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I Got The Hots
I Man's Got To Know His Limitations, Briggs
Not Dark Yet (Dylan)
The Yip Song
Sleeping With Your Devil Mask
Autumn Is Your Last Chance (electric)
I Often Dream Of Trains (electric)
I Feel Beautiful (electric)
The Last Thing To Die (electric instrumental)
Queen Of Eyes (electric)
One Long Pair Of Eyes
Visions Of Johanna (Dylan)
I can't believe mine will be the first report of the tour, since I spent the whole day driving home from it. Surely there are other fegs closer? Anyway, I'm terrible at this -- no setlist, for instance, and I can only say this much about the shirts: he wore 2 of them, on the upper half of his body. One at a time.
My 4th solo Robyn show and this one definitely stood out. He was all smiles, for one thing, which is always nice, and generous with the chatter. Not Dark Yet and Visions of Johanna were the Dylan songs. Again, better trainspotters will confirm or deny, but it seemed to me he played a few that I don't recall hearing solo -- both Devil Mask and Unsettled, I Got The Hots -- good new one called something like "A Good Man Knows His Limitations, Briggs". That got a lot of laughs thanks to the Dirty Harry rant that preceded it, but actually a strong melody and Robyn played it straight.
2 encores. Someone definitely taped the show because I saw him taking down his mics (right in front of the soundboard) afterwards.
Anyway, just a tease until the comprehensive setlist, shirt-fabric report surfaces.
2 new songs I never heard before - "Briggs" Robyn explained was about a character in Clint Eastwood's movie "Magnum Force". Clint's catch phrase in the film is "a man's got to know his limitations" and he finally gets to use it when Briggs drives off with a bomb Clint put in his car and explodes. The song is a nice mid-tempo melodic one. "The Last Thing To Die" was a melancholy instrumental not unlike some other Robyn guitar instrumentals. "Visions of Johanna" was great of course. At the end of the show Robyn said "see you in September"...
When the little curved stage curtain drew back revealing Robyn ('please don't call me Reg') Hitchcock, he was already strumming the first chords to "Mexican God", from his Jewels For Sophia CD. The enthusiastic crowd would have none of it, and the three hundred-or-so packed in fans cheered and yelled for a few minutes before he could get the song off to a proper start.
Let me just begin by saying how much I love Smith's Olde Bar. It is a great little spot, a dilapidated ancient hotel ballroom with a charming little stage, great sight lines, and wonderful sound. Every show I have seen at this venue has been memorable, and this one was certainly no exception.
Once into "Mexican God", Hitchcock immediately grabbed up and held the crowd in his palm. His voice was in fine form, whether a breathy pop whisper or using it as the devastating harsh sharp English-cutter-through-the-clutter weapon it can be. The second tune was a fine acoustic reading of The Soft Boys' "I Got The Hots", full of twisted lyrics and precise guitar playing.
There can be no doubt that going to see Reg play live is only half of the experience. The other half is hearing his amazing between song patter - riffing off, way off, into the ether, about one thing or another. This was very well illustrated in his lengthy intro to a song called "A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations, Briggs", for which Hitchcock explained how this title was a (not-so successful) Clint Eastwood catch phrase from the movie Magnum Force. Robyn deftly explained the movie's final scene where the bad cop, Briggs, points at Callahan (Clint), tells him 'I'm gonna get you', and drives off. Unfortunately Briggs is unaware that Clint/Callahan has planted a bomb in his car, and he doesn't get far before he's blown to bits, and Clint gets to say through clenched teeth, 'A man's gotta know his limitations, Briggs'. Watching Hitchcock act out this epic battle with American accents and all, the whole room practically fell to the floor laughing. It's obvious that Robyn could certainly have a career as a stand-up comic if he wasn't such a great musician.
Producing a harmonica and neck-holder, Reg next delivered a beautiful version of "Queen Elvis", perhaps one of the best coming-out-of-the-closet songs ever written, and a devastating take on Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet". The room was absolutely quiet as he mined this beauty of a song, featured on his new double CD of all Dylan covers, Robyn Sings,.
"The Yip Song", "Linctus House", and "Sleeping With Your Devil Mask" ended the acoustic portion of the set, and Reg switched to a cream-colored Fender Telecaster, which, he noted, sounded "very English, as opposed to Fresno". He continued on to explain that not being English 'wouldn't work for someone like me'. Using plenty of tremolo and reverb, he picked a very pretty version of "Autumn Is Your Last Chance", and then surprised me with a version of "I Often Dream Of Trains", from one of his earliest solo CD's. Robyn ended the set with a pretty version of "I Feel Beautiful" , one of his most positive love songs from Jewels For Sophia, but the crowd would not let him stay off stage long.
The first encores included a quirky, off-time guitar instrumental he introduced as "The Last Thing To Die", and then an incandescent version of the Soft Boys' "Queen Of Eyes" ('with her carapace shell and her black lace thighs'). He switched back to acoustic for a truly beautiful reading of "One Long Pair Of Eyes", and then was off again.
The crowd called Reg back for one more encore, and he explained the song he was going to play was 'the matrix'. It turned out to be another blockbuster Dylan cover, "Visions Of Johanna", which again held the crowd spellbound. Robyn said he'd be back in September, and then he was off the stage and the little curved stage curtains closed right up. Playing a great, well thought-out selection of songs from all phases of his long career, Hitchcock sang wonderfully, played beautifully, and told marvelously funny stories. He seems to be getting better and better with age. It was a great visit from old uncle Reg.