Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock
Concert appearance: Sat., 22 Feb. 1997

Bluebird Café
Nashville, Tennessee US

Set list:

Daisy Bomb debut(?)
De Chirico Street
Balloon Man
Chinese Bones
The Devil's Coachman
I'm Only You
I Something You
I Am Not Me electric
You and Oblivion electric
Autumn is Your Last Chance electric
Freeze electric
Only the Stones Remain electric
The Wind Cries Mary (Jimi Hendrix)
Direct Me to the Cheese
The Speed of Things electric

Wanted to post before the euphoria wears off...

O.K., so we get to the Bluebird as the previous NEA Extravaganza show (think
SXSW with a less stellar and more rootsy cast) was winding down -- around
8:40 p.m. The Bluebird, for those of you not steeped in Nashville lore, is
the tiny club in the unlikely setting of a Green Hills strip mall where the
people who write about 75% of country music gather to sit and strum and be
seen by one another. If you ever see the River Phoenix / Sandra Bullock
film _The Thing Called Love_, a good deal of the film takes place at the
Bluebird. The exteriors are authentic, but the inside of the club is so
small that the filmmakers had to build a "Bluebird" set for interior shots
that's at least three times as big as the real thing. And you thought
things only *looked* bigger on the big screen!

While standing outside, my wife and I met some nice folks from Cincinnati
who are following Robyn around for the early bit of the tour; their jovial
company made the wait pass quickly. Around 9:00, the previous show let out
-- I think a harp (!) was involved -- and after the club was cleared and
reset, those of us with reservations were allowed into the premises. I
figured we'd have a good table since I called at the first minute the club
began accepting reservations for the show, but I thought we'd be second row
since biz pigs usually grab a good portion of the seats at any NEA show.
Imagine my surprise when we were shown to our seats -- front row, dead
center, table butting up against the monitors! If we'd been any closer,
we'd've been in Robyn's pocket.

The Dear Janes opened up; this was my first exposure to them and I found
them rather agreeable, though I wasn't moved to buy the CD after the show.

Then, of course, the main event. It's Robyn totally solo, no Deni.
Obligatory attire accounting: Robyn was clad in black jeans, black vest,
and white long-sleeved shirt; I've noted this before, but both my wife and I
think he looks quite handsome and striking in person though he often doesn't
photograph that well. For the encore, he switched to the
lizard-and-target-print shirt.

Stories, talking: stories were an integral part of both shows (1990, 1992)
I'd seen before, but I know from comments on this list and boots that Robyn
had cut down on his talking dramatically. I thought he'd reverted to his
old form after the first few songs, all of which featured lengthy and funny
introductions. Maybe he was trying to win over the crowd? As the show
progressed, though, the introductions grew shorter and shorter.

The quality: stellar, as ever. I have no quibbles to make with the
setlist, and it was amazing to sit that close and watch Robyn's fingers work
their magic on the fretboard. I wish I could afford the time off work to
make the Athens/Atlanta shows next week.

Here's the setlist:

new song -- "Upside-Down" or "Daisy Bomb"? He said he'd never
played it before, but he's said that about things he
darn well has too, so I dunno...
DeChirico Street
Balloon Man
Chinese Bones
Devil's Coachman
I'm Only You
I Something You
I Am Not Me
You and Oblivion
Autumn Is Your Last Chance [YES! the only surprise
(for me) of the night]
Only the Stones Remain
The Wind Cries Mary
I Cheese You
The Speed of Things

After the show, fellow Feg Gary Parker and I hung out -- Robyn signed
everything proffered to him while smoking outside of the club; I had brought
along three CD booklets (BSDR, IODOT, ME) and now all of 'em bear the "Robyn
H" signature, hooray!

Gary and I had both neglected to buy cones on the way in (Robyn has done a
numbered series of small orange plastic cones, similar to the kind you see
by the roadside; Robyn has drawn things all over 'em and signed each one,
$10 per cone); they were sold out by the time most of the crowd filed out,
but Robyn's road manager promised us he'd get us some out of the car. In
the meantime, said manager had gotten into an argument with a guy from the
Bluebird over the correct t-shirt money tally, so we waited for quite a bit.
The manager was nice enough when he finally settled things, and took us out
to the car where the promised cones materialized. Gary's features bee
drawings; mine has buildings metamorphasizing into feet, with one side of
the cone having a "PAF!" explosion.

As we made our way back through the Bluebird and out the front door, we ran
into Robyn as he was leaving. I shook his hand and blurted out an awkward
thanks for playing Nashville again after a five-year absence and something
about how much his music has meant to me. I did ask him one of my pet
questions, why he never revisited "St. Petersburg" or the other _Groovy
Decay_ material now that he's working with Deni, since he originally
envisioned the album with violin, not sax. His initial reply was that "St.
Petersburg" was "a bit dark and dreary;" he elaborated that those things
were fifteen years old, and he'd done an album with violin now, so there was
no need to revisit that material (sigh). Hope I didn't come off as too
fanboyish and awkward... then it was off into the 1 a.m. night for all of
us. A great evening!

Also, there may or may not be a Knoxville show today (Sunday) -- the couple
from Cincinnati had seen a schedule listing a Knoxville show, but the venue
said they were closed Sunday and didn't have him scheduled. When they asked
Robyn about it, he was under the impression that he WAS playing Knoxville,
so it appears to be anyone's guess.

I'll count on Gary to correct any mistakes or fill in any glaring omissions.
Now for sleepy time...

Cone-less no more,


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