Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock
Concert appearance: Sat., 16 Aug. 1997

Robyn at Sea
Isle of Wight, England UK

Set list:

Gene Hackman on the shore at Yarmouth:
Cheese Alarm
De Chirico Street
The Devil's Radio
Jewels for Sophia
Beautiful Queen on the Boat:
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, it Takes a Train to Cry (Bob Dylan)
Viva Sea-Tac
If You Were a Priest
All Shook Up (Elvis Presley/Otis Blackwell)
Mystery Train (Sam Phillips)
Clean Steve

The boat left Lymington at 5:00 in glorious sunshine.
There were about 80 of us on board including Robyn and his various friends/relatives. It was a small two level tour boat.

Robyn played on the lower deck whilst we travelled to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. There we disembarked to the old deserted Railway station where we all sat on the platform whilst Robyn stood and played where the tracks used to be.

After this we all headed back through Yarmouth in a large group. Guess what? Theres only some sort of Regatta/Parade in Yarmouth, and us fegs end up marching our way back to the pier just a few hundred yards ahead of the main parade to the extreme delight/bemusement of the onlooking crowd.

Finally as the sun set, we got back on the boat and Robyn played a final set at the top of the steps between the levels.

All in all, an very good day indeed. Robyn appeared to be fairly happy and chatted to everybody.

I noticed there were a couple of people (u know who u are) recording the 'show' (hence sarcasm from Robyn at one point) so I've not bothered trying to piece together a set list. I'll post a rough version if the bootleggers fail us.


It's VERY quiet round here...

Anyway, I see someone's already covered most of the boat trip; I thought
I'd throw in some of the most memorable bits:

Watching the expressions of confusion and bewilderment on the Yarmouth
residents' faces was very entertaining. It was the weekend at the end of
Cowes week, so lots of people were about in the town. On the way back
from the disused railway station to the boat, we took the path of the
parade just before the parade itself set off... you could hear the locals,
sitting out in their pretty front gardens, saying, "Who are all these
people then? I don't remember this last year!"

Robyn noticing the burglar alarm on the disused railway station building,
and saying, "My God! That wasn't there two years ago. That's inviting

The disbelief that we were all going to fit on the boat when it came.

Robyn's version of All Shook Up on the voyage back to Lymington, complete
with Elvis style vocals and hip swinging!

Performance wise, I really thought it would have sounded a lot better if
Robyn had been backed up by Tim (the double bass was great, but
another guitar and backing vocals would have been really great!).
Especially on some of the new ones like Jewels For Sophia and Viva Sea-Tac
(my two faves from the new crop). But the old favourites were sounding
good, especially the obligatory Clean Steve - "...I think he comes from
Leatherhead, which is nowhere near the Isle of Wight..."

And some info from all the chatting on the boat: MGM (I think it was MGM)
really like the new film; and it looks like Viva Sea-Tac will be the next
single (fine choice in my opinion).At Brockenhurst, it was a beautiful hot day and the New Forest ponies were
hiding in the shade, swishing their tails to keep the flies off. Arriving
by train in Lymington, I walked past the so-called 'Harbourmaster's Pier'
four times, studying the map closely each time, before I convinced myself
that this small gangplank and platform must indeed be it. I saw a bloke in
a 'Mrs Wafflehead' T-shirt looking equally lost and never saw him again
for the rest of the day...

Eventually a recognisable group of fegs began to cluster in a bunch, then
Robyn and Michelle got out of a car and everyone started to look for the
boat. When the 'Island Rose' (?) finally appeared, Robyn said 'Is that it?
We'll never get 60 people on there" I said (would-be wittily) "No trouble,
30 on the top deck and 30 on the bottom". He looked at me completely
seriously and said "Is it your boat, then?". "No" I replied, abashed. I
didn't speak to him again until the end of the trip. However, there turned
out to be plenty of room for the 82 people who turned up - which
unfortunately didn't include Tim Keegan (as Gary mentioned). Robyn was
looking for his mother: "Have you seen a little white-haired geezer, with
a smile and nice eyes?" he was asking.

The boat set sail at about 1720 hours, heading for Yarmouth Pier. I went
up to the top deck, and Robyn and Jake played on the bottom deck.

During "I dream of antwoman" Robyn got everyone singing along on a chorus
of 'being just contaminates the void'; I hadn't previously realised that
this was a singalong number. Then they played 'Oceanside' and 'Alright
Yeah' arriving at Yarmouth during the final bars.

We were deafened as we got off the boat by a rock band at the Yacht Club
belting out 'Johnny B Goode'. Then we trudged up to the old railway
station in the evening sunlight, avoiding eye-contact with the natives as
instructed by Robyn. The locals teemed through the great boulevards of
Yarmouth, carousing and celebrating carnival day.

Robyn played an excellent set at the station:
Gene Hackman
Cheese Alarm

(then with Jake)
De Chirico Street
Devil's Radio
Queen of Eyes
Jewels for Sophia

There were a couple of mildly surreal interruptions when the Sea Scout
troop came marching through, and when a large family accompanied by three
border collies came to inspect the proceedings. Robyn was devastated to
see a burglar alarm installed on the scout hut: "A burglar alarm in the
West Wight!"

Back to the boat, aiming to get on board in time to see the sunset. The
carnival crowd was by now crazed on rum truffles and candy floss, and many
a nervous feg picked up his / her feet anxiously, keen to escape from the
increasingly ugly murmurings of the canaille.

On the long return trip via the Needles, I sat downstairs and Robyn and
Jake played upstairs. I can't give a complete setlist as I was in the bar
for some of the time, but it included 'Beautiful Queen', 'Feels like 1974'
'Viva Sea-tac' 'All Shook Up' 'Mystery Train' (complete with Robbie
Robertson interlude bits) 'Bass' and 'Clean Steve'. There was an
interesting interlude when Robyn spotted a suspiciously calm patch of
water, and saw a nameless tentacled denizen of the deep pulling down a
swimmer who (despite coming up gasping for breath) was ultimately dragged
to a watery grave. I didn't see this myself, but Robyn was pretty
definite about it.

At the end people were thanking Robyn for the trip, so I showed him a
newspaper article on killer whales playing frisbee with stingrays. "The
human race has got a lot to answer for" he replied, convinced that the
whales had got the idea off TV (I told you this already).

Tired but happy, I got back into Lymington, in plenty of time to miss the
last train back to Bath. I had to get a cab from Westbury, which cost
twenty quid - but it was worth it!

- Mike G

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