I’m happy to report that I just became the first person in the history of music to see concerts by Nellie McKay, Pugwash, and Robyn Hitchcock in less than a week. In three different states, too. Who else would do such a thing? Nobody, that’s who.
I almost didn’t achieve this glorious milestone as I didn’t find out about the Robyn Hitchcock show until less than 10 hours before it was scheduled to begin. I’m not sure how this information managed to slip by unnoticed until then…especially when you consider that I’m on the venue’s mailing list. Perhaps this is the result of not being on Facebook or Twitter. And not having a phone. And not paying attention to anything.
I went down to the Southgate House Revival across the river in Newport, KY. I found a decent seat in a very uncomfortable chair. Emma Swift soon came out for her opening set. She was also the opener when Beth and I saw Robyn Hitchcock perform earlier this year at the Columbia City Theatre in Seattle. Her 6-song set was similar to what she did for that show except she changed around the order a bit, switched her Gram Parsons cover from “Brass Buttons” to “Hickory Wind”, and played “Woodland Street” instead of that song about the 5 Spot. I liked Emma’s music a lot more this time, and I chalk that up to getting a copy of her mini album at the Columbia City show. I always like music more if I know the words and can sing along in my head.
Here’s Emma Swift’s setlist:
Setlist: Bittersweet/Woodland Street/Hickory Wind (Gram Parsons cover)/Seasons/James/Shivers (Rowland S. Howard cover)
Robyn Hitchcock came out about twenty minutes after Emma Swift left the stage. It was just him and his acoustic guitar. He started out with a slightly creepy version of “Luminous Rose” and then played a song I don’t remember ever hearing before called “I Pray When I’m Drunk”. I’m not sure if that’s the proper title, but that seems to be what the internet is calling it. It might be new. “The Devil’s Coachman” came next and had the audience laughing with its closing line about finding the devil in his bed and making him coffee and toast. “Madonna of the Wasps” doesn’t mean anything more to me than any of the other songs, but it got the first big cheer of recognition from the audience. Maybe it was a radio hit back when there were radio hits for people like Robyn Hitchcock. I don’t know.
Okay, this is the fifth time I’ve written about a Robyn Hitchcock concert on this site, so I’m not going to go through it song by song. It’s too much. Let’s just say Robyn continued singing his songs and telling his stories until he eventually got tired of doing it alone and called Emma Swift back out to add some backing vocals. The two of them closed out the main set with three songs performed as a duo. The final one of these was “Queen Elvis”, another song that the audience knew. The guy sitting next to me sang along but didn’t know where to put the “aah-aah-aahahs”. It was annoying and funny at the same time. Robyn and Emma left the stage after that.
There was a brief interlude of clapping after which Robyn Hitchcock came back out by himself. He mentioned that we’d come to the part of the evening where he played songs from his record collection. He also mentioned that Bryan Ferry’s 70th birthday was coming up. That, of course, served as an introduction to a mini set of Roxy Music covers. The first song was “More Than This”. Emma Swift brought out some tea and joined Robyn for the second song, “Oh Yeah”. (That’s the one that goes “there’s a band playing on the radio.” You probably know it even if you don’t recognize the official title.) I’d say that Robyn and Emma’s version of “Oh Yeah” was one of the highlights of the evening. Of course, I forgot all about it when they closed the show with a cover of Neil Young’s “Motion Pictures”. That’s what I wanted to hear.
As always, here are my scribbled setlist notes:
And here’s the setlist cleaned up and typed out:
Main set: Luminous Rose/”I Pray When I’m Drunk”/The Devil’s Coachman/Madonna of the Wasps/Bass/Victorian Squid/Sometimes a Blonde/Full Moon in My Soul/N.Y. Doll/Dismal City/Nietzche’s Way (w/Emma Swift)/Linctus House (w/Emma Swift)/Queen Elvis (w/Emma Swift)
Encore: More Than This (Roxy Music cover)/Oh Yeah (Roxy Music cover w/Emma Swift)/Motion Pictures (Neil Young cover w/Emma Swift)
As I briefly touched upon above, this was my fifth time seeing Robyn Hitchcock in concert. You might think it would get boring after awhile, but I dug out my old setlists and ran the numbers. Of the 86 songs I’ve heard him perform live, 61 of them were only played once. There were only three songs overlapping between the two 2015 shows. And that right there is one of the main reasons why I’ll see Robyn Hitchcock a sixth time if given the chance.