Robyn Hitchcock... Gigography

Robyn Hitchcock with Tim Keegan and Ntshuks Bonga
Concert appearance: Thu., 20 Nov. 1997

Jazz Cafe
Camden, England UK

Set list:

Gene Hackman
Chinese Bones
Clean Steve
I Feel Beautiful
Madonna of the Wasps
Jewels for Sophia
Queen Elvis
Glass Hotel
The Devil's Radio w/Ntshuks
The Lizard
You and Oblivion
Daisy Bomb
Adoration of the City
I Saw Nick Drake w/Nschuks

Length: 80

Some impressions from Robyn and friends at the Jazz Cafe last night.

The Dear Janes supported Robyn. I only heard their last few songs as I walked
in and wasn't impressed - the sort of live music you talk over. While waiting
for Robyn I spotted one half of Coffee & Cream in the audience. Was it Coffee ?
Was it Cream ? I'm not sure. Robyn came on with his Martin and black&white
polka dot shirt and launched into Gene Hackman. He mentioned his film and said
it is being held up so they can edit in Gary Glitter. The audience enjoyed
that. His guitar and voice were powerful and clear and after a few songs I
laughed when Robyn introduced 1974 with "You're born, you have a series of hot
drinks and then you die". Tim from Homer played guitar for a few songs but he
seemed subdued and unhappy. His usual stage chemistry with Robyn was lacking.
Both artists complained about the cold air on stage. Tim begged for the AC to be
switched off. Robyn asked for a cup of coffee.

For me the best song was a thrilling performance of Devil's Radio which made my
spine tingle. This was due in great part to Robyn's muso chum who jumped on
stage and played 'zoot horn rollo' style saxophone all the way through. It
sounded similar to the Moss Elixir version. Later Robyn switched to Telecaster
and I was relieved he did not use the fuzzbox which I think sounds so tacky.
Instead he used a lot of reverb on Glass Hotel and a lot of echo on some old
song about a lizard which worked well. He did a long encore and played about 80
minutes altogether.

I hadn't seen Robyn for 18 months and I really enjoyed myself. Well done RH.
On my way out someone thrust a flyer into my hand advertising Robyn playing The
Mean Fiddler, Harlesden, London on 9th December.

I know I've retired into the deepest darkest depths of lurkdom, but I'll
briefly mention some of the highs and lows of last night's Jazz Cafe gig.

Firstly, I didn't rate the Dear Janes much at the 12 Bar, and I still
don't rate them much after last night. But I don't think they deserved
the treatment they got from the sound engineer. Okay, to be fair he'd
sorted the sound out by the end of their set, but where was he during the
sound check? The guitars were too low, the bass was a muddy puddle, and
the drums (bass drum + bongos + hi-hat/ride) were a mess.

Anyway, enough of the Dear Janes. Robyn was on pretty good form - great
vocals, great guitar, etc., etc. I didn't make a note of the set; it
consisted of most of the stuff he's been performing recently, but we did
get a good selection of new songs, some of which I heard for the first
time (Adoration Of The City, Freeze, Feels Like 1974, I Feel Beautiful).
Tim joined in for a good proportion of the set, and Ntchuks for quite a
few songs as well. Highlights? 'I Feel Beautiful' felt beautiful, and 'I
Saw Nick Drake' with sax was nice. We also got a pretty experimental
version of Airscape... a bit haphazard during the solo, but 10 out of 10
for effort. Robyn also had some sound engineer problems - guitar effects
not working, until he complained about it into the mike and suddenly they
sprung to life. "How did you do that?" he asked looking at the sound
engineer, "he must be a Scorpio!" We also had one song dedicated to Baby
Spice (the man has taste! Go on, let the flames roar!), but I can't for
life of me remember which song or why (I don't think he even hinted at why
though). All in all, another good gig showcasing some strong new songs.
I can't wait for the next album!


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