If you happen to own a bootleg recording of the Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians concert at the Cambridge Junction in January 1992, please allow me to offer my sincere apologies. Not for the show - it was fantastic. Neither for the quality of the amateur recording, which is excellent. Rather for the moment during the encore when Robyn surprises the audience by introducing erstwhile Soft Boys colleague Kimberley Rew to the stage to play a couple of their old band's tunes. While the majority of those assembled react with understandable enthusiasm, one individual, standing very close to the taper's microphone, loses his cool completely. 'F**k' he screams. 'It's f**king Kimberley Rew' he adds, approaching hysteria. 'It's a f**king Soft Boys reunion.....' Yes, I'm afraid that shrieking buffoon was me. Sorry.
23 years later, longer in tooth and calmer of disposition, when Robyn pulled the very same rabbit out of the hat for the encore of his solo concert in Norwich last Sunday, I managed to control my emotions somewhat more successfully. This time, his short set with Kimberley featured 'I Often Dream of Trains', 'Queen of Eyes', 'Tonight' and new composition 'My Eyes Have Seen the Trolley Bus', before they wrapped things up with a pair of covers that The Soft Boys used to play back in the mists of time, 'Mystery Train' and 'Cold Turkey'.
Prior to Kimberley's appearance, Robyn performed stunning solo arrangements of material drawn from all stages of his career, including 'My Wife and My Dead Wife', 'Listening to the Higsons' and 'Saturday Groovers'. Best of the lot for me though was 'Chinese Bones', a song originally released on the 1988 LP 'Globe of Frogs' (and covered in concert that same year by Suzanne Vega and the Grateful Dead!). The version he played last Sunday was a thing of utter beauty, not unlike this one, recorded in 2007.