|Robyn Hitchcock, at the Dakota, October 12, 2012. (Photo by Mark Taylor.)|
Last night I saw Robyn Hitchcock at the Dakota Jazz Club. It was a terrific show, just Robyn and his guitar-and a couple of songs on the piano. Richard Lloyd, the guitar player from the band Television, opened for Robyn. Lloyd is a good guitar player, but he lacked any stage presence and his songs all sounded very similar to me.
Robyn was wearing a colorful shirt, as always. It was white with blue or purple flowers-very cool. He began the concert with two Soft Boys oldies, “Only the Stones Remain,” and “I Got the Hots.” He played some harmonica throughout the show, which I’ve indicated in the set list below. Robyn’s guitar playing is really fantastic. He played a wonderful extended solo on “I’m Only You,” like he did in the concert movie “Storefront Hitchcock.” Like Nick Lowe, Robyn is able to captivate an audience with just his voice and his guitar, which is not something all performers can do. Robyn described “I’m Only You” as a song about “becoming the thing you love.” True to Robyn Hitchcock form, in between songs he entertained us with his stream of consciousness spoken word pieces. I’ve heard that his spoken word pieces are completely different every night, and I believe that, I really think he just makes them up as he goes along. It might be the closest we’ll get to getting inside Robyn’s mind. Robyn played a lovely version of his song “Museum of Sex,” which is one of my favorites from the “Ole! Tarantula” album. “Museum of Sex” has one of my all-time favorite Robyn lyrics, “Music is the antidote to the world of pain and sorrow.” Beautiful, and very true. Robyn switched to piano for a few songs, the delicate “English Girl,” from his 2004 album “Spooked,” the lovely “Flavor of Night,” (or “Flavour of Night,” to use the British spelling) from his classic “I Often Dream of Trains” album, and a brand new song, “I Don’t Know Anything About You Anymore.” (I’m not entirely sure of the title, but that’s the chorus.) Robyn said that this new song will be the first song on Side 2 of his new album, which will be out next spring. Robyn then switched back to guitar for a terrific version of “My Favorite Buildings,” which he dedicated to Minneapolis’s Foshay Tower. Robyn said that two of his favorite things about Minneapolis are Nicollet Mall and the Foshay Tower, both of which are very close to the Dakota. (The Dakota is on Nicollet Mall, and the Foshay is just blocks away.) Next up were two songs from Robyn’s album “Eye,” which he is playing in its entirety tonight in Chicago. His version of “Glass Hotel” was especially nice, with great guitar work. Robyn closed out the night by playing three more recent songs, “Sometimes a Blonde,” from “Spooked,” the supremely catchy “Up To Our Nex,” from “Goodnight Olso,” and the title song from “Ole! Tarantula,” which is one of my favorite Robyn songs.
The encore was entirely covers, which surprised me a little bit. Robyn said that Jim Morrison was his favorite rock star, which also surprised me. Robyn said that the David Bowie song “Soul Love” is his daughter’s favorite Bowie song, as well as his wife’s favorite Bowie song. And Robyn’s. And the cat’s. Robyn had a great line about Bowie, saying something like, “He’s British, but he’s not dead, so that must mean that he lives in America.” It was a great, fun song to close the evening with. It was a great show, and a lot of fun to see Robyn solo. He said he’d be back in the spring, so I’m already looking forward to that. Robyn is such a unique performer, there’s no one quite like him. I love his mixture of catchy melodies and witty, surreal lyrics. He’s one of my favorite songwriters, and I think his recent albums are as good as anything he’s done. I did get to meet Robyn after the show and get my copy of his most recent CD “Tromso, Kaptein” signed. Robyn was amazed that I had the physical CD. (It was only released physically in Norway.) He said, “Where did you get this?” I said, “From your website.” He was very nice, but he wasn’t going to make small talk, so I didn’t get a chance to ask him if he’s been to the bar at the top of the Foshay Tower. Oh well, maybe in the spring.
Only the Stones Remain-harmonica
I Got the Hots
The Wreck of the Arthur Lee
Museum of Sex
I’m Only You
Flavor of Night-piano
I Don’t Know Anything About You Anymore-new song-piano
My Favorite Buildings-dedicated to the Foshay Tower
Sometimes a Blonde
Up To Our Nex
River Man-Nick Drake cover
Dominoes-Syd Barrett cover
Crystal Ship-The Doors cover
Soul Love-David Bowie cover