Robyn Hitchcock & Heavy Friends
Concert appearance: Sun., 8 Aug. 2004
Clerkenwell, England UK
benefit show: performing the entire Beatles White Album
Back in the U.S.S.R. (The Beatles)
Dear Prudence (The Beatles)
Glass Onion (The Beatles)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles)
Wild Honey Pie (The Beatles)
Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (The Beatles)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles) and Robyn's guitar gently died..
Happiness Is a Warm Gun (The Beatles)
Martha My Dear (The Beatles) Ed Harcourt, vocals
I'm So Tired (The Beatles)
Blackbird (The Beatles) Kimberley Rew, vocals
Piggies (The Beatles)
Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)
Don't Pass Me By (The Beatles) Morris, vocals; Callina, violin
Why Don't We Do It in the Road? (The Beatles) Adam Buxton, rapper
I Will (The Beatles) Romeo Stoddart, vocals
Julia (The Beatles) Romeo Stoddart, vocals
Birthday (The Beatles)
Yer Blues (The Beatles)
Mother Nature's Son (The Beatles)
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except (The Beatles)
Sexy Sadie (The Beatles)
Helter Skelter (The Beatles)
Long, Long, Long (The Beatles)
Revolution 1 (The Beatles)
Honey Pie (The Beatles) Ed Harcourt, vocals
Savoy Truffle (The Beatles)
Cry Baby Cry (The Beatles)
Revolution 9 (The Beatles)
Good Night (The Beatles)
There was a whole lot of 'smelling' going on on
sunday night.Jesus it was FECKING hot! Being in a
residential area, they had windows and doors closed
and it was close to the hotest weekend of the year
so far.I was reduced to rubbing ice cubes all over
me head to try and call down.Even copius pints of
'Wife beater' couldn't cool me down. Great evening
though, despite the heat. Robyns guitar gave out
halfway through 'side 2' so he had to wing it a bit.
He didn't look at all comfortable without a guitar to
hide behind. They had a break after side 2, or an
'oxygen break' as Robyn described it. The heat reminded
me of the good old days of 1977 down the front of a
Generation X gig at the Marquee or something. HOT!!!
Can't say I noticed anyone recording it though....
You may remember me as a lost soul who was looking for
a ticket to Robyn's White Album gig a few weeks ago.
Well, I've just returned to NY from London and I'm
happy to report that I GOT IN, BABY--and I had the
time of my life! I showed up at the 3 Kings Pub early
on Sunday, Aug. 8, where I met another fan, Ian, from
north London. Neither of us had a ticket, but stuck
it out until the landlord of the pub produced a couple
of spares for us and a nice American couple who came
all the way from California without tickets.
I know that "ashratemple" already described the
"pungent" atmosphere that night, but I've got lots
more details for those interested in such things.
First of all, it's true: it was about 100 degrees in
that (very small) pub, and there was a crowd of around
80 people. Before the show, Robyn looked out on those
of us waiting in the street from a window above the
pub, and called out to people he knew in the crowd. I
heard him warm up with Roxy Music's "More Than This"
and the Beatles' "Julia," and I was already excited.
We were given tickets that were embossed with "WA",
and were given white badges to wear.
Inside, there were no chairs, and as there was no
stage either we all stood around the corner where the
band had set up. The room was decorated with large
posters of the individual Beatles, and their lyrics
appeared in frames on the walls. Robyn came out about
8:30 dressed in kelly green pants and a black & white
polka-dot shirt. He looked great, and very happy. He
announced, "Hi, we're the White Album." Accompanying
him were Morris Windsor, Andy Metcalfe,
[ed: actually Paul Noble] Kimberley Rew,
and some young guy (whose name I didn't get) on
keyboards. Before the performance, writer Michel
Faber and some other woman said a few words about
Medicins sans Frontieres.
When they launched into "Back in the USSR," I couldn't
get over the huge sound and how faithful it was to the
Beatles' original. Throughout the show, they really
tried to do the songs as they were originally
recorded, and this included guitar solos, drumming,
and all the other incidental sounds that appear on the
album. Somehow the keyboardist was able to recreate
the familiar sounds of planes landing (USSR), birds
(Blackbird), and all piano and organ parts. Robyn
remarked that it took the keyboardist 2 hours to do
the things that originally took the Beatles 400 hours
to do when they originally recorded.
Robyn presented the songs as a kind of "dialogue"
among the Beatles. Where John rocked with "Yer
Blues," Paul responded with something sweet like
"Mother Nature's Son," and then George "replied" with
"Savoy Truffle." It was very clever. A female
fiddler was brought out for "Don't Pass Me By," and a
comedian named Adam Buxton did "Why Don't We Do It in
the Road" as a funny rap karaoke piece. "Julia" was
done by a sweet,young, nervous performer with a band
whose name I didn't hear. He flubbed the words a
little bit, but Robyn and the rest of the crowd helped
After a break of about 10 minutes and some much-needed
air, the band came back and did Side 3. The whole
place was jumping with the song "Birthday." Later on,
Kimberley Rew even yelled out "I got blisters on my
fingers.." after "Helter Skelter." And
then--"Revolution 9." Everyone was so curious to see
how they'd do it. A laptop was set up to count out
the 8:15 seconds of the song, and with the landlord of
the pub reciting "Number 9" over and over again, they
somehow matched the cacophony of the Beatles'
original. It was excruciatingly loud. Andy Metcalfe [ed again: Paul Noble]
took a small bullhorn and ran it up and down the
strings of his guitar. On top of all the sound, Robyn
took the opportunity to lambaste George Bush, and
spewed out a string of curses in disgust of the U.S.'s
policies. It was very effective, and a little scary.
After the show, an auction was held for Medicins sans
Frontiers. T-shirts, cd's, artwork from Peter Blake,
and even spangly platform shoes autographed on the
bottom by the band were sold. The hottest items were
2 identical CDs recorded at the previous night's show.
We were told that these were unique, although Robyn's
wife joked that they'd be for sale at London's Camden
Market the next day. I'd like to believe that they
also recorded that evening's performance. I would
certainly buy it, especially as it would be for
charity, but we'll see what develops.
A wonderful account, Mary. I couldn't have put it better but I can
add a few things...
> Inside, there were no chairs, and as there was no
> stage either we all stood around the corner where the
> band had set up. The room was decorated with large
> posters of the individual Beatles, and their lyrics
> appeared in frames on the walls. Robyn came out about
> 8:30 dressed in kelly green pants and a black & white
> polka-dot shirt.
Which he changed for one with smaller polka dots for the second set,
He looked great, and very happy. He
> announced, "Hi, we're the White Album." Accompanying
> him were Morris Windsor, Andy Metcalfe, Kimberley Rew,
> and some young guy (whose name I didn't get) on
It was Paul Noble on bass, not Andy, and the keyboard player was
> A female
> fiddler was brought out for "Don't Pass Me By,"
Kalina? Sung by Morris a la Ringo.
> done by a sweet,young, nervous performer with a band
> whose name I didn't hear. He flubbed the words a
> little bit, but Robyn and the rest of the crowd helped
> him out.
Robyn introduced him as Romeo from a new band call the Magic ...I
didn't catch the second bit!
> I'd like to believe that they
> also recorded that evening's performance. I would
> certainly buy it, especially as it would be for
> charity, but we'll see what develops.
If they do, it may well be the Saturday show because Robyn's guitar
cut out during "While My Guitar Gentlty Weeps" (prompting him to
comment "While My Guitar Gently Dies") and wasn't fixed until they
came back for side 3. Robyn looked a little uncomfortable without
his guitar but it could have just been the heat!
Kimberley sang a lovely "Blackbird" and was stunning playing the
Clapton licks on "While My Guitar". Robyn was much more at home with
the John and George songs than the Paul ones on which he didn't seem
to be able to get the right key and compensated by hamming them up a
bit. "Yer Blues" was stunning and "Long Long Long" was a revalation
to me - it's always sounded a bit flat on the White Album but was
absolutely beautiful in the hands of RH and co. The only bit I
didn't like was Adam Buxton's rap version of "Why Don't We Do It In
The Road?" - Robyn is a far superior comedian! But all in all, one
of the best gigs I've ever been to - I'm hoping the next one
is "Piper at the Gates of Clerkenwell"!!!
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