Category Archives: Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock

… at the Carrboro Arts Center.

Tenth time seeing him! First time was in March, 1997.

This set was mostly requests that he took on Facebook. So it was a lot of stuff I’d never heard him do live before: One Long Pair Of Eyes, The Ghost Ship, I Want To Destroy You, A Skull, A Suitcase…. And, he picked one of my suggestions: Luminous Rose. In addition, he played almost all of my favorites: Guilford, Glass Hotel, Briggs, etc.. If he had also played Chinese Bones, he would’ve completed my top five. He also played a lot of songs from his (very good) new record, which all sounded great done with just an acoustic guitar.

Local singer, Skylar Gudasz, opened with a set of excellent tunes – minimalist and intimate in the style of Cat Power or Joni Mitchell at her best. Worth checking out.

Three weeks till Paul Simon.

Robyn Hitchcock, Eugene Mirman

Nine times. I’ve now seen him nine times. And six of the shows, like last night’s, were at the Cat’s Cradle.

This was a good set. He played a few of his standards (“My Wife And My Dead Wife”, “I’m Only You”, “Queen Elvis”) a few things I’ve never seen him do live before (“Linctus House”, “Balloon Man”, “52 Stations”) – plus a couple I’ve never heard ever but which sound like his more recent stuff, so I assume they’re new. Singer Emma Swift came out to help out on harmonies for his last three songs. So, very nice.


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He played for about 45 minutes. Then, comedian Eugene Mirman (‘Gene’ from ‘Bobs Burgers’) did a set.


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Very funny, and unusual – he did a bit where he asked his Amazon Echo silly questions.

And then they did about ten minutes together, talking, before Robyn closed with one more song.

Robyn submitted to doing pictures with fans, finally. Last time I asked for a picture, I got a polite No.

Robyn Hitchcock

Saw Robyn last night at Kings in Raleigh. And I think this was the 8th time I’ve seen him. Dude plays a lot of shows.

Though he has a new record out, he didn’t play any songs from it. He made a point to tell us that he wasn’t going to play any from it and that he didn’t have any copies for sale but that his record label is just down the road so we could just ask them for copies. Odd.

He did play a very diverse set, though. There were a few standards (ex. “Glass Hotel”, “I’m Only You”), some newer things (ex. “Ole Tarantula”), some old stuff (ex. “The Lizard”), many things I’d never heard before, the rare “Victorian Squid”, and a couple of covers (one from Dylan and one from Neil Young). All solo and acoustic.

He was in good form.

Local legend Chris Stamey (founding member of the dBs) and his band opened. They did a bunch of Stamey songs, which I didn’t know, and a few fun covers (“Hey Bulldog”, “Draggin The Line”, “September Gurls”, etc.). And, they joined Robyn at the end of his set for a few more covers (“Happiness Is A Warm Gun”, “Dear Prudence” and “Lay Lady Lay”).

Good time.

I have audio of Happiness.

Robyn Hitchcock – Cats Cradle Back Room

Last night we saw Robyn Hitchcock, yet again, at the Cat’s Cradle. They built a new smaller space next to the main club, and Robyn is doing two nights there. It’s a nice little room, with a small balcony and a few seats along the walls. They also have a full bar, so they fall into NC’s ridiculous “private club” category which says that if if a place doesn’t serve food but does serve mixed drinks it has to be a member’s-only club. What this means in practice is that you pay a fee (in this case, the ticket price) to become a member, and then you get a card and you just flash your card when you come back. So dumb.

He did a shortish set, starting with a bunch of his newer tunes – from Tromsø, Kaptein and the Venus Three records – and then going back through earlier solo stuff (ex. “Sometimes a Blonde”), some Egyptians stuff (“My Wife & My Dead Wife”, “I’m Only You”, “One Long Pair Of Eyes”, etc.) and all the way back to the Soft Boys’ “Queen Of Eyes”. Lots of ‘banter’.

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It was just him, no band or accompaniment. And, it’s been a while since I’ve seen him like that. So that was cool. I could’ve stood to hear a few more songs, though.

At the end of his set, he walked out into the audience and found a guy who had been standing next to us on the balcony earlier, brought that guy on stage and asked for a second microphone. The sound guy wasn’t expecting this, so there was a frantic scramble to make it happen. After that was sorted, Robyn and this guy did a ten or fifteen minute set of … banter? stand-up? riffing? They just talked. And this guy, who’s name I didn’t catch was amazingly able to keep up with Robyn’s stream-of-consciousness riffing. Obviously someone who was comfortable on stage. They talked about Florida, and how Robyn won’t go to Colorado because CO was the first state to ban public smoking, and the police, etc.. It was unexpected, and a bit puzzling – we kept thinking they might do a song? – but they were funny. At the end, Robyn said he’d be joining that guy at the end of that guy’s show in the main room of the Cat’s Cradle the following night (tonight).

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We were puzzled.

So, today, I looked it up. “That guy” is comic Eugene Mirman. You might know him as the voice of Gene on “Bob’s Burgers”. And he was standing next to us and we didn’t know who he was. Missed opportunity!

Luminous Rose

Here’s Gillian Welch and David Rawlings (performing as The David Rawlings Machine) doing Robyn Hitchcock’s “Luminous Rose”, Feb ’07.

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

OK, looks like this audio thingy works. Yay!

Cornish Bones

Cornish game hen: if you’re willing to work as hard as if you’re eating lobster, you are rewarded with the exotic taste of chicken.

Whose stupid idea was that ?

Also: Suzanne Vega & The Grateful Dead once covered Robyn Hitchcock’s “Chinese Bones”:

This also makes no sense.

The acoustic version of this on his Obliteration Pie record might be my favorite RH song, ever. It’s either that, “Glass Hotel” or “No, I Don’t Remember Guilford” (both from Storefront). Theme: solo, acoustic, crystalline.

Bored.

Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 @ The Cat’s Cradle

Saw Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 at the Cat’s Cradle last night. This was the (1,2,3,4,5…6?) sixth time I’ve seen him, and the fourth time I’ve seen him at the Cat’s Cradle. I suppose that means I’m one creepy smile away from getting a restraining order. It was another great show.

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The Venus 3 are Scott McCaughey, Bill Rieflin and Peter Buck – all of whom play, in various capacities, with some band called R.E.M., and another called The Minus 5. There were a surprising number of people in line who had only a passing familiarity with Hitchcock, and were there to mostly see Peter Buck. Nothing wrong with that of course; Buck’s kind of a legend, and I was all gushy over seeing him last time they came to town.

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And Robyn Hitchcock remains Robyn Hitchcock: still as funny and clever and musically interesting as ever. Who else could make a crowd sing along and pump their fists to a line like “Fuck me baby, I’m a trolley bus!” ? (OK, maybe Malkmus)

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This time around, they played mostly songs from the two R.H. & V3 albums, with a few from Robyn’s Egyptians-period (including an acoustic “Lady Waters”, by request, which he said he hadn’t played since the mid 80s), a couple of Soft Boys’ songs, and just a couple from Robyn’s many solo-acoustic albums (typically my favorite). But, they’re a good enough band that it all sounded great. The new stuff I especially liked live – the songs seem a little too polished in the studio.

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They played Matt Pond PA’s “Last Light” album on a loop, before the opening band came on. I’ll just go ahead and assume that the Cat’s Cradle staff reads this blog. Kidding, of course. Matt Pond PA played there last year. And I didn’t go, because I’m lame.

There was a silent auction for miniature traffic cones that Robyn had doodled all over. My $50 bid was immediately trumped. I’m not sure how much they eventually went for. Instead, I bought a giant print of a double-decker bus with “Goodnight Oslo” (title of their current album) printed on its side. They were numbered prints, and I got number “200/200”. I don’t know if that means I got the last one they had, or just the last one printed, or if it doesn’t mean anything. Anyway, Buck and Hitchcock signed it for me.

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Robyn and Scott McCaughey were both playing these funky-lookin Airline guitars. Retro-hipsters!

The opening band, Durham’s Erie Choir was quite good, too. It was the first time I’d seen anyone play a wooden box, live.

Saw Neko Case the night before, and I left the Cat’s Cradle last night at 12:45AM, with a 40 minute drive home – in a car reeking of BBQ. Fuck I’m tired.

Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3

Mrs C and I went to see Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 at the Cat’s Cradle last Friday. This is the 5th time we’ve seen Robyn, but the first time we’ve seen him with a band. And this band was: Scott McCaughey (of the Minus 5, and formerly Young Fresh Fellows) and Bill Rieflin (also of the Minus 5 but who also played in a bunch of “industrial” bands from the early 90’s, including Ministry and KFMDM, and is the unofficial replacement for Bill Berry of REM – what a resume!); and then Peter Buck, who also plays in the Minus 5 but is best known as being the guitar player for R.E.M.. So, not only did I get to see one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Robyn, but I got to see one of my all-time favorite guitar players, Peter Buck. His playing on the first five or so R.E.M. records is just awesome. He’s not a flashy player, just a very tasty and melodic one. And, because we got there early (first in line!), we were front and center, leaning on the stage – no watching from the back of the room this time.

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It’s hard to overstate how thrilled I was to see Peter Buck playing those songs. He’s played on Robyn’s records before the Venus 3 (much to the surprise of the astonished guy who asked Buck to autograph ‘the only thing he had with him’, the cassette insert from Robyn’s Globe Of Frogs – “I’ll sign anything, but I did play on this one. See, here’s the credit,” Buck said, pointing to his name in the list of guest musicians), so hearing him play some of that stuff was cool. And we also got to see him play parts that David Rawlings (another of my favorite guitar players) played on Spooked, which was also cool. I was hoping they’d do an R.E.M. song, but no luck there. Buck’s pretty low-key on-stage – not a lot of jumping around; he just chimes away with that semi-hollow Epiphone 12-string (or sometimes the Rick’ 6-string, below).

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The guy who played bass and did backup vocals is the singer from the Minus 5, Scott McCaughey. He played guitar and sang lead on one of the encores, a rockin little Minus 5 song called “Aww Shit Man”. He was fun to watch.

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Like I said, we were very close.

While the whole thing was great, perhaps the high point of the show, for me, was one of the encores: 8 Miles High. Both Robyn and Peter Buck play a lot of high jangly Byrds-style stuff anyway, so a Byrds song seems like a natural choice. And when they did that classic beautiful lead, in harmony… yum.

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I was interested to see that Robyn was using the same amp as mine (Fender 1×12 “Hot Rod Deluxe”) and a blue Telecaster Plus (my Tele+ is black). Great minds…

At the end of the show, my sweet wife grabbed the set list off the stage, and we got them all (less the drummer, who wouldn’t come out) to sign it.

There was an opening band, but, well… let’s not talk about them.