Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

The Soft Boys
Concert appearance: Thu., 31 Oct. 2002

Crocodile Café
Seattle, Washington US

Set list:

Kingdom Of Love
Queen Of Eyes
Unprotected Love
My Mind is Connected…
Disconnection Of The Ruling Class
Insanely Jealous
Hear My Brane
Man With The Lightbulb Head
Chinese Bones
Sudden Town
Mr. Kennedy
Underwater Moonlight
Encore: (I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp "Seven Winged Bat" version
Encore: Rock 'n' Roll Toilet
Encore: Sleeping With Your Devil Mask
Encore: I Wanna Destroy You
Encore: Stuck Inside of Mobile With Memphis Blues Again (Bob Dylan)
Encore: Chapter 24 (Pink Floyd)
Encore: Om

so i showed up right during soundcheck, with not a feg in sight (save bradley, but i didn't learn 'til later that he is a feg). in time, jet-setter jim davies showed up with jeme and vivien in tow. simone arrived shortly after, while the chairperson of the seattle feg council, cynthia, sauntered in fashionably later.

jim and i chatted with matthew and then morris for a while, about the last days of the egyptians, as well as other things. he says there's a new Gliders rekkid on the horizon. interesting tidbit: roger jackson owns a huge house, and throws a massive garden party every year, at which morris and andy (and i think matthew) played this year... the opening act, the chris and tad show, were chris ballew from the Presidents, and tad from the Fellows. they came out in NASA space-outfits, and performed a well-choreographed lighting of the candles on chris' keyboard, using these weird pincer devices -- as the Chariots Of Fire theme played. they then performed songs and told stories about life in space -- very funny yet very rocking (but different in that chris was now playing guitar rather than the keyboard). mid-show, they stripped off their space outfits to reveal matching cowboy duds, and the rest of the show was songs and stories about life as a cowboy. again, very funny yet very rocking. later, some fegs opined that there had been too many space-life songs, and some that there had been too few.

during the closing number, chris left the stage and let tad take a drum solo. tad didn't have the swinging cymbal we all fell in love with last tour, but he did have a small snare that he spun 'round throughout the show, and even disengaged and dropped at one point. during the solo, chris worked his way through the crowd, and then climbed back onto the stage, whereon tad left to let chris perform the blowout finale, in which he came perilously close to setting his cowboy hat afire with the aforementioned candles.

incredibly enjoyable set.

the soft boys finally came out, later than scheduled (to the dismay of cynthia and myself, as it put us in danger of missing the last boat to the island). robyn was wearing a tall witch-hat, embroidered with many silver crabs -- very cool! he took it off after about three songs, and seated it atop an onstage jack-o-lantern, where it rested for the duration of the evening's "entertainments". matthew put on crazy helmet for one song -- evoked something out of an "insects invade the mother earth" movie (to me, anyways). matthew and the sound-tech dude chose their favourite audience "ghoul" about midway through the show, and she was awarded a prize.

at one point during the show, i felt a hand brush my ass (inadvertently or not, i may never know). praying that it might be soupy sales, i turned around to instead find jim sangster. we chatted a bit between songs, and he tried to get matthew's attention (we were standing right in front of him), but matthew seemed not to recognise him. between songs, sangster kept telling anybody who would listen that matthew is his favourite bassist. he disappeared after a bit, and between the main set and the encore, as i was explaining to miriam who the celebrity no-longer-in-our-midst had been, kurt bloch strode up wearing an angel-of-death type costume (or perhaps a middle ages knight?), and grasping a massive halberd (made of cardboard, tin foil, and a broom handle, i guess). as the encore began, i borrowed the weapon, and started making chopping motions at the stage. matthew seemed kinda frightened at first, but i don't think any of the other bandmembers noticed. kurt told me not to kill everybody just yet, so i gave his blade back to him.

after the show, cynthia and myself made a too-quick getaway, and strode briskly yet calmly to the ferry terminal, arriving with about ten minutes to spare.

as for the band's performance. i've seen robyn live 45 times or so, and heard a couple hundred more shows on tape, and last night's show is on the very, very short list of the finest of them all. morris had warned us beforehand that the band is much better now than last year. but i hadn't, in my wildest dreams, expected *this*. to be honest, i don't own and haven't heard NEXTDOORLAND yet, and i really didn't think the band was going to be all that hot this time. i even briefly considered skipping the show altogether -- VERY glad i didn't.

the kind of funny thing is, though, that it really wasn't a perfect set. they played Chinese Bones specially for halloween, and, having only practised it during the soundcheck, it really didn't work very well. i thought that Devil Mask sounded much better during the KEXP session. Kingdom Of Love and Queen Of Eyes, while good, seemed more obligatory than spirited. Stuck Inside Of Mobile is too long to cover, and Chapter 24 doesn't work, in my opinion, as an all-out rocker. (for covers, i'd rather have heard something like Head Held High or, say, a shortened version of Sister Ray (i actually did yell out for Black Angel's Death Song, 'cause of halloween, but that'd work too); and maybe something like Yer Blues.) the guitar duel in Mr. Kennedy, which was really the climax of the last tour's set, now seems superfluous in the context of the band's general pyrotechnics (though i still like the song).

but, my god, when they hit their stride -- Insanely Jealous, Hear My Brane, Lightbulb Head, Strings, Om, Anglepoise Lamp, Sudden Town, I Wanna Destroy You -- they were just mind-bendingly good. unbelievably good. impossibly good. holy motherf**kingly good. the absolute highlight of the set, for me, was Underwater Moonlight. you know, they played the first fews bars or whatever to kind of get ready. or whatever the reason is -- but the point is that it was clear that Underwater Moonlight was coming. robyn and kimberley engaged in conversation for a while, with robyn seeming to explain what he wanted to do, and kimberley not seeming to quite get it, and gesturing and so forth. the mid-song monologue was to do with a sea voyage gone horribly hopelessly wrong, and during this kimberley was just shredding his guitar to pieces, delivering, basically the screams of the dying. meanwhile, the band were so loud and ferocious that robyn had to scream the conclusion at the top of his lungs, and could still barely be heard. when it was all said-and-done, there was nothing you could say, but, "holy motherf**k, did i just witness what i think i just witnessed?"

by the way, there were no "jam session" shenanigans. just the four soft boys, rocking like a magicus.

hear me now, san francisco and l.a. fegs not yet decided upon whether to attend: DO NOT MISS THIS TOUR.

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