Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

The Soft Boys with Young Fresh Fellows
Concert appearance: Thu., 5 Apr. 2001

Pine Street Theatre
Portland, Oregon US

Set list:

You'll Have to Go Sideways
Queen of Eyes
Tonight
Old Pervert
My Mind is Connectedů
Kingdom of Love
Underwater Moonlight
I Wanna Destroy You
Human Music
Leppo and the Jooves
Bells of Rhymney (Pete Seeger/Idris Davies)
Sudden Town
Insanely Jealous
Rock And/Or Roll Toilet
Only the Stones Remain
Mr. Kennedy
Sleeping with Your Devil Mask
The Lizard
The Face of Death

The problem with getting your hopes up too high about a show is that you're
always going to be disappointed. The show last night was not the
magnificent orgasmic experience I was expecting (and had been led to expect
by accounts on the list), but it was still pretty goddamned good. . .

Ahh, the Young Fresh Fellows. Such verve, such joie de vivre, such... ewww!
Some of Scott McCaughey's spit got in my face! Uh, anyway, their songs
were great but not as great as their, shall we say, stage presence. The
drummer is completely nuts - he has a cymbal and a wok mounted on a tall
springy thing which flips back and forth, nearly hitting him in the head at
times. Kurt Bloch IS a rock n' roll god. He's chubbier and more
double-chinned than the last time I saw him (about ten years ago), but still
has that funny squeaky voice. Scott was far more unhinged than at the staid
Minus 5 gig - he took a "nap" during one song (with a carefully-arranged
towel as a pillow) and staggered around insanely during a hilarious mock
"blues" song. It was at this point that I received the bounty of his saliva.
But I didn't mind too much.

And now, the Soft Boys. My first thought was, "Oh, fuck, Robyn's wearing
THOSE pants again." (You know the ones I mean.) My second thought was that
they looked really, really tired - except for Kimberley, who was as spry as
ever, and apparently ageless as well. Morris hasn't aged too well - he
looked to me like one of those jowly Middle-Eastern guys you see running
restaurants or convenience stores. He wore sunglasses for most of the set.
Matthew Seligman is way cute, in a mild, affable English sort of way, and
doesn't look like a lawyer (or whatever he is).

They took a while to get cranking - although I nearly levitated when they
launched into "Queen of Eyes" (the second song), it didn't feel very
energetic. But soon they kicked into gear and started rockin' more
vigorously. I noticed that the other three Soft Boys seemed to be having a
lot more fun than Robyn - I saw lots of smiles, and Kimberley's grimacing
was particularly enthusiastic (and, as always, completely inappropriate to
whatever he was playing). I think Robyn may have been sick, but he had the
stage presence of a rock that night. He got a little more enthused later
on.

There were a number of highlights to the show. "Leppo and the Jooves" was
fantastic - I never thought it would be easy to dance to, but it was.
"Underwater Moonlight" was great, though Robyn's monologue about fish and
donuts was nearly inaudible. (The sound wasn't too good in general - the
vocals were too low and I could hardly hear the bass at all.) I nearly
collapsed when they did "Insanely Jealous," and then... the encore... oh
man... "Only the Stones Remain"!! Fuck yeah!! Robyn made appropriate,
melodramatic hand-gestures during this one, and I danced my ass off.

As for the new stuff, I liked "Sudden Town," didn't like "Mr. Kennedy" so
much, and there must have been other new stuff as well - there was something
which sounded distinctly "Jewels for Sophia"-ish, and therefore not very
good. I know I'm forgetting some other great stuff... "I Wanna Destroy You"
was marred by the aforementioned bad sound - I couldn't hear the harmonies
properly, though I could in other songs. Morris and Kimberley sound great
together. My friend was marvelling at how good their voices sound.
Maybe they don't smoke...? Kimberley's guitar-playing was also especially
brilliant. His solos even got applauded several times. (Kurt Bloch
received similar treatment, and deservedly so.)

Towards the end of the show, Matthew broke his E string. (This is the
thickest string on the bass, for you non-musician people.) I have no idea
how he managed to do that. I don't even think he was playing with a
plectrum, so he must have massively strong fingers or something. The string
hung down comically while Matthew soldiered on with three strings, even
refusing help from a roadie. Mark Sandman, master of the two-string bass,
would have approved.

After the show, there was much aimless milling about by fegs while I went to
give Thoths to Matthew and Morris. "What is it?" Matthew asked curiously,
and I said, "Robyn knows what it is." Morris seemed confused. I wonder if
he was annoyed that I was paying more attention to that cute Matthew than
him...

More milling about ensued, and Matthew came out from the cordoned-off band
area, with a beer in hand, to talk to us. . . He's a really nice guy. . . Morris also
came out to talk to people, and various fegs were still deep in conversation
with him when I bid my farewells to all and sundry and headed back to my car.

I bought the "baby tee," and am wearing it now. It is incredibly hideous -
bright blue with bright orange print and trim. It is the ugliest article of
clothing I own. I think it's great. The only problem is that it tends to
hitch up under my chesticular region, obscuring the words "Underwater
Moonlight," so I have to pull it down a lot.

Natalie


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