Concert appearance: Mon., 24 Feb. 1997
40 Watt Club
Athens, Georgia US
The Ghost Ship 8 minute version w/new verses
De Chirico Street
Madonna of the Wasps
The Wind Cries Mary (Jimi Hendrix)
I'm Only You
I Something You
The Yip Song
I Am Not Me
You and Oblivion
Raymond Chandler Evening
Only the Stones Remain
Queen of Eyes encore
Direct Me to the Cheese
Sinister But She Was Happy
Well I didn't see anything mentioned in the past few Digest issues, other than
a request for details, so here's a few observations on the Feb 24 Robyn show
at the 40 Watt . . .
Alright, here's the songs my wife and I could recall. I didn't write them down
that night and I gave up on trying to recall the order. I am sure about the
first song and last song's order though. On second thought, I'm only sure about
the first song.
It seems like there should be more--maybe I left one out but I don't think
so. He played for 90 minutes, with a lot of stories in between songs.
Regarding the cones:
They were selling cones and had a few left when we arrived, which was only
about 30 minutes before Robyn came out. I bought the one titled "Dr Ego's
Coach" which had a saxophone changing into a duck of some kind. It also
had written on it "Hornfowl" to represent this transmogrification. And
Robyn's signature and number 29. Basically the cones are about 10 inches tall
and all the ones I saw had 5 or 6 different pictures that changed into
different things as you twist the cone. I was torn between the one I chose
and one with an onion turning into a guitar. I couldn't justify $20 on two
cones though, so I stuck with Hornfowl.
OK, the show. For props, his assistant brought out a table with a glass of
water, a gaudy lamp with a base of a woman and big pom poms hanging from the
lampshade, a book, and a song list. Also on stage was a bar stool with a full
sized green construction cone with one of those upside-down ducks drawn on it.
We were fortunate to be able to stand at the base of the stage right in front
of Robyn. The crowd was mellow but very appreciative of Robyn's songs and
stories, and as a result, Robyn seemed very comfortable and was quite talkative
Robyn entered with a cup of coffee and began to read from the book (I have
the title of the book at home, but couldn't catch the author). I wasn't sure
if he was reading the whole time or if he was adding his own material to it.
I'll bet that he bought both the book and the lamp at a shop a few doors down
from the club, as it sells both books and other stuff that looks like it came
from people's attics or basements. Plus Robyn referred to that shop a few times
as he discussed the "groove" potential around the 40 Watt--a groove potential
that was now being realized. He also said something about how he just came
from Nashville and that reading books wasn't allowed there.
The book sounded like it could have been written by Robyn--non-sequitor, with
strange descriptions and plays on words all over the place. After reading it
aloud for about 5 minutes, he said something about MTV killing the imagination
and then put down the book and launched into Ghost Ship, as I said with about
6 minutes of lyrics I'd never heard before.
As usual, Robyn sounded great, his guitar work was immaculate (in fact he
spent several minutes of a few songs on pretty extensive soloing--the songs
The Wind Cries Mary and You and Oblivion are two examples), and the stories
he related were all one's I'd never heard (although prior to his Atlanta
show with Bragg, it had been many years since I'd seen him play live.)
A few topics he covered: a story about an artist who painted on white canvas
using toothpaste who lived alone and had never seen his own reflection or
another person or animal and who was standing over a non-reflecting but black
and shiny moat, which surrounded his castle, when his beard (which was dangling
in the water) "caught" a woman who pulled herself up his beard and it was
revealed that she was half woman and half wasp. She proceeded to
sting him in his navel followed by him falling asleep and ... this went on
and turned into a story about this artist being God's brother Cecil, followed
by a story about why God invented the world--the devil injected him with a
needle and inserted a golf ball in God's neck, which grew and prompted God
to go crazy and create a round earth in its likeness.
I could go on about other stories if I had the time, so I'll just
say he also discussed the hazards of flying pianos in planes, more stuff about
God and Cecil, going to sleep with someone in a double bed and waking up alone
in a single bed with your legs being 2 feet longer and the severed head of
a horse in a piece of furniture at the foot of the bed, a story which took
place on a blimp about a Ms. Nose who had a flamingo neck, the fact that
2/3's of his cells had rejuvenated since he had been to Athens last--making
this a new experience for him . . . there were other stories I'm sure I missed.
After the show, we hung around for a bit and then ventured back stage. There
were maybe 15 - 20 people around, including members of the opening band. We
went back there with the hope that we could say hi to Robyn and maybe get
an autograph and perhaps a brief conversation. I patiently waited to approach
him--Mike Mills (REM) was chatting with him and inviting him to go shoot some
pool down the street. Eventually I went up to Robyn and asked if he minded
signing something for me. He said sure and took my pen and two CD sleeves
(Element of Light and Eye) and then said that we had better do this out of
this room. This is where it got strange, as we were in a good sized room with
few people around, making it easy for him to sign the things right there, but
instead he left the room and we followed him into a crowded hallway where other
people were hanging around to another even smaller area where Robyn realized
that he had no place to put down his drink and cigarette in order to sign
the CD sleeves. After circling the room a bit and putting down and picking up
the CD sleeves, he headed back toward us--we moved out of his way and
followed him into the room we had originally come from. He signed the two
and gave them back saying the Eye cover is a hard one to sign. I thought he
meant because it was both a darker background and a smoother surface, but Ellen
, my wife, told me it was due to the personal nature of the record. Oh yeah,
I thought. "I meant in addition to that," I said smoothly. ;)
The short conversation never happened, although I got in a few words hoping to
start a dialogue of some kind. I said something excruciatingly witty about
Robyn's youthful appearance--something about the fountain of youth. He told
me to keep talking like that and then went back to his girlfriend, leaving my
excruciating wit behind. Ellen and I took our cue and headed home.
Sorry for the length of all this. I may have rambled many lines too long.
PS As I said he looks a lot younger than he is--especially around the eyes (few
if any wrinkles at all). He started the set with black jeans, a white linen
looking shirt, and a black vest. For the one and only encore he changed into
a black and white diamond print silk shirt.
One thing this intimate-feeling show reminded me of is how lucky we fans our
of Robyn's fairly continuous touring over the past few years. The man is
basically a one of a kind legend and is still on the road playing small clubs
around the US and England. We need to treasure these shows--the likes of
Robyn don't come around too often in this world. At some points during the
evening this really hit home.
If you have an addition or correction, please send an e-mail message about it to Bayard Catron.
If you ever see an error message or a bad link, please send an e-mail message about that to John Hedges.
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