Grant Lee Hitchcock Grant Lee Phillips and Robyn Hitchcock
Concert appearance: Sun., 22 Oct. 2000
The Middle East
Cambridge, Massachusetts US
Squint (Grant Lee Phillips)
Heavenly (Grant Lee Phillips)
I Feel Beautiful
Flavour of Night
Encore: I Used to Love You
Encore: Nietzche's Way
Encore: Sound & Vision (David Bowie)
Encore: When You're In Love With a Beautiful Woman (Dr. Hook)
Encore: Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas)
Encore: Ashes To Ashes (David Bowie)
Encore: I Am the Walrus (The Beatles)
Encore: All I Have To Do Is Dream (Everly Brothers)
an evening with robyn hitchcock
and grant lee phillips
sunday, october 22, 2000
sodagirl and i managed to see
robyn last night at the middle east.
not nearly as intimate as the ironhorse
last halloween, but far more energized
than i'd seen him previously.
i managed to jot down the set list
and a lot of the typical robyn non-sequitor
that's customary at the shows, which runs
as follows, as closely as i can remember it.
immediately upon popping out,
he threw out an enthusiastic
"nobody's frightened of the sun when it's dark!"
then, as grant was putting on a steel slide-guitar
finger piece for the first song;
"and god created...(long pause) insertion."
then runs into this whole steel finger
bit that i'm horribly paraphrasing, but
was something like:
"and god said to adam: i have fitted you
with this mighty steel finger so that you
may go forth and find a like female also
with similar steel finger"
upon that they broke out into "gene hackman",
one of the bonus tracks on jewels for sophia.
there was a new line in there as well,
going on the way-too-many-sylables-for-rhyme-scheme kick:
"i'll have a bottle of wine,
i'll have a pint of stout,
and if there ever was a fresh water fish
i've always had a soft spot for it'd have
to be the trout."
after the song, he pulls out some glowing plastic
pumpkin... i couldn't hear half the dialog since
everyone was cracking up so damn much, though it was
clear he had dubbed it "Waxy the cute boy"
"...and now more songs about trout."
then it went into some grant song i'm uncertain of,
since i know next to nothing about Phillips
at the end, grant was calling attention to
some rumbling in robyn's stomach, asking if
he had too much tubule.
with the big ominous voice again, he starts on about
"the tubule is rumbling this building!
what a man consumes surrounds him,
which is why it's called a consumer society"
throws on the harmonica and goes straight into
the highlight of this was on the "gettin' blow jobs from the press" line
he substitutes the next two lines with
"pretty blow jobs from the press,
the second of those lines being this huge guttural
orgasmic moan, pausing on the
whole song and causing much hooting and
hollering and ridiculousness.
next a grant lee song.
i believe it's called "seeking affirmations"
after that grant starts some B Fmin thing,
and robyn starts gabbing on, so they do some
improv song i can only think to call
"mr. Philhips and i"
the words, in as much as i could jot down, were:
"mr. Phillips and i
come from 2003
in 2003 it's gonna be slow
until it puts someone in the ?"
then it goes into "Heavenly Heavenly" (grant lee song)
then as they're putting on capos for
the next bit, he starts referring to it as
a tourniquet, cutting off circulation
to bottom two frets.
they go into a really good version of "i feel beautiful."
then there's some Bob dylan key of F gag
that got a bit drawn out so i didn't bother jotting it
down , then another grant lee song.
Straight into robyn hitting the piano, doing
"flavor of night"
at the end he triumphantly exclaims:
"thank you fellow carbon-based
life forms!...unless you all snuck
any silicon in.."
another grant lee song.
then right into "dark princess"
and the ending bit has robyn getting
all sappy and dorky about michelle
gushing something about how he was
looking for the dark princess but she
it started to sound like some junior
high goth kid, but whatever, he can
somehow pull stuff like that off.
another grant lee song
and then "antwoman"
a dang good version of antwoman.
i have to say i noticed a lot of people
that were only mouthing grant gee songs
starting to bob their heads over this one.
yet another grant lee song i don't know.
the encore was a few grant songs,
then robin comes back and does a great version
of "i used to love you."
then "nietzche's way"
they closed off that encore with
one of the more entertaining bits
i've seen him do:
starting off with "sound and vision" (bowie)
with robyn just dancing around doing all
these silly numbers and gesticulations,
doing some hillarious bowie vocal impersonations.
they wound up morphing this mid stream into
"when you're in love w/ a beautiful woman" (dr hook)
and changing the lyrics to:
"when you're in love with a beautiful woman,
you watch your ass"
"when you're in love with a beautiful woman,
you're made of glass"
then that morphed into
"kung fu fighting"
with some other made up lyrics:
"it's an ancient chinese art,
like the british playing darts"
and then some other bit about
sharp utensils and ripped spleens.
it rounded off with
ashes to ashes
and robyn doing all the weird
space bleeps with bizarre hand gestures.
i don't think i'd seen him this animated and
youthful looking in quite some time. they
both seemed pretty upbeat.
for the final encore (2? 3?)
it was two beatles songs.
first "i am the walrus"
which ended in hilarity as robyn describes
the whole song-making process:
"so then we had ringo go back and play the
whole loop again..." etcetera.
they finished off with
"dream dream dream"
robyn ends the night with a salute and
"good night happy christians!"
This is from the Boston Phoenix.
Hitchcock & Phillips: Joined at the Hip
If Robyn Hitchcock and Grant Lee Phillips had done nothing on stage but
make fun of David Bowie, that alone would have been enough to make their
collaborative tour worthwhile. As it was, they made fun of Bowie only
during their encore at the Middle East Sunday night, but it was priceless:
they began a medley with his "Sound & Vision," then segued into a bunch of
ridiculous '70s hits with the same chords -- "Kung Fu Fighting," "When
You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman," "Rock Your Baby"-- and sang them
all as the wasted, intense Bowie of the Low era would have. It was the kind
of joke that only performers with an abiding love for rock's back pages
could bring off.
Although they were Warner Bros. labelmates for years, the pair haven't
toured together before. Hitchcock said backstage that they were looking to
recapture the informal atmosphere of the late-night pop hootenannies at the
Los Angeles club Largo. In fact, their set was a good deal more polished.
The two songwriters alternated tunes through the set, but they always added
something -- whether a guitar part, a harmony, or just friendly support --
to each other's numbers. And the best moments came when their voices met in
Everly Brothers-style harmony -- a connection made explicit when they did
the Everlys oldie "All I Have To Do Is Dream."
The set wasn't quite the career retrospective one might have hoped for.
Phillips did include the radio hits "Fuzzy" and "Mighty Joe Moon," and
Hitchcock dug back to the early '80s for the haunting "Flavor of Night,"
but both drew largely from the Internet-only albums they've released since
leaving Warners. How well they get on was evident throughout the show.
Hitchcock even sang "Mr. Phillips and I, we're joined at the hip" in a song
made up on the spot.
Whether by design or not, they wound up choosing songs that complemented
each other: Hitchcock namechecked Gene Hackman in one song and Phillips did
the same for Clint Eastwood in another. The pair squared off on wide-eyed
love songs (Phillips's "Heavenly," Hitchcock's "I Feel Beautiful") and dark
and mysterious songs (Phillips's "St. Expedite," Hitchcock's "Dark
Princess"). "Honey don't think, you're liable to figure me out" is the kind
of chorus that you'd expect either might come up with, though Phillips was
the one who did.
Always a master of verbal riffing, Hitchcock was in prime form. Early in
the show he had a long dialogue with a wax Halloween pumpkin while Phillips
looked on in amazement. And it's a short jump from talking to pumpkins to
covering "I Am the Walrus," the last of the evening's borrowed tunes. The
Beatles song was done absolutely faithfully -- to the point where Hitchcock
recited the King Lear excerpt that plays over the Beatles' fadeout -- and
unlike the Bowie bit, it wasn't really played for laughs. Instead it was
evidence of an abstract pop tradition that both men are proudly carrying on.
-- Brett Milano
(And of course, Robyn always refers to Mr. Milano as "Mr. Boston" for good
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