyn nipped on board and performed solo versions of 'Bass' and 'Chinese
>Bones' before we left. Robyn then returned to the towpath and the group
>played 'Ride' and another unidentified number.
Damn, I'd have liked to have heard Bones.
>Cream teas were served on the way back (the cream was distinctly iffy)
Ours were fine :)
>when we got as far as the final lock, we were not surprised to see the
>band again at the riverside, playing "When I was dead", "One after 909"
>(Lennon-McCartney) and finally "Birds in Perspex" as we chugged out of the
It took us bloody hours to get back. Got stuck
in mud, spent eons in each lock etc. We didn't
see the band at all on the return journey.
Robyn was still hanging around when we got back,
at least long enough to give us a wave before
he headed off and we disembarked.
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