Wednesday, 6 November 2019

And I Remember More Than I Can Tell

Kimberly, Robyn, Ruby and Morris onstage at the Union Chapel (Photo by yours truly)

Sometimes, we can take our favourite artists for granted and almost overlook what made us fall in love with them in the first place. Last week I was reminded in no uncertain terms why Robyn Hitchcock holds such a special place in my heart, when I caught two successive shows on his current UK tour. The first, in a modern, rather atmosphereless space in his old home town of Cambridge, a totally solo affair, kicked off with 'Tonight' and 'Queen of Eyes', Soft Boys classics written within a short distance of where we were sitting. The set then took a stroll through Robyn's vast back catalogue from the very old (and extremely obscure) 'Stranded in the Future' up to his current 7" single ('...not available in any record shop...') 'Sunday Never Comes', a song I'll admit took me a little while to get to grips with on initial release, but which I now recognise to be a thing of exquisite beauty. His interstitial meanderings were as entertaining as always. '...sorry about the slight roughness of my voice, I ate rather a lot of cheese before I came on stage which has left me with a dry throat...' I'm particularly indebted to the punter towards the front of the audience who shouted a request for 'The Speed of Things' during the encore. It's a personal favourite and one I'd not seen Robyn perform previously.

In contrast to the soulless Cambridge room, the Union Chapel in London is a beautiful 19th century building which hosted a truly memorable show on Tuesday evening, where Robyn was joined by fellow former fellow Soft Boys Kimberly Rew and Morris Windsor, along with Robyn's niece Ruby Wright on musical saw and backing vocals. The setlist, long and eclectic, featured a clutch of Soft Boys nuggets as you might imagine, though not necessarily the anticipated heavy hitters. '(I Want to be an) Anglepoise Lamp', 'The Face of Death' and 'Human Music' all got an airing, as well as solo rarities 'Uncorrected Personality Traits', 'Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus' and 'Flavour of Night'. It was a fabulous night. Robyn was on fire, sculpting a setlist to die for and flooring us between songs with a series of unique stream of consciousness ramblings. A number of fans from the online Hitchcock community who've seen the great man in concert many more times than me, have lauded the gig as among the best they can remember.

Even if you're not already a fan, I'd recommend catching a Robyn Hitchcock concert if he pitches up in your part of the world anytime soon. I guarantee that you'll come away having been royally entertained and feeling totally besotted. (A sidebar to the Scottish contingent of our little corner of the internet: Robyn is back in the UK to play Glasgow's Celtic Connections on January 26th - put it in your diaries!) I'll leave you with the 1986 original of another highlight from the Union Chapel show.

Robyn Hitchcock - Winchester


Charity Chic said...

I've never seen him Swede
Hope to right that wrong sooner rather than later
Unfortunately it wont be on 26th January as I am the Roaming Roots Tribute to Springsteen event that night

C said...

What a fantastic way to spend some of your time off. Great descriptions of the gigs and having also been to a Union Chapel concert and been so impressed with its beauty and unique atmosphere, I can just imagine how well Mr Hitchcock & Co fitted in. (Only downside being the hardness of those pews!)

Brian said...

Great read, Swede. Wish I could have been at both shows. Just seeing Kimberly Rew's name gave me a tingle.

John Medd said...

A week well spent; a man after my own heart.

Rickety Rackety said...

Never caught Mr. Hitchcock in live action - sounds great. Having attempted to resurface into the wider world, I recently came across his newish venture with Andy Partridge. I'm guessing you will be well aware of this but just want to say how bloody wonderful it sounds. A real pick me up.

Jez said...

The Union Chapel is probably my favourite venue in That London, every gig I've been to there(from Evan Dando to Billy Bragg to, yes, The Quo)has been bloody wonderful. Sorry to have missed this, sounds like another absolute belter. Officially jealous.

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