Robyn Hitchcock performed on Sunday night at the Varsity Theater, and I was there to see the show. It was the first time I've seen Robyn in concert, and it was great! The Varsity is a really small theater, so I was probably about 20 or 30 feet away from the stage. Robyn was performing with the Venus 3, Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin. It was a really rocking show! It seemed like Robyn played a lot of the lead guitar work, I knew he was an amazing acoustic guitar player, but I was impressed by his electric work too. Robyn played for 2 hours, and he said they threw in some extra songs because this was the last night of the tour. He told some stories about Kate Winslet's mouth, Earl the Penguin, who lives on a neon green traffic cone, and the Foshay Tower. (The Foshay Tower was at one point the tallest building west of the Mississippi, it's an iconic Minneapolis landmark, still standing.) At the end of the show Robyn said, "Peter and I have carved miniature replicas of the Foshay Tower out of soap, we'll be autographing them at the merch table afterwards." Well, there were no Foshay Towers made out of soap, but there were little green traffic cones drawn on by Robyn for sale.
When Robyn first came out he looked a little sluggish, but I overheard him say afterwards that he had just eaten a big dinner and was really full of food, so it took him about 10 songs to get into the show! He opened with a solo acoustic cover of Bob Dylan's "She Belongs to Me," an homage to the Dinkytown area in which the Varsity is located, and where Dylan hung out when he attended the University of Minnesota. (The 4th Street in "Positively 4th Street" could be the one in Dinkytown, so some people say.) After he played it he said, "That song was by Bob Dylan, the rest of the songs are by Robyn Hitchcock." I cheered. Then the band came out and Robyn switched to his blue electric guitar for a beautiful version of "I Often Dream of Trains." Next came "What You Is," the opening track from "Goodnight Oslo," and that's when the rocking began.
I got to meet Robyn after the show at the merch table, he was really nice, as you would expect, he signed people's shirts, posed for pictures, etc. I told him thanks for playing "Beautiful Queen," which is one of my all-time favorite songs of his, he said, "Glad you enjoyed it." I got to shake his hand and tell him I think he's one of the greatest songwriters, he kind of laughed and said, "Well, I'm certainly one of the oldest!" So, yeah, I said what I wanted to say, and I hopefully didn't sound like a moron. It's tough to talk to someone whose music means a lot to you, what do you say? Like if I ever met David Bowie, or Paul McCartney, how could I possibly tell them all that their music has meant to me over the years? I couldn't, all you can hope for is not sounding like a doofus. I'd love to interview Robyn for hours, he's so smart and quick-witted.
Here's what Robyn played, I'm sure I'm missing a couple of songs, and the order isn't perfect:
She Belongs to Me-Dylan cover, solo acoustic
I Often Dream of Trains
What You Is
Brenda's Iron Sledge
Madonna of the Wasps
Hurry for the Sky
I'm Falling-all 3 of the above were written for the as-yet-unmade movie "The Fifth Beatle," about Brian Epstein
Up to Our Nex-with a snatch of Bowie's Young Americans thrown in!
Beautiful Queen-a simply gorgeous version of this gorgeous song!
The Authority Box
I'm Hot For You-? solo acoustic encore
All in all, an amazing show! Thanks Robyn, come back again soon!