The man never disappoints. Never.
He opened with “Chinese Bones,” morphed into "Balloon Man," and cherry-picked a wonderful selection of tunes from his vast catalog, including “I Often Dream of Trains” (!), “Queen Elvis,” “Ole! Tarantula,” “English Girl,” and even the Soft Boys classics “Only the Stones Remain” and “The Queen of Eyes.” He deftly threw in a Dylan cover, hit us with some Hendrix, and busted out “Dear Prudence,” much to the chagrin of CR, who associates the song more with the hated Siouxsie than the beloved Beatles.
Robyn still looks amazing. Graying, wizened, and in need of a travel iron, but amazing nonetheless. CR and I have a running joke regarding Robyn’s sense of style, or lack thereof. He’s got a real penchant for bold patterns and colors, and over the years I’ve learned that the only other folks who tend to wear these sorts of shirts are record store owners. I’m not exactly sure why this is, nor am I all too sure it’s still as true today as it was in the past, but a quick look inside CR’s closet proves that he too was once a record store owner. Paul, mate. Stop laughing, lest you think I don't know about your old Lymington shop. It's evident in the clothes you wear. I’m not saying the shirts are bad, I’m just saying that they are a bit much in the pattern department.
My guess is that Robyn buys them because, in the event that some rabid fan managed to get backstage to his dressing room, they would not be tempted to steal one. Even rabid fans have some taste.
Opener Sean Nelson (Harvey Danger, The Long Winters) was self-deprecatingly funny and charming, and was the perfect counter-melody to several of Robyn’s songs. Their voices blended so well that it was hard to believe they have not always sung together. Such sublime magic nearly moved me to tears.
Of course he couldn't play everything we wanted to hear - that'd take DAYS - but he did a nice job of mixing the old with the new. Personally I would have loved to hear "Furry Green Atom Bowl," "Winchester" and "My Favourite Buildings," but I wasn't disappointed in his song selection. I’ve seen Robyn enough to know what to expect – amusing stories and snippets of alternate universes inhabited by land-crabs, can openers, tomatoes, and crustaceans of all sorts, coupled with acoustic numbers and some rocking electric craziness. But even this Hitchcock veteran got a few surprises last night: he requested the hall be non-smoking, which was awesome and unexpected because the show wasn't listed as such on the Southgate House web site; he played “Cynthia Mask,” which I wrongly assumed he’d never play again after the break-up with his Blue Ash muse; and he made himself accessible after the show for autographs and chit-chat with his legions of fans.
Very cool, and utterly brilliant. But then, that’s how Robyn Hitchcock rolls.