Robyn Hitchcock | 11.07.07

live_robynh.jpgThe thing that really blew me away, though, was his virtuoso guitar playing. This doesn’t necessarily hit you when listening to the album, but Hitchcock is one amazing folk guitar player.

 

 

 

 

 

w/Sean Nelson
Blueberry Hill,
St. Louis

It was weird being the youngest person at a concert. As a 21-year-old at the "21 and older" Duck Room, I was probably the baby of the audience, most of whom looked like they could be my parents. I’m not surprised that Robyn Hitchcock attracts an older-than-your-usual-rock-concert crowd. He hit the height of his popularity in the 1980s with the Soft Boys and some outstanding solo releases such as I Often Dream of Trains, Eye, and Fegmania. His cult following from those days has been loyal and turned out for the show. This evening’s performance was Hitchcock’s first stop in St. Louis in years and he did not plan to disappoint. Supporting the upcoming boxed set, I Wanna Go Backwards, reissue of his earliest solo folkier albums, fans were treated to a whimsical night of old favorites.

Harvey Danger’s Sean Nelson opened the night with a set of charming piano pop. Beginning with a cover of The Kinks’ "This Is Where I Belong," Nelson’s laidback manner and wonderful singing voice really grabbed the audience. He talked in between songs almost as much as he actually played, provoking audience participated conversations about love, death, and Bob Costas. His set provided an appropriately comfortable atmosphere for the evening, with a proper amount of wit thrown in for good measure.

Hitchcock took the stage, grabbed his acoustic guitar, and immediately began to woo the audience with his nonsensical banter and genius musicianship. With his feathered white hair, polka dotted shirt, and purple pants, Hitchcock looked the part of the jester/troubadour that we would come to know him as by the end of the performance. He kicked off the fun with "Balloon Man" from 1988’s Globe of Frogs. I was happy to hear my favorite songs from his folk albums, including the hilarious "Uncorrected Personality Traits" and the quiet "Cathedral." He even turned a couple of the Egyptians tunes into acoustic numbers, most notably Fegmanias "My Wife and My Dead Wife" and "I’m Only You."

Like his opener, Hitchcock did a lot of talking in between songs. His banter reflected the poetic silliness of his lyrics. His topics ranged from a unique answer to the question "where do babies come from?" to a description of a picturesque scene of a valley where harmonicas roam fields and call to each other. The thing that really blew me away, though, was his virtuoso guitar playing. This doesn’t necessarily hit you when listening to the album, but Hitchcock is one amazing folk guitar player.

Sean Nelson sang harmonies for the second half of the show. This portion was jokingly referred to by Hitchcock as their "songs for the unreleased Simon and Garfunkel tribute." They played "Queen Elvis" from Eye, which was followed by a story about Brian Ferry stealing a radiator that belonged to him and John Paul Jones (starting to get a picture for this Brit’s hysterical stage personality?). He ended the show with a few electric numbers that ranged from rocking to creeping, followed by a three song encore of "I Feel Beautiful," a cover of the Velvet Underground’s "Candy Says," and the super fun "Adventure Rocketship" from Hitchcock’s latest release with the Venus 3.

After the show, Hitchcock visited with his devout fans, signing copies of albums and generally chatting. He was definitely one of the most charismatic performers I have ever seen. If you’ve never listened to him, definitely pick up the boxed set when it comes out later this month. | Pete Wissinger

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